KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The gold standard in the car repair business is ASE certification. You want the auto technicians who work on your car to have it -- that blue patch on their uniforms.
This week's FOX 4 Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achievers have hit the summit in getting their ASE certification. And it's opening doors to amazing advanced training and career opportunities for them.
They started tinkering with cars years ago, drawn to it by close relatives who loved cars. And two years ago, that deep-rooted fascination brought David Affolter and Taylor Parks to study in the Automotive Technology program at the North Kansas City School District's Career and Technical Education Center. They have become wizards in all aspects of working on these machines that keep getting more and more complex and computerized.
"I just really like the problem solving," says David. "We get all our tools and we get hands-on with it and we get to fix it and then the gratitude afterward is just so great, seeing that customer so happy."
"You grow a lot coming in," says Taylor. "You have to be able to be self-sufficient. You have to be able to work on your own. And you have to be able to do the right thing."
Now as they finish this program and graduate from high school, David and Taylor have equipped themselves with something very special, valuable and uncommon for high school auto tech students. They dove in to intense study and got certified in all eight student ASE skill areas tested by The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
"Be it at the high school level, be it at the college level," says NKC Schools Auto Tech Instructor Jack Stow, "what they did as seniors in high school, passing the eight ASE certifications, approximately 5% of high schoolers are able to do that. They studied for four tests on their own, four areas that I didn't even cover. And they underwent that completely on their own."
A stellar accomplishment like getting that top-level student auto tech certification isn't something that goes unnoticed in the industry. And it didn't take long for the guys to start getting calls from the professionals. Right away, local new car dealerships hired Taylor and David for jobs in their shops. And they both got accepted to study in ASEP, the very selective General Motors advanced automotive training program at Metropolitan Community College-Longview in Lee's Summit, Mo.
"So it's just such a great opportunity for all of that to happen for me," says David.
"I'll be happy with continuing my learning on cars and keep on 'wrenching'," says Taylor. And with these young magician mechanics in the shop doing that wrenching, their instructor, Jack Stow, says, "The future is bright for the automotive industry."
One of David's and Taylor's peers in the NKC Automotive Technology program, Nelson Allsbury, narrowly missed getting the same uncommon distinction. Nelson got ASE certified in seven of the eight skill areas. And all three took the lead in the program's successful effort to get fully accredited by NATEF, The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, another rare accomplishment in the field of automotive technology education.
Fox 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 5 p.m.