TMCSuperTech 2008

Annual technician competition is growing by leaps and bounds. "Web Extra!"

"It works out to be a pretty good team effort," he says. "If you look at TMC, everybody pulls together for a common cause, and the skills challenges are a good example, where you've got competitors working side-by-side to put the event together. They all come and bring their expertise; we pool our information to come up with written questions. You get the collective benefit of everybody's experience."

As station chairman, it's up to Maye to make sure everything is running smoothly with both judges and competitors.

"We set everything up a couple days before and try to have a contingency plan if something breaks, so we don't miss a beat in the competition," he says. "And we always have enough judges so they can have a

little flexibility in the day, and not have to stay there eight hours. If we have six stations, we might have 10 judges-that way they can go to a task force meeting."

Next up for Maye is putting together next year's test questions -not an easy task, as the technicians continue to improve.

"I'll be surveying all the people who have helped us judge so we can come up with some new challenges and new test questions, and we'll be getting the latest service literature so we can update our vehicle procedures accordingly," he says. "I've been making the test a little harder each year so we've got something that can challenge these guys."


Winning a station is certainly not easy, but putting together more than a dozen skills stations and accurately judging contestants is no piece of cake, either. TMC's 13-person Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC), which conducts the competition, keeps things running smoothly, and committee member Lee Long says their mission is to provide a fair, but tough competition to bring out the technicians' best.

"The competition is grueling, but that is all a part of it," Long says. "Those (who work well under pressure) are the ones you want making decisions about the proper repair process on the shop floor."

The first hurdle is a 100-question written test directly from the ASE Medium/Heavy Truck Certification Testing Program, developed from the truck OEMs, component manufacturers, trainers and technicians. The topics cover diesel engines, drivetrain, brakes, steering & suspension, electrical, HVAC and PMI.

"This is a reflection of the technicians who participate in this contest," says Kurt Hornicek, ASE director, M/H Truck Technical Programs. "SuperTech is more than just a title."

Thanks to some suggestions, this year also featured two preliminary workstations to help determine the cut score of the technicians who move on to the hands-on portion of the competition.

"We had some folks say to us in the past that some of the technicians that may do very well in the hands-on may not get there because they don't do well on written tests," says PDTC Contest Chairman George Arrants. "So we provided them two avenues to possibly increase their score, to give them an opportunity."

Once the finalists are chosen, technicians move to various rotations on to the hands-on skills stations, where Hornicek says he and his colleague Chuck Roberts, ASE executive director for industry relations, maintain the scoring database "with extreme attention to detail." If there are technicians from the same company, committee members put them in the same rotation to avoid passing information. This year, organizers added stations for safety and environmental fasteners, increasing the number of stations to 14.

The scores from each station are not only used to help determine winners; they are evaluated in future committee meetings to help plan next year's stations. That preparation includes a planning session at the Spring TMC Annual Meeting and conference calls throughout the rest of the year. Arrants says the group starts working on next year's event while the competition is going on.

"We take all that information into account immediately and create kind of a checklist," he says. "We already had one conference call regarding this with some of the officers just to set things in motion for next year."
Long says TMC "tweaks" the event from year to year to keep things fresh and to prevent technicians from getting into a comfort zone.

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