By Michael Hart
SEMA–North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) Education Foundation Award recognizes the automotive technology instructors who develop exemplary aftermarket curriculum, inspire their students and elevate the quality of future industry professionals.
The three finalists for the first SEMA–North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) Education Foundation Award have been announced, and the winner of the competition will be revealed at a ceremony to be attended by all three at the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, November 1–4.
The new award—presented by SEMA in conjunction with the NACAT—is intended to recognize the automotive technology instructors who develop exemplary aftermarket curriculum, inspire their students and elevate the quality of future industry professionals.
The three finalists are:
- Jordan Engelhardt, Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Illinois.
- Paul L. Nelson, Northwest Technical College in Bemidji, Minnesota.
- Brian McDonnell, GST BOCES Coopers Education Center in Painted Post, New York.
All three will receive free registration to the 2016 SEMA Show, airfare to Las Vegas and hotel accommodations. The winner will also receive free registration to the NACAT Conference next July in Warren, Michigan.
Each contest entrant was asked to submit a video that demonstrated their use of aftermarket products in the classroom, their aftermarket curriculum and the passion of the students in the program. Instructors at any public or private secondary or post-secondary school or training center in the United States or Canada was eligible.
In his classes at Lyons Township High School, Engelhardt’s students this year are building a ’29 Model A from the bottom up. They’re also using papercraft—a form of origami for cars—to create a go-kart replica of a Lamborghini.
He said he’s looking forward to visiting the SEMA Show because “the more I can connect with people doing cool things, the greater impact I can have on my kids’ future.”
Nelson said his program in Minnesota is “strictly focused on aftermarket. That’s what makes it so special.”
“I’m training the next generation of engine machinists,” he added.
In fact, Nelson said he does not have enough graduates to take all the job offers he has from aftermarket companies around Minnesota and Wisconsin.
McDonnell said that, with his program in Upstate New York, “I’m trying to teach students what they need to know to stay at the forefront of automotive technology.”
Even if his students go on to something else, McDonnell said, “They’ll always have this experience in their back pocket to help them down the road.”
SEMA Board Chairman Doug Evans said of the new awards program, “Too often these boots-on-the-ground champions go unrecognized, but every day, every class, they are shaping the next generation of automotive enthusiasts and employees.”