SEMA Scholarship Awards Presented

SEMA Member News—November 2016


By Katie Carson

SEMA Scholarship Awards Presented

 Austin Hiebert
Austin Hiebert of McPherson College is this year’s Top Student scholarship winner.

The SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund is dedicated to fostering the next generation of automotive aftermarket industry leaders and innovators. Each year, SEMA provides awards to a number of deserving students currently pursuing degrees ranging from accounting to mechanical engineering, with goals of becoming professionals in the automotive industry. The awards range from $2,000–$3,000, with $5,000 going to the top student.

Since its inception in 1984, the Memorial Scholarship Fund program has granted $2.1 million to more than 1,200 students. This year, a grand total of $168,000 was awarded in scholarship money and loan forgiveness for professionals currently working in the industry. Applications for the 2017–2018 academic year open on November 1, 2016. Apply at

Top Student Scholarship Winner

Austin Hiebert, a senior majoring in automotive restoration business management at McPherson College, is this year’s Top Student award recipient, receiving the Jeff Moses/ARMO award of $5,000. SEMA Member News caught up with him to learn his goals.

SEMA Member News: How do you feel that this scholarship aids in your success?

AH: My dream has always been to graduate from college—a first generation for my family. Not only does this scholarship help me financially to work toward my eventual goal of operating my own shop, but it also opens my eyes to parts of the automotive industry I had no idea existed.

Visiting the SEMA Show showed me all the different tracks a person can be involved in and still stay within the automotive world. The connections you can make, the beauty in the work and the blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes are what make it all worthwhile. It helps me to see the big picture, where I can possibly go and what I can do with my life, my projects and my degree.

SMN: What field of work do you hope to go into after graduation?

AH: Following commencement, I plan to return home to the family farm in Kansas. I plan to also continue my employment at a local shop during the fall and winter months, where I work on custom sheetmetal fabrication for ’32–’40 Ford V8 cars. My long-term goal is to eventually build a mechanic/restoration shop near the farm and expand my business from there, both with farm fabrication and repair as well as continuing and growing the restoration side of things.

SMN: We see that your interests include hot rods, restoration and tools and equipment. Where did that come from?

AH: I grew up on a farm in rural Kansas, so I was basically born with a wrench in my hand. I began my love for restoration when I was young and saw restored tractors at the Kansas State Fair each year. I set a goal to compete when I was old enough. Little did I know that I would complete that goal three times, with two of my entries competing on the national level, as well, in conjunction with the National FFA and Delo/Chevron.

SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program

 Tate Emerson
Tate Emerson of A.R.E Accessories is a recipient of a SEMA Student Loan Forgiveness Award.

The SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program is dedicated to aiding recent graduates in getting off to a successful start in automotive aftermarket careers. SEMA offers $2,000 awards toward outstanding student loans for individuals who are employed by SEMA-member companies, with a top applicant potentially receiving $5,000. The 2017–2018 Loan Forgiveness applications will open November 1, 2016.

Tate Emerson is a recipient of a SEMA Student Loan Forgiveness Award sponsored by TORA and Harlan Felder. Emerson is an Ohio University graduate majoring in mechanical engineering and now serves as a corporate project manager for A.R.E Accessories LLC. SMN caught up with Emerson to find out what this award means to him.

SMN: Tell us about your responsibilities in your current position at A.R.E.

Tate Emerson: Generally, I try to facilitate communication among our department heads to foster continuous improvement. I also have a long history in engineering and design, so I dabble in that as well.

SMN: What does it mean to you to receive this award?

TE: That is twofold. First, it means that I am that much closer to being free of college debt. Second, receiving this honor makes me feel more a part of the automotive aftermarket industry—partly because I have been directly recognized by SEMA for my work, but also because the application process tasked me with identifying my contributions to A.R.E. and to our industry as a whole. That forced me to see myself and my work from an entirely new perspective—a perspective you don’t get while trudging through the daily grind.

SMN: Do you have any advice for potential applicants?

TE: Let your personality come through in your application. Get the technical stuff taken care of, but make sure that the committee gets a feel for who you are and what makes you tick. Also, getting my transcripts from college was more involved than I had anticipated. Start early.