National Technician Rivalry

Come mid-September, commercial vehicle technicians from around the country will gather in Raleigh, NC, to take part in TMCSuperTech2011. This is a national technician skills competition put on by the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) and held in conjunction with its annual fall meeting.

That meeting is set for this September 19 to 22 at the Raleigh Convention Center. The meeting theme is: “Maintenance Solutions You Can Count On.”

The TMC is a technical council of American Trucking Associations, the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. TMC’s mission is to improve transport equipment, its maintenance and maintenance management.

TMC does this by developing industry recommended engineering and maintenance practices, and by promoting the voluntary cooperation among designers and manufacturers of transport equipment and those who specify, purchase and manage such equipment.

SKILLS SHOWCASE

This year’s TMCSuperTech will be the seventh annual industry-wide competition dedicated both to honoring technician professionalism and to acknowledging the best of the best.

A two-day event, this competition has been specifically designed to showcase a technician’s knowledge, skills and aptitude with medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles, including both theory and practical application. This is done through a series of written and hands-on diagnostic and problem-solving tests and challenges.

The technicians that perform the best win tops honors and numerous prizes.

The competition is open to any actively employed commercial vehicle technician. Most competitors come from private companies, although a number come from having won their state, regional or company technician skills competition.

The TMCSuperTech has been likened to an Olympic competition wherein competitors come to win, but revel in the camaraderie and excitement.

It was organized in 2005 by the Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC) - group within TMC established to promote and enhance the professionalism of commercial vehicle technicians.

TESTING PROCESS

The first phase of the TMCSuperTech is a complicated, 100-question, multiple-choice examination and a skills pre-qualification test. The written exam is based on tests prepared by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

The top 100 or so scorers from the pre-qualification tests move on to the Hands-On Skills Challenge. This is a series of 25-minute-long stations that cover 14 key diagnostic skills areas. Each station has its own set of challenges.

Interestingly, one of the skills stations that give competitors the most difficulty year after year is the Repair Order station.

THE SCORING

Scoring on the Hands-On Skills Challenge portion of the TMCSuperTech competition is tabulated by monitors using a detailed station score sheet developed by each skills station’s technical committee. Judging scores reflect an assessment of technical skills and knowledge, speed and accuracy, and quality of workmanship.

Judges consist of volunteers who are recognized experts within each competition area.

Every year, the exam questions and skills stations are adjusted to keep up with industry changes and technology.

From each TMCSuperTech a grand champion is named. Trophies and prizes are also given for second and third place.

Technicians who receive the best score at each skills station are acknowledged and presented with prizes as well.

TRAINING SESSSIONS

As part of the TMCSuperTech, the Professional Technician Development Committee holds its Technician Training Fair. This is a series of training sessions created to help commercial vehicle technicians, shop supervisors and fleet managers stay current on the latest technologies and techniques related to vehicle service and maintenance.

This year’s Technician Training Fair will offer various educational opportunities based on the competition’s skills stations.

TMCSuperTech competitors who attend any of these training sessions are awarded bonus points. As close as the competition often is, these bonus points can make a big difference in how a competitor finishes.

The PDTC training qualifies for continuing education credit units accepted by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). An independent, non-profit organization, NATEF evaluates technician training programs against standards developed by the automotive industry and recommends qualifying programs for certification (accreditation) by ASE.

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