2019 Motorcycle / Power Equipment Technician Graduate
Motorcycle Technician at Bettencourt’s Honda-Suzuki
As a kid I liked bikes; I’ve been riding since I was 7.
I’ve always had a bike, except when I was in the military. I was also good at working hands-on. In high school, they didn’t have motorcycle training, so I took an automotive tech program.
Then 911—September 11, 2001—happened.
Another dream of mine was that I had always wanted to be a Marine. After four years in the military, I got hurt. I was honorably discharged. I felt fortunate that the military pays for veteran’s education.
Originally I had wanted to go to a program like MTTI’s.
Unfortunately, a program like MTTI’s didn’t fit the criteria for funding at that time. My coordinator thought that, based on my background and disability, I was a good fit for a career in criminal justice. With half a knee, they thought that being an Environmental Police Officer would be more appropriate than becoming a Patrolman.
I earned an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science.
There are a limited number of positions for Environmental Police. It was easier to get a position with an Environmental Science Degree. Criminal Justice came easily to me; it was structured and quasi-military. I did well. My passion just wasn’t there for Environmental Science. I thought that a career in law enforcement would be like being in the Marines; but after seeing how Environmental Police really work, I felt it wasn’t the right career for me.
I started talking with my training coordinator about attending a trade school.
I was working on cars at home. You have to get up and down to repair or maintain cars—it is hard physical work. My knee injury disqualified me from getting funding to enroll in an automotive training program.
My coordinator asked, “If you could do anything in life and be happy, what would that be?
I told her I wanted to rebuild motorcycles, work from my home and be able to get my kid off the bus when he comes home from school. She said “Do what matters to you and be happy—you’ve already lived a stressful life.” She told me to find a school to train as a motorcycle technician.
When it comes down to it, you have to do what you love.
If you can wake up to go to work—but feel like you are not really going to work—isn’t that the best way? And, when you work in the motorcycle industry, you get to ride what you build.
The sheer power to weight ratio of motorcycles is amazing.
In under 4 seconds, a motorcycle can go from 0 – 100 miles an hour—it is something! You can buy a bike shipped in a box from Japan; it comes out of the box at almost 190 miles per hour. A bike’s performance is exhilarating—get on a bike, and everything else disappears.
I don’t test well, but I can understand when I go out to the shop and do it.
That’s what is so good about MTTI—you are actually doing it. In the Motorcycle / Power Equipment Technician shop, you have every specialty tool you will need—the correct tool that you will need to do the job. You learn the right way to do things, before you go out to work. You are working on a motorcycle—it’s someone’s life.
The instructors at MTTI are amazing.
I often asked questions that were beyond what we were learning in class. Gary and Billy were always able to answer—or they would find out the answer to my questions.
I’ve had a lot of mentors in life.
They were all great, and I learned a lot from them. You can work for some mentors, who answer when you ask, ‘Who cares—just fix the part.’ But knowing why a part failed can be preventative. It teaches you what to look for. You may see it again a bunch of times of times and, when you do, you’ll know what to do. Gary and Billy always explained the ‘why’.
There are backyard mechanics, shop mechanics and book mechanics.
Some things have to be by the book; some things need the right tool. But if that tool, or going by the book, doesn’t work—there are ‘backyard mechanics’—people who fix things from their experience. They make it happen—fixing it in a different way and making it right. Gary and Bill are both amazing mechanics. They teach from their vast experience—and do it with patience.
There’s a lot of science behind the engineering.
You might know how to do something—know what the best choice is. Knowing the theory and how to diagnose something makes you a better mechanic. But there is something beyond these. There’s a feeling just before the bolt snaps. Or you may feel a binding resistance on something that should be spinning something else. It may only be a subtle difference. Over time you learn to feel things through your hands. You can only learn this if you are actually doing the work.
I’m ready to work because I’ve learned from the smartest mentors I‘ve ever had.
I’m so excited that, as I graduate, Gary is letting me work right next to him at Bettencourt’s. You can’t buy the kind of knowledge I am learning from him. The amount I will be continuing to learn about how to do things correctly and efficiently is priceless.
MTTI is a good school.
Before I got here, because I worked on cars, I thought I knew a lot about motorcycles and small engines. But the in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience I got in The Motorcycle / Power Equipment Technician program is more than I expected. Why does something work? Why does a part go on that way? There’s a lot more to repairing or re-building motorcycles than you would think. They are fine-tuned machines. You can get a motorcycle to run—but to get it to run at its peak performance is something else.
Photos were taken in MTTI’s Motorcycle / Power Equipment Technician shop and at graduation with Cale's Instructors, Billy Barry (left) and Gary Simcock (right).