skip navigation

As part of CTE Month, I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure of visiting CTE classes District-wide. Join me on a three-part journey as I venture through three classes to interview teachers and students. Today I met with Auto Mechanic students Cesar and Lucas of Provo High.

An impact drill whistles below the suppressed groove playing on the shop radio (which, for the record, is playing Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing). Both sounds thrum clean yet muted below Cesar and Lucas’s instructions. Cesar is the President of Provo High School Auto, and Lucas is their Vice President. The shop students are in smooth motion on the garage shop floor, affixing and removing objects from the skeletal chassis of a car, occasionally stepping away from the chassis to search for parts.

Spencer Brady is their Automotive Teacher, and he’s working with four other students on a lifted Suburban. One student in coveralls attempts an honest heave on a caliper bracket, but it doesn’t budge. The student flinches, hand on the wheel. Other students start to suggest corrections, but the student is already on it, moving mechanically back to the driver’s seat. He pops the emergency brake, and the caliper comes loose.

I only briefly interned as an auto-shop mechanic, but the place sings and swings as my shop did.

Tuesday only offers them about an hour to work, which is usually spent ordering parts or conducting research. Today is Friday, and they have three hours to finish their teed-up work, and you can tell. The students toil with intent– brusque yet supportive in their instructions.

Twenty minutes later, after the shop started to get into a rhythm, I was able to pull Cesar and Lucas aside for a brief interview about their group activities, the life values learned through the Automotive class, and how they intend to leverage these newfound skills in the coming years.

“Right now, we’re out in the shop building Factory Five Mk3 Roadster, which is a 1965 Shelby Cobra replica. We’re building it using 1991 5.0 Fox-body Mustang parts,” Cesar explained. “The parts are coming in slow, so in the meantime, we’re bending brake lines and assembling our pedal box so we can properly set the master brake cylinder. If we put the pedal box in any other way, it could be bad. You don’t want to stomp on your brakes and have your brakes tighten up halfway through while on the road.”

The two looked like old hands in the shop, but they professed that this was their first year seriously working on cars. Lucas confessed that he was less than adept before joining, which caused some initial nerves.

“Truthfully, I didn’t know much about cars. It isn’t easy to join in a club or class if you feel like you don’t know anything about the topic, but I started the Intro Automotive class this year, and now I’m here.”

As an adult, the value of the coursework seems self-evident, but hearing it from the mouths of these two self-driven students better demonstrates the value of an Automotive class. I asked the two to share why the course should matter to future students and what the Auto classes mean to them.

“I want real-world skills. Most classes prepare you for college, which is useful, but this class offers me something I can immediately use in my home, for my family,” stated Lucas.

Cesar took a beat before offering his answer. “If you can learn a trade like this, you can take life into your own hands. You can be your own boss. The way I see it, this class is a way to jumpstart your career or keep you working. Even if you lose your job, work will come to you. It offers opportunities.”

CTE coursework has multiplicitous value; whether you’re looking to jumpstart a career, a college or University pathway, or keep yourself afloat through turbulent times, courses and clubs like Spencer Brady’s offer safety, prospects, and selfhood. It offers opportunities.

Look forward to the last article in the CTE Journey as I swing by the welding shop at Timpview for a talk with a student named Jennifer about the avenues for team-building and career pathways offered through the Welding course.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei