The Main Event For Professional Commercial Vehicle Technicians

This year, the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) will hold its TMCSuperTech – the National Technician Skills Competition - September 10 to 13 in Pittsburgh, PA, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. It will be the eighth annual industry-wide competition dedicated to honoring technician professionalism and to acknowledging the best of the best.

North America’s premier technical society for truck equipment technology and maintenance professionals, 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. It 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.


A two-day event, the TMCSuperTech has been specifically designed as a venue for technicians to exhibit their knowledge, skills and aptitude with medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles. The competition involves a series of written and hands-on diagnostic and problem-solving tests and challenges to test both theory and practical application.

Any actively employed commercial vehicle technician may participate in the competition. The technicians that perform the best win top honors and numerous prizes.

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

The National Technician Skills Competition was organized by the Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC) - a group within TMC established to promote and enhance the professionalism of commercial vehicle technicians.

As usual, the TMCSuperTech will be held in combination with TMC’s annual fall meeting. This year’s meeting theme is: Forging Solutions for Tomorrow’s Maintenance Challenges.


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

ASE is a non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals.

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 key diagnostic skills areas. Each station has its own set of challenges.

This year there will be 16 skills stations, two more than last year. The skills stations for TMCSuperTech2012 are: Brakes, Drivetrain, Electrical, Engine (Electronics), Engine (Hardware), Fasteners/Fastener Repair, Fifth Wheel, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), P.M.I. (Pre-Trip Inspection), Repair Order, Starting and Charging, Service Information, Suspension, Tires and Wheels, Trailer Alignment and Wheel Ends.

One of the skills stations that give competitors the most difficulty year after year is the Repair Order station, says Robert Braswell, TMC’s technical director.

At each skills station, judges use a detailed station-specific 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 by the competitors.

Judges for the Hands-On Skills Challenge are volunteers who are recognized experts within each competition area.

Braswell notes that every year the TMCSuperTech’s examination questions and skills stations are adjusted to keep up with industry developments and the ongoing changes with technology.

A grand champion is named from each TMCSuperTech. 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.


Held in conjunction with each TMCSuperTech is the PTDC Technician Training Fair. This event consists of a series of educational 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.

The sessions for this year’s Technician Training Fair are: Modern HVAC Control System Diagnostics, Fifth Wheel Systems, Understanding Loss of Tension in the Accessory Belt Drive System, Environmental Awareness and Safety Procedures, Repair Order Process Guidelines and Advanced Multimeter Techniques. (See article elsewhere this issue.)

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

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.