Auto service instructors can only go over things so much, said instructor Bob Larkin, at Dunwoody Instititute of Technology, and a story or experience can often trigger something in students’ understanding.
“It’s fun to see them get it,” said the former Rudy Luther’s Toyota technician and Saturn service veteran. Sharing his own “wrenching” experiences to enhance learning makes it fun for him, he explains.
Larkin taught nights at Dunwoody in Minneapolis while working as a technician. He finished his bachelor’s degree after 15 years with Saturn and almost four at RL Toyota, covering all systems except hybrid.
A stint on the school’s curriculum advisory committee opened the door for teaching, so Larkin tested the waters. “I liked talking about what I know, so the transition seemed to fit,” he said.
And, Larkin knows a lot, teaching classes in general skills such as service information, nuts and bolts, tools and basic engine principles. Then, he‘s on to brakes, steering, suspension and alignment, and transmissions and tranxaxles.
Chrysler, Honda and Toyota manufacturer programs give students access to the latest vehicles and service info.
To attract more young people to the field, it needs to start early, finding those kids who are curious about how things work and who like to fix things, Larkin said.
Industry should also connect with secondary schools and work to retain their auto programs. He says there is a need to stress to the general public how technical the field has become and the many opportunities that are available.