EDUCATION: Auto skills competition lands RCC student a job – Press-Enterprise
Martin Alvarez has been fascinated by cars since he was a child.
So it’s no surprise that his performance at a recent competition not only earned him a $30,000, full-ride scholarship to a BMW service technician training program but also promised him a job.
Born and raised in San Bernardino, the Riverside City College student competed in the Automotive Service Technology category at a recent national Skills
Alvarez’s love of cars began in his youth, when his cousin would take him cruising in his Honda. Interested in modifications, Alvarez bought his first car, a Honda CR-X, in 2007 and learned how to install a lowering spring from a friend’s dad. He has been working on cars ever since.
Alvarez entered the SkillsUSA competition last year but didn’t make it past regionals. This year, he took first place at regional and state levels, qualifying him to compete at nationals and making him RCC’s first automotive student to do so.
“He’s just a cut above the rest,” said RCC professor of automotive technology Richard Rodman.
Carmakers often recruit from competitions like SkillsUSA, Rodman said, adding that a previous RCC student was recruited by Honda two years ago.
Alvarez recalled the pressure of the national competition and the intense five weeks he spent preparing for it. “It was a lot more high-stress than at state,” he said.
He studied his class notes and worked one on one with Rodman to ensure he would be ready for the competition – 39 of the best automotive students in the nation – that was to come.
The competition consisted of 13 stations, each with different car parts. Contestants had 20 minutes at each station to perform procedures on each part. The first two stations were tough, Alvarez said, “but then I started picking up momentum.”
Contestants needed to be prepared to work on every aspect of a car, from wheel alignment to brake service, on different makes and models with both automatic and manual transmissions.
Alvarez finished his automotive electrical and automotive mechanical degrees in June. He will begin BMW’s program in January, after which he will work as a technician for the company. After gaining industry experience, Alvarez hopes to open his own auto repair shop and become a professor, possibly at RCC.
“My dad always showed me that whatever I do, I’ve got to do to the best of my abilities,” he said.
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