Auto mechanics

High school robotics programs could be a pipeline for auto mechanics

Patrick Sassine, service advisor at Vic Canever Chevrolet in Fenton, Michigan, northwest of Detroit, examines the store’s aging workforce and concerns.

“Our workforce is over 50 years old,” he said Fixed transactions log. “They are at the end of their careers, and you don’t see anything happening, no young talent. You can find people to do brakes and oil changes but not to work on computer modules.”

To lead service in the age of battery-electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology, “you have to have the skills,” he says.

Currently, Canever only has one technology certified to work on the Chevrolet Volt and Bolt, and the store may be using more.

But Sassine knows a potential pipeline of technicians with advanced electronics skills that may not have emerged from other service managers.

We have heard stories of dealers who have recruited tech-savvy employees in the electronics departments of retail stores, or who have “grown their own” by starting them in the lube route out of high school and bringing them down. advancing. These are good strategies – for today. But here’s one for the near future: Almost every school district across the country has at least one high school with a FIRST Robotics team. FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – is the perfect program for new car dealers to support and use as a recruiting tool.

Each year, FIRST school teams across the country build autonomous, battery-powered robots that compete in loud competitions held in gymnasiums and arenas in front of enthusiastic parents, students and sponsors. Robots have to perform complex tasks, like climbing a wall or throwing balls repeatedly through a hoop. Each FIRST team includes engineers, computer programmers, welders, electricians, fabricators and troubleshooters.

Sassine has seen with his own eyes what these children – including his son – can do: he is a mentor for the Fenton Titanium Tigers. And Canever is a sponsor.

Due to the pandemic, the 2020 team did not visit the concession as in past years. As soon as it is safe again, the Titanium Tigers will travel to Canever and after-sales service, Sassine said. He wants to plant the seed that a car dealership is a place where technicians can work on advanced electronics.