At Pickens Technical College, you’ll learn to use all the tools at your disposal to do your job effectively and efficiently. Of course, using the right tools the right way in the right situations is only part of the story of being a professional in any field, so before we get too far into using the magnificent torque wrench to loosen stubborn screws and bolts on motorcycles, let’s go over the Motorcycle Technician program at PTC one more time.
Instructor Tom Laing sees it as his mission to put his students in position to succeed in many job positions within the motorcycle technician field at many different skill levels. Laing has been a PTC instructor for 16 years, and worked in the industry for 14 years before that. He has experience working in all parts of the American and Metric Motorcycle dealership, mostly as a line mechanic and a service manager.
Most recently, Laing was recognized as PTC’s Advisor of the Year in 2017 for his work with his students in the Skills-USA Student Organization. He has taken students to multiple Motorcycle Technology competitions at the local, state, and national levels, and his students have finished in the top ten every year at the national level from 2001 to 2016.
Laing loves to teach his students about how to solve problems for customers by knowing which tool to use in which situation. For stubborn screws and bolts that are difficult to remove with a common screwdriver, motorcycle technicians use the torque wrench.
Chances are, if you think you’ve never seen a torque wrench before, you probably have . Torque wrenches usually have long handles and a box of differently-sized screw settings designed to handle different kinds of screws and bolts. Usually, you can take these screw fittings off and on with a small switch either on the wrench handle or on its head.
Some torque wrenches have ‘torque settings’ on the handle, allowing you to choose how tight you want the bolts to be. You might think that the tighter the better for things like tires and other key parts of motorcycles, but most amateurs tend to overtighten these bolts, causing broken bolts, stripped screw and bolt threads, and damaged equipment. Overtightening is so common, in fact, that many torque wrenches make clicking noises when they reach your desired torque or when they are simply tight enough. Torque wrenches usually come in four types: clickers, bending beam, dual beam, and digital. All have their own mechanisms (with varying accuracy) for avoiding overtightening. Dual beam and digital wrenches are the most accurate, but also by far the most expensive.
When untightening and re-tightening lug nuts on a wheel, for example, the best way to avoid damage or overtightened nuts is to spin the lug nuts back on the stud (threaded screw-like place where the wheel attaches and is held on by the lug nut) by hand, then tighten down with the torque wrench. Laing and his fellow motorcycle technicians warn users to avoid coating the stud with grease. This is unnecessary to get the lug nut to turn with a torque wrench and can cause premature loosening.
Obviously, if you want the full story of how to use a torque wrench properly to work on your own bike, or to use it professionally, you’ll need to see Laing himself in the motorcycle shop.
Pickens Technical College’s Hospitality and Tourism program is no stranger to helping the community. Part of the draw of the program is that it puts students in the community working with real industry leaders so they’re well-prepared to enter the industry after they graduate. The capstone project for the course is a marketing cooperative learning experience at an approved site, giving students the responsibility and the experience in real logistical situations.
Hospitality and Tourism instructor Kim Reiser is also PTC’s DECA Advisor. She is constantly challenging her students and the PTC community to help people in the area and find new ways to support community organizations such as the Colfax Community Network, which operates a food bank supporting hundreds of families struggling with hunger.
Every year, the Colfax Community Network runs a food drive for the community, gathering thousands of pounds of food that many in the community rely on. This year, the Network partnered with Reiser and PTC.
Reiser said of her program’s participation:
The students in my program have asked the officers council if our program could coordinate the annual PTC Colfax Community Network food and hygiene drive because we have a few highly motivated individuals who saw a need to continue the food drive and to make it better than ever. We have distributed donation boxes, communicated to programs, faculty and staff and to our social media networks. This is a much-needed initiative for our community and I would like to see this annual food and hygiene continue for years to come.
Reiser says that her goal is to collect 1000 pounds of food by Spring Break. They set a goal of 300 pounds of food collected in January, February, and March. She and her organizers also set up a competition: the PTC program that donates the most food is recognized by the Hospitality and Tourism program with a coffee, tea, and cocoa bar delivered to their classroom for a day.
Reiser says that the opportunities to help others through her program helps students: “It has been my experience over the years that students who volunteer early can experience the numerous ways they can help others. I provide the opportunities, and the hope is they find a cause or organization that they feel passionate about and will continue to support after graduation.”
The food drive is needed right now because it’s about this time of year that the holiday food drive collectionss run out in food banks. Reiser says that she and her organizers have collected about 500 pounds of food so far—on track for their goal. “More importantly though, we have seen individuals in our school make donations to the cause when they too could use a helping hand. PTC students, faculty and staff support our community in many ways and assisting the Colfax community network is just one way!” said Reiser.
PTC’s sponsored community events like this put students in the community and help them make connections while assisting those in need. To find out more about the Colfax Community Network, visit their Facebook page .
Pickens Technical College emphasizes careers after graduation for its students. Every course you take here immerses you in the job you want, giving you not only the skills to perform when the checks start coming in, but also a way to connect with potential employers in the area. The PTC Career Services office helps students make connections with local businesses and leaders, so that when you graduate, you’ll have a head start on a great career.
Graduation is still three months away, but it’s a good time to prepare. Here are a few steps to get you from graduation to a day job in no time. Remember that it’s a good idea to start a few of these steps long before you graduate to give yourself the best chance of success.
Never Too Early to Network
Some people would much rather have coffee by themselves than try to network or navigate certain social circles, but, whether you enjoy awkwardly talking to strangers or acquaintances in the hopes they may have a job opening for you in the future or not, it’s crucial to finding a job, especially in the low-unemployment world of metro Denver.
Luke Vernon, who operates the job-finding company Luke’s Circle in Boulder, was quoted in the Denver Post , saying: “If you’re a job seeker, spend 75 percent of your time meeting people, taking people out to coffee, and navigating social and professional networks. Most job seekers spend 75 percent looking on job boards. That’s backwards.”
So put on your smile and your slacks on and start taking people out to coffee. With social media and other forms of communication, it’s becoming much more commonplace for potential job seekers to reach out to workers at a particular company. Start with entry-level workers—they’ll be eager to share their knowledge of the industry and the company with you right off the bat. Even a simple coffee date can stick in someone’s mind. When a position opens at a company, it helps to know people in the building who can put in a good word and tell you how and when to apply. Start this process before you graduate.
When it comes time to apply for a job, you should have a resume ready to go. Look at simple, easy resume templates online and make sure your writing is clear and succinct.
As an experienced job-seeker, I like to compile all my experience at previous positions, my skills, and my education into one long resume, which I call the ‘master resume.’ When I find a position I’d like to apply to, I edit the ‘master resume’ down to one page, only presenting the experience and skills relevant to the position. Draw up a ‘master resume’ today, make it perfect, and you’ll have a good start when you graduate.
Practice a few cover letters if you think you’ll need to do them for your dream job. Look at advertisements for positions in your field long before you apply to see what you’ll need when the time comes.
Preparing for Interviews
If you’re lucky enough to get a call back and a summons for an interview, research the company, its products or services, the leaders of the company, their brand statement or mission—gather all the information you can about the company and the things or services it sells. Write down a few questions to ask your interviewers, and check out other resources like Glassdoor to read reviews and get tips about how to interview with the company.
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