Grease monkey. Motorhead. The slang we use for vehicle technicians depicts the job as a down and dirty trade rather than a highly-skilled craft. Roadtrip Nation’s new one-hour special, Changing Gears, dispels long-held perceptions of technician work, opening up the hood on a rapidly accelerating industry that’s driven by advanced training, specialized skills, and mastery of today’s most cutting-edge technology.
A look at technician work through the eyes of three young aspiring technicians—and established professionals whom they seek out for advice—Changing Gears takes viewers on a tour through a field that’s growing fast, but needs more workers. As the Bureau of Labor reports, demand for technicians is the highest it’s ever been, but with scarce numbers of young adults enrolling in technical training programs, a shortage of technicians in the near future is almost guaranteed.
With the future of the industry in question, Changing Gear’s young cast sets off to interview successful technicians in every corner of the industry—from Dennis McCarthy, the lead technician for the Fast and the Furious series, to Bogi Latiener, whose female-centric garage is challenging the gender expectations surrounding automotive work. It’s a supercharged adventure through land and sea as the road-trippers get behind the wheel of everything from exotic supercars to giant tractors, discovering a wide array of technician careers that go far beyond wrench-turning.
As they travel from custom truck shops to high-tech labs that render car parts with 3D printers, the team quickly learns that the industry is no longer just about hard labor; it’s now built on complex computer systems. The idea of a 16-year-old fixing a car on a driveway isn’t as feasible in this day and age. But that doesn’t mean technicians have lost sight of the field’s founding traditions and principles. Whether they’re modding cars to make them drift machines, or rebuilding old-school muscle cars, every technician toes the line between embracing the new and upholding the past.
Seeing where the field is going excites the road-trippers about their future career prospects, but like any journey, they face roadblocks to get where they want to go. Alexandra has loved vehicles her whole life and is serious about a career as a technician. But being in a male-dominated field presents some rough terrain, and she seeks to find the confidence to continue blazing a path for herself. Dylan is currently studying at the NASCAR Technical Institute—inspired by childhood memories of watching races with his father—but he’s unsure where to go next, and hopes that seeing all the different niches available will shine a light on the right one for him. Michael has been a car buff ever since he watched his dad build an engine at age six, but he’s curious to see how you actually go about the task of turning a passion into a livelihood.
After speaking to professionals working in wildly diverse roles, the road-trippers learn that the public perception of technician work is off the mark. Forget the image of the grease-covered mechanic; this is an industry made up of brainy, skilled professionals who spend their days on the frontlines of technology. Being a technician means holding the keys to the future of human transportation—and driving the world forward.
Feature Leaders List:
- Magnus Walker, Porsche Enthusiast
- Rod Fuller, Vice President of Operations, Exotics Racing
- Walt Logan, Operations Manager, Dig This Las Vegas
- Mike Spagnola, Vice President of OEM & Product Development Programs, Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)
- Stephanie Martinez, Senior Coordinator, SEMA Garage
- Henrik Hairapetian, Founder & CEO, World Famous 4X4
- Brian Darnall, Shop Manager, Hoonigan Industries
- Joe Ray, Editor, Lowrider Magazine
- Dennis McCarthy, Owner, Vehicle Effects
- John Hennessey, Founder, Hennessey Performance Engineering
- Darron Craddieth, Diesel Mechanic, Ryder
- Scout Gillick, Diesel Mechanic, Ryder
- Heather Opp, Technician II, Ryder
- Rashad Thomas, Diesel Mechanic, Ryder
- Roger Penske, Founder & Chairman, Penske Corporation
- Keola Santiago, Audi Master Guild Technician, Audi North Scottsdale
- Bogi Lateiner, Owner, 180 Degrees Automotive
Media Contact for Roadtrip Nation:
Kelsey Cox firstname.lastname@example.org
949-764-9121 ext 220
Media Contact for KQED:
Christina Reagan, email@example.com
Funding for Roadtrip Nation: Life Hackers
is made possible by: The University of Maryland University College
About Roadtrip Nation
Roadtrip Nation started in 2001 when three friends fresh out of college weren’t sure what to do with their lives. Their solution? To road-trip around the country and ask people who do what they love how they got to where they are today. What started as a road trip sparked an annual documentary series, a number of books, online tools, and an educational organization—all dedicated to helping individuals define their own roads in life. In 2009, Roadtrip Nation expanded into education with the creation of The Roadtrip Nation Experience, a project-based self-discovery curriculum designed to help students explore their identities and find careers aligned with their interests. Today, Roadtrip Nation continues to empower individuals to create meaningful lives doing what they love. To learn more about Roadtrip Nation, visit www.roadtripnation.com. For more information about Roadtrip Nation in education, visit www.roadtripnation.org.
About KQED Public Television
KQED serves the people of Northern California with a public-supported alternative to commercial media. An NPR and PBS affiliate based in San Francisco, KQED is home to one of the most listened-to public radio stations in the nation, one of the highest-rated public television services and an award-winning education program helping students and educators thrive in 21st-century classrooms. A trusted news source and leader and innovator in interactive technology, KQED takes people of all ages on journeys of exploration — exposing them to new people, places, and ideas.
About American Public Television
APT (APTonline.org) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to America’s public television stations since 1961. Since 2004, APT has distributed approximately half of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles. Among its 300 new program titles per year are prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies, including For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots, A Ripple of Hope, Rick Steves’ Europe, Newsline, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, Joseph Rosendo’s Travelscope, America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Lidia’s Italy, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, Midsomer Murders, Moyers & Company, Doc Martin, Rosemary & Thyme, BBC World News, The Rat Pack: Live and Swingin’, Johnny Mathis: Wonderful, Wonderful! and John Denver: The Wildlife Concert. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. In 2006, APT launched and nationally distributed Create® – the TV channel featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming. APT is also a partner in the WORLD™ channel expansion project including its web presence at WORLDcompass.org. For more information about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org. For more information on Create, visit CreateTV.com.