An auto technician from Essex Junction won a national award recognizing his excellence in the automotive industry.He is only 22 years old.
Steven Ray received the Technician of the Future award sponsored by Mitchell 1 and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) in November in Charlotte, N.C.
“We are proud to partner with Mitchell 1 to recognize Steven’s commitment to excellence in providing the very best in auto repair services to the Essex Junction extended community,” said Timothy Zilke, institute president and CEO in a press release. “This dedication is reflected in the talented individuals we recognize each year and Steven represents the best of the best.”
Ray was one of 40 technicians who received an award at the Annual Technician Awards. Those who won were recognized from the 360,000 ASE-certified professionals, according to the press release.
For Ray, it was a whirlwind of excitement.
“It was a fun time,” Ray said. “It was definitely pretty cool and rewarding.”
During the award banquet, he noticed the age difference between himself and the recipients of other awards.
“It was mainly a lot of older guys,” Ray said. “I was definitely by far the youngest.”
However, he is no stranger to being amongst the youngest in his field.
At Ray’s current job at The Automaster BMW in Shelburne, most of the mechanics are older and in their thirties and forties.
He prefers to work on the cars that have an electrical issue while his older co-workers like to deal with mechanical issues, Ray said.
“I think being young and technologically savvy has a lot to do with it,” he said.
However, the relationships between the workers at The Automaster BMW are not negatively affected by the age difference. Ray said that everyone helps each other out.
“It doesn’t feel like work,” he said.
Ray said that the new technologies that are being used in the automotive industry are what keeps his passion for cars alive.
“They’re always coming out with new stuff, and it just blows my mind,” he said.
Two examples of the new technology that Ray is particularly interested in are headlights that turn with the wheel and a built-in radar detector that will adjust the car’s speed based on the car in front of it.
Even though he’s has been an automotive technician for five years, he wasn’t always interested in cars. Ray found his passion when he turned 16 and got a car of his own.
“I had never worked on cars before then,” he said. “I didn’t even know how to change oil.”
While Ray was still in high school, he started going to classes at the Center for Technology in Essex. After graduating, Ray received an associate’s degree from Ohio Technical College in Automotive Technology.
The Technician of the Future award is not the first time he has been recognized for his work and dedication.
Ray won the Ford/AAA winner for the State of Vermont in 2006 and got third place at Skills USA Nationals in Automotive Service Technology in 2007.
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