SuperTech Diesel Tech competition

SuperTech gives Diesel students a chance to grow and find jobs

"This is like our Super Bowl." Brad Wake, Diesel Technology Instructor

Some of the best diesel truck technicians in Oklahoma were side-by-side at a unique and important event last week.

“This is like our Super Bowl,” said Brad Wake, Diesel Technology instructor at Francis Tuttle Technology Center.

The annual Oklahoma Technician Skills Championship – also known as SuperTech – was held inside the Diesel Tech building at Francis Tuttle’s Reno Campus in Oklahoma City on Friday, May 10. It brought together professionals and students from all levels of the diesel truck manufacturing and repair industry, one that has grown in importance given the recent focus on supply chains and the availability of goods.

Put simply, these people keep those hard-working drivers and their trucks on the road delivering important items. And they love the chance to show off how they do it in the spirit of competition.

Plus, there’s the added bonus of thousands of dollars of tools on the line.

“This is pretty tough, I’ll be honest with you,” Tyler Britt, one of six Francis Tuttle students competing in SuperTech, said. “It’s a lot of new experiences for me. I’ve seen stuff that we didn’t focus on as much in class.”

Francis Tuttle has hosted SuperTech for about 14 years at its Diesel Technology program, located in the heart of OKC’s industrial area on Reno Avenue. Diesel tech students from from CareerTech schools and programs across the state – including Tulsa, Gordon Cooper, and Mid-America Technology Centers, and OSU Institute of Technology in Okmulgee – put job skills they have learned in their training programs to the test.

They compete alongside professional technicians from local shops and dealerships. Bruckners Mack and Volvo, CVR Energy, and Cox Automotive all had competitors at this year’s SuperTech.

Each of the 25 total competitors were judged and scored through a written test and 13 stations covering the key components of diesel truck operation and maintenance. They are tested on brakes, alignment, engine diagnostics, tire inflation, lights, service info, fasteners, and even the types of fluid that are important for diesel trucks.

Industry professionals and representatives do the scoring, and sometimes they take the opportunity to network and find prospective employees for an industry where new technicians are in high demand.

“I talked to a couple of them, and it’s been pretty good,” Edgar Tellez, another Francis Tuttle Diesel Tech student, said. “Some of them were already talking to me about a job.”

The industry is very aware of the benefits of competitions like SuperTech. On top of face-to-face meetings with potential employees, they get a sense of how to communicate industry knowledge effectively.

If a lot of competitors are getting something wrong, for instance, then that tells the professionals they need to change how they talk about that particular issue.

SuperTech also attracts interest from outside of Oklahoma, where the need for good, trained workers is still very present. Representatives from North Texas Automobile Dealers looking to add a truck component to their competition – which is held at the Texas Motor Speedway – visited Francis Tuttle on Friday just to see SuperTech in action.

The Oklahoma Trucking Association hosted SuperTech at Francis Tuttle, and several states have their own version under the umbrella of the Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC). The winners then compete at nationals in Raleigh, North Carolina. Francis Tuttle student Kyle Maxwell finished in first place and qualified to compete at nationals.

For Francis Tuttle, hosting SuperTech it’s a no-lose situation. Students get hands-on, real-world work, professionals and vendors get to see the Diesel Tech facility; and it’s a great way for students to find their next step in a valuable career journey.

“It’s great exposure, for sure,” Wake said. “Some of our former students who competed in this and now have jobs in the industry come back to judge and help us run it. We’ve had guys hired right from this. I tell them all the time it’s a great networking thing.”

by Adam Troxtell - May 14, 2024