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Automotive Industry Experience

by Hawke Robinson published Dec 02, 2021 07:30 AM, last modified Dec 04, 2021 11:34 AM
This page provides a summary of my experience in the Automotive industries.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY BACKGROUND OVERVIEW
I have always been fascinated with mechanics, engineering, physics, and more. This includes a decades-long love of automobiles, motorcycles, airplanes, and other transportation technologies.

My father was pilot in the Korean War, and some of my earliest memories are as a baby as he flew his Cesna, and when I was 11 having glider pilot lessons soaring serenely over the beautiful Napa Valley, California hills. I was allowed to drive in the lap of my parents and other relatives before I could reach the pedals, and would be under the hood with my father and other relatives working on their cars, trucks, or industrial equipment over the years. I worked a lot of labor jobs as a young child and teenager, and often had opportunities to learn about, and help others work on, various combustion engine and electric motor driven technologies. My uncle and grandfather were both mining engineers, and grew up working summers at the small family-run low impact underground “drift” (tunnels, not shaft or strip) gold mine in the Idaho Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, that had first been founded in the late 1800s. I have personally owned more than 50 cars, including a number of restorations and customizations.

I started mechanic work that I was actually paid for around 1983, first working at the Lost Packer Mine in Idaho, then later at a series of used car lots, and then onward to Precision Tune, Auto Care Clinic, and then teaching at the American Automotive Institute, in Utah.

Event at the college, the other instructors would have me take over teaching the electrical and computer technology segments of the curricula. Over the decades I had became well-known as the person every other mechanic in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho would send complex automotive electrical or computer-system issues (especially the “possessed Christine cars” (Stephen King reference), because most mechanics really didn’t like electrical and computer systems, and these were favorite areas of mine.

In the mid-90s, at the American Automotive Institute I was the driving force to modernize and improve their curricula, bringing in teaching about the latest technologies (electronic muffler systems, all wheel steering, electric vehicles, etc.). In addition to helping them overhaul and upgrade their ancient WANG systems into the modern age, I also created new courses and even helped create entire new certificate programs in other fields (computers, graphics design, etc.).

I continued to work in the capacity of an automotive technician, especially helping other mechanics or people struggling with automotive electrical or computer system issues, as well as just helping people pick the right car (new or used) for their needs. Furthermore these life skills still benefit me to this day when looking at purchasing new (or used) cars for my sons, my wife, or myself. My old school mechanic skills were invaluable in 2018 when I went on a 26-day 8-state tour to raise awareness about disabilities and accessibility challenges with a wheelchair accessible bus I bought and restored (the Wheelchair Accessible RPG Bus – www.rpgtour.com ).
RELEVANT AUTOMOTIVE EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATIONS
• Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certified Technician (1990+)
◦ Engine Performance
◦ Electrical and Computer Systems Controls
◦ Engines
◦ Emissions
• Utah State College Environmental Services Technician (1993)
• Precision Tune 5-star Certified Mechanic (1989)
• Salt Lake Community College Automotive Courses (1988-1990)
• Highland High School Vocational Automotive Program (1985-1988)

WORK EXPERIENCE HISTORY
Automotive Technology Independent Consultant / Technician / Mechanic / Instructor
California, Utah, Idaho, Minnesota, and elsewhere - 1983 - 2021
As per overview page. I am very interested in EV technologies, I just wish I could find ones I can fit in (I’m over 6’7” and all legs). I looked into converting one of my SUVs (1983 Bronco) with an EV kit for about 20k in parts, but unfortunately did not get the chance to follow through. I am very much an advocate for the benefits and simplicity of electric motor driven transportation, as well as the technological and practical issues that need to be addressed to grow adoption.

Surface Crewman, Underground Crewman, and Mechanic
Lost Packer Mine - 1983 – 1987, Idaho
Electric ore car train engine operation and maintenance.
In-the field mechanic work on 1960 Dodge Power Wagon 1-ton Flatbed, carburetor, tune-up, maintenance, and repair. Diesel miningair compressor and generator maintenance.
Heavy duty machinery operator and maintenance, front-end loader, back hoe, bulldozer.

Automotive Student, Vocational Automotive Program
Highland High School - 1985 – 1988, Salt Lake City, Utah
Began becoming the “Electrical and Computer Specialist”. When no one else wanted to work on vacuum routings, engine performance tuning, increasing electronic and computer systems, and especially electrical systems, I loved those and over time everyone sent me those projects because they struggled with them so much. In addition to hands-on work, vocational courses in automotive theory and applied courses in addition to my regular high school courses. General diagnostic, tuneups, and maintenance of dozens of various cars from the 1960, 70s, and even newer 80s models.
Decided to become dive deeper into automotive technologies because I was tired of shops trying to rip off my mother, and wanted to learn enough to protect her, but then I found I had a real aptitude and knew it would be a way for me to move out on my own and have a good starting career, even though I never intended to be a mechanic the rest of my life, it was a great launch into adulthood.
Most notable projects:
* Complete engine seals rebuild on 1978 Subaru Wagon.
* “Bring back from the dead” restoration of 1930s International weapons carrier 2.5 ton truck.

Student, Automotive Technician
Salt Lake Community College Automotive Technician Courses
Salt Lake City, Utah - 1988 - 1989
Theory and shop courses in:
• Engine performance, Electrical, and Automotive Computer Systems
• Engine Rebuild
• Carburetors Rebuild
• Welding
Worked on scores of cars brought to the community college, ranging from complete overhauls to simple oil changes and tune ups.
Most notable projects:
• Complete wiring loom manually replaced in Datsun 280Z, and diagnostics, replacement, and repair of early electronic fuel injection system.
• I fully blueprinted and custom rebuilt my 1986 Chevrolet Scottsdale “heavy half-ton” long-bed pickup truck, 305 cubic inch V8 with 4 barrel carburetor, to increase gas mileage from 11-15 MPG city / 15-17 MPG hwy, to 20+ MPG city, and 35+ MPG highway, while simultaneously increasing performance to 304 horsepower and 500 lb ft of torque at the wheels, and with cleaner emissions than a brand new 1989 Honda 4 cylinder!
Automotive Technician
Car City Used Car Lots I and II
Salt Lake City, Utah - 1988-1989
I worked on multiple used car lots for the owner. As new trade-ins or used sales cars came in, I would fix them up as needed to make them available for sale as quickly as possible. There were about 100-200 cars between the lots. Over a few months I was getting reprimanded by the owner because I was “doing too good a job”. According to him I was hurting his business model by properly fixing the cars. His model was to sell a car to people that would then have to cover more repairs themselves, default on their payments, and he would repossess the cars. He said on average he could sell each car 2-3 times over, but it depended on fixing the cars “just enough to get by”. Once I learned that he wanted me to reduce the quality of my work, I gave notice and moved on to Precision Tune.

Automotive Technician
Precision Tune
3 Locations (SLC, West Valley, Midvale), Utah - 1989-1990
Brought in as the shift rotation technician, I filled in for the days off for all the other technicians across 3 different shops, 6 days a week, 60+ hours per day. I gained great experience in a very condensed time period due to this agreement. Within a few months I was Technician of The Month, and later Technician of the Year, because I had the fewest warranty returns in the entire history of the franchise. Precision Tune offered 1 year warranties on all the work (longer than any of their competitors), and the company tracked who did the work. If a car was returned, it hurt your record. I also took over doing my own sales from the sales manager at each shop because I could speak with the customers directly and they trusted me far more. This lead to my having an average ticket size twice that of the other mechanics, and I set the record for the largest single ticket sale for the franchise. I gained a very positive reputation in the region, and other companies started courting me with offers to join their shop. Eventually accepted an offer from Auto Care Clinic (ACC) for double the pay, and getting to specialize in my favorite areas of expertise. Precision Tune’s franchise owners countered with a higher offer, but I really liked the specialization option that ACC offered more.

Automotive Technician - Automotive Electrical, Electronic, and Computer Systems Specialist
Auto Care Clinic, West Valley, Utah – 1989 - 1991
A large automotive mall with multiple bays for each specialty, locally owned. Excellent place to work, and gave me the opportunity to rack up multiple Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications. Worked on a very wide range of vehicles including very high end performance and alternate fuels.
* Most Notable Project: completely overhauled all of the wiring and electrical controls on a 1966 Thunderbird Convertible (and have been in love with that model ever since).

Instructor, Course Designer, Systems & Network Administrator
American Automotive Institute, Bryman Schools, Utah Career College, SLC, Utah – 1993 - 1995
Hired primarily as instructor for the American Automotive Institute, part of the Bryman Schools / Utah Career College campus, and helped to overhaul and modernize their aging curricula.
We were also the Dodge Certification Center for Utah, and we had early access to brand new technologies like the new V10 Dodge Pickups with all-wheel traction control, the brand new Dodge Viper, etc.
I also ended up becoming their head systems and network administrator for the whole school. Created entire new training programs, I taught the teachers, cor computer technology and graphics design programs that would later become full certificate courses.
I loved working there, and loved the program and teaching the students. I loved seeing “the light come on in their eyes” from understanding and excitement to learn more. Unfortunately the instructor work was quite a pay cut compared to my work as a mechanic, and with my first son on the way, I wanted to have a much higher income to provide for my growing family. I had been working in Information Technology related areas in parallel for many years, and I decided in 1995 to focus on working up to become Chief Technology Officer, “make a six-digit income”, and move back to California. So I transitioned out of full-time automotive work in 1995, and only continued on-the-side work ever since.