Mason knows that his greatest asset in education comes from his ability to learn hands-on. This played out well for him working at Hi-Tech in the morning and studying at Universal Technical Institute in the afternoon.
CJ: Mason, you seem to thrive in environments where you can learn with your hands.
Mason: It’s true. Learning hands-on is much easier than just listening to a lecture. If you can touch it and move it, you come away with a full understanding rather than just knowledge. I’d say the combination is like gaining both wisdom and knowledge.
CJ: I can see how that would be practical and helpful for troubleshooting.
Mason: Exactly. I love troubleshooting. It’s like a detective that narrows and hunts down an issue. He seeks out the clues and based on experience determines the core problem and its cause.
CJ: So, experience comes with both lecture and hands on work?
Mason: By the time this article is printed I’ll have added two more certifications to my figurative tool belt. The 608 Technician Certification is based on current EPA regulations and includes everything to do with stationary refrigeration and air conditioning. The 609 Certification focuses on motor vehicle air conditioning. To be certified, I had to participate in lectures and hands-on workshops followed by a written test and a hands-on test to prove mastery of knowledge and skills.
CJ: Do you have a goal in mind concerning certifications?
Mason: I want to earn my Master Technician for Automotive and Diesel certifications. It would include drive train, brakes, suspension and steering, electrical system, HVAC system and diesel engines.
CJ: Then what?
Mason: I hope to work until I’m 50 and retire.
CJ: With Social Security retirement age shifting to 67 for your generation and self-driving cars coming into play, do you think you’ll actually be able to retire at 50?
Mason: I haven’t really given it any thought until you asked, but I don’t think self-driving cars will completely get rid of regular cars. Although, on CNN, I watched a clip of the driverless flying drone cars they’re introducing as taxis in Dubai. The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority has already approved the vehicles and they expect 25% of all current taxis to be replaced by 2030.
CJ: Will your certifications cover flying drone cars?
Mason: Once you’re a Master Certified Mechanic, your education doesn’t stop. I’ll continue to learn how to repair and maintain all kinds of vehicles throughout my career.
CJ: What’s next for you?
Mason: Once I graduate, I’ll head down to Arizona for an additional 3 months of training on all GM vehicles. I’ll be trained on the latest vehicles and some of the future vehicles getting ready for production. It’ll be like the ASE Master program but in a shorter time frame and with a specific focus on GM models.
CJ: Hi-Tech customers will certainly appreciate the additional skills and knowledge you bring to the shop. But let’s talk about your personal life, if you don’t mind. What do you do for fun?
Mason: I live in Wisconsin so I have a one-hour commute both ways. The cost-of-living savings far exceeds my cost of gas. But by the time I get home, I have little time to do anything except chill on my bed while watching Netflix.
CJ: How about weekends?
Mason: I get together with a couple of friends. We knock around, talk, and tell jokes.
CJ: In closing, what would you like to say to anyone out there interested in becoming a mechanic?
Mason: Make sure you love it and don’t give up when the hard times hit, because they will. The only ones that survive are those who push through for the love of the craft. You’ve got to love it to be great.