WSU Student Receives National Automotive Award
OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University senior Thomas Witbeck was selected from more than 750,000 automotive professionals to receive the Subaru University/National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Technician of the Year award.
Witbeck was one of 54 technicians nationwide, only two of whom are students, selected this year. He is also the first student from Weber State to receive the award, which was presented on Nov. 13 in Phoenix, Arizona.
“Each year the ASE recognizes the top technicians in the automotive service industry,” said Scott Hadzik, automotive technology department chair. “Thomas’s outstanding performance as an intern for Subaru of America as well as his demonstrated technical competency in the Weber State automotive program helped him achieve this recognition.”
To receive the Technician of the Year award, automotive professionals must pass the ASE certification tests with high scores and actively work in the industry, as well as receive supervisor recognition and nomination from an ASE partner.
Witbeck is currently pursuing two degrees, a bachelor of advanced vehicle systems and a bachelor of integrated studies, which includes three areas of emphasis: field service operations, supply chain management and Spanish.
Despite not having an automotive background, Witbeck developed a passion for all things automotive at Brighton High School when he discovered his school’s automotive program.
“I decided I’d like to know how to work on my own cars, so I ended up taking every automotive class that was offered, and I loved it,” Witbeck said. “I then decided I wanted to get an associate’s degree in automotive technology, and I knew if my interests changed, I could move forward with the knowledge to reach my original goal of being able to fix my own cars.”
Witbeck was drawn to Weber State’s automotive program when the former president of Weber Racing, a student automotive club, visited Witbeck’s high school on a recruitment trip.
“He came to my school and presented about Weber State and how the automotive program works, which helped me decide to come here for my associate’s degree” Witbeck said. “When I got here, I realized how amazing the program is and how many opportunities exist in the automotive industry, so I decided to pursue my bachelor’s degrees here as well.”
Since joining Weber State, Witbeck has become the president of Weber Racing. In that position, he helps organize events and connects students with fellow car lovers. He has also led a team of automotive students in building an off-road vehicle for the Baja competition.
The Society of Automotive Engineers hosts the Baja competition annually in various locations around the country. Over the course of a year, participants create a reduced-scale, off-road Mini Baja vehicle according to specific criteria to compete in a series of events such as an endurance race and a maneuverability test.
“We have been competing in the Baja competition for two years now, and it has been a great learning opportunity for everyone involved,” Witbeck said. “It teaches you about project management, repairs, sales, marketing and everything in between. It’s a lot of work, but it is massively rewarding to see the finished product and compete with other schools.”
When he’s not working on cars, Witbeck enjoys tapping into his creative side by getting involved in art classes.
“I like to take art classes to help balance my very deep logical thinking with abstract thinking,” Witbeck said. “I am in a jewelry class right now, and I love it. It allows me to exercise my creativity so that I can still have those big thinking-outside-of-the-box moments.”
Witbeck credits his mentors at Weber State and their willingness to work with students as being a major influence on his continued success in the automotive program.
“I am the first automotive student to do an emphasis in supply chain management, and I had to have a lot of discussions to make that happen,” Witbeck said. “The faculty have worked with me to find creative ways to overcome obstacles and reach my goals. Going forward, I am excited to use the knowledge and skills I’ve gained from my time at Weber State as I move into my career.”
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