Randy Nussler received his Associate in Science degree in Automotive Technology from NEIT in 1989. Since that time, Randy spent 18 years as an automotive technician before serving as a full-time automotive technology instructor at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, South Carolina for the past nine years.
In November, 2014, the Automotive Aftermarket division of The Gates Corporation, a leading manufacturer of industrial and automotive products, announced in collaboration with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), that Randy was named the 2014 Gates Tools for Schools/ASE Instructor of the Year. ASE is a non-profit organization established to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service through the testing and certification of repair and service professionals. Randy, who has been ASE certified for 25 years, was recognized for his commitment to the success of his students and to the automotive service industry.
Randy also received the 2008 North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) New Instructor Award and the 2012 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence in Teaching Award, among others. He now shares his insights with Tech News readers.
What made you decide to attend NEIT for your Associate Degree?
New England Tech’s reputation is what drove me as a sophomore in an automotive program at William Davies Vocational Technical High School in Lincoln, Rhode Island, to set my sight on NEIT’s Automotive Technology program.
How did you choose your program?
I worked with my father on small engines as a young teenager, but I found I was lost under the hood of a car which drove my intrigue even more. I was given an opportunity to attend high school automotive classes at Davies where I established a good foundational understanding of vehicle systems. But with both the variety and complexity of vehicles, I knew I needed more education and training.
What did you do to get started with your career?
During my junior year in high school, I landed a job at North Providence Tire and Auto changing oil, tires, brakes, and doing tune-ups. I worked there from 1987-1990. I started the Automotive Technology program at NEIT in the summer of 1988 and completed the program in the fall of 1989.
My father had a job transfer to South Carolina around this time. During a visit with him, I scheduled an appointment to meet with the service manager at a local Nissan dealer to see what the requirements for employment were and what they had to offer. After being interviewed, I was asked how soon I could start. After a four month relocation, I began working there.
Tell us about your current position.
I am an automotive instructor at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, South Carolina, but first worked several years as an automotive technician. I was employed at the Nissan dealership for two years, but later had the opportunity to work at an import car specialty service center where my diagnostic skills grew over the next 14 years. In 2003, I began teaching at the technical college at night while still working during the day at the import car service center. It was the best of both worlds. I would present students with updated diagnostic tools and techniques while utilizing the same new knowledge at my job.
What do you feel ultimately prepared you for your position?
It was a combination of my education at New England Tech along with my automotive background. As an automotive technician I found out early in my career that it is important to be a lifelong learner. I didn’t stop learning after graduation or working in the field for 18 years. I always strived to learn more and more. Having a college degree is a requirement for my teaching position. Also, teaching martial arts classes helped me speak in front of a class.
Do you have any advice for graduates who are just beginning their job search?
When looking for employment, word of mouth referrals can be beneficial to both the employer and employee. But, research all employment options and be willing to pay your dues. You were taught the proper way to do the job so don’t give up your integrity by cutting corners. Find an employer that will be loyal to you and show them the same respect.
What can current students do to better prepare themselves for jobs in this field?
Take your opportunity in college seriously. If you study more than is expected, you will likely learn more. Use the resources that are available to you. If you can manage it, seek part-time employment in the automotive field while you are in school to help fortify your training.
For anyone wanting to become an automotive technician today, I highly recommend attaining your foundational technical education from an accredited college like New England Tech. With vehicle system designs frequently changing, updating your education is also necessary.