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Master Technician Energizes the Classroom with Real World Experience

Master Technician Energizes the Classroom with Real World Experience

  • Team PGCPS |
  • February 5, 2020

Suitland High School automotive teacher Ryan Asmussen purchased his first home at the age of 23, when he says he was making upwards of $80,000 a year working as a Certified Master Technician for Toyota and Lexus. 

Today, after a more than decade-long career in industry, Asmussen is writing a new chapter — one that brings his real world experience into the classroom to guide students along a tried and true path of putting Career and Technical Education (CTE) skills learned in high school to work.

“Top-level technicians can earn great money and without incurring student debt,” said Asmussen, who throughout his career has received additional training — all paid for by employers. “At a good dealership, you can make $40,000 your first year, $65,000 in year two and up to $80,000 in your third year, topping out at about $110,000.”

Students in the automotive technician program learn how to diagnose and repair components in the engine, transmission, and transaxle systems of vehicles. Using computerized diagnostic equipment and specialty tools, students use their knowledge of engines, critical thinking, and problem solving skills to maintain and repair cars and light vehicles.

At Suitland, Asmussen’s class is hands-on. Students spend half of their time in the classroom and the other half in the shop, learning lessons in brakes, suspension, electrical and more by performing repairs on vehicles of high school staff and community. 

Ashley Estrada, a junior who Asmussen points to as one of his strongest students, says she has long been fascinated by vehicles and repairs, an interest that bloomed watching her father work as a mechanic. Similarly, junior Christopher Oporto was introduced to the career by family and plans to work in mechanical repair for Metro while also pursuing a joint venture with his dad.

PGCPS CTE programs like Asmussen’s are like schools within a school — a model based on projected workforce trends and future employment opportunities in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. All programs have strong collaborative relationships with business, industry and post-secondary education.

In addition to preparing future automotive technicians, Asmussen leverages his relationships and skill set both to earn additional income and forge new partnerships benefiting students. In just three years overseeing the program at Suitland he has partnered with local Ford, Chevrolet and Lexus dealerships who are hiring students right after graduation.