Antonio Garcia & Jameson Infantino, Automotive Tech Evening Instructors
What happens when two Instructors with very different work backgrounds team together to teach Automotive Tech students? You get one awesome combination—like peanut butter and jelly.
Tony became interested in auto mechanics while helping his uncle with race cars at the drag strip.
“I got the bug for it. Then I took small engine repair in High School.” Since then, Tony has built his skills and knowledge working at a Subaru Dealership for 30 years. Tony has earned professional certifications—he’s fully factory certified for Subaru and is ASE Master Certified.
“Even after 30 years, I still remember what it was like to be looking for that first job.”
“I tell students that I had to fight for the job—the company was looking for more experience than I had. I told them, ‘Give me a shot. I’ll do what it takes. You won’t regret it.’ I encourage students to do the same.”
Jameson didn’t have any mechanical experience while growing up.
“No one in my family was in the trade or worked on cars. My interest started after I got my driver’s license—I liked going fast. I started tinkering with my car and going to the drag strip and street races at night. I wanted to see what those guys were doing to make their cars go fast. But I could only learn what they were willing to give away—they held onto their secrets. I had to watch their hands to see what they did.”
After serving in the Marine Corps, Jameson enrolled in a trade school.
I earned an Associate’s degree---then, after a few years in the automotive field, I went back to night school and earned a second degree in mechanical engineering. I wanted to understand how engineers designed things. I enjoyed learning math, physics, machining and quality control. But if I were to work in an engineering job, I’d probably be drafting with AutoCAD, or designing the same thing over and over. I wouldn’t like being stuck behind a desk all day.”
Tony says, “Working in auto mechanics is all about the challenge for me.”
“The best part of the industry is getting a car from another car dealership that they couldn’t fix—then spending some time figuring out what isn’t working and fixing it. Typically an upset customer has spent a ton of dollars elsewhere. When you fix their car, you get a happy customer and a happy boss.”
Like Tony, Jameson enjoys the challenge of solving problems and fixing things hands-on.
Where Tony has mastered Subaru vehicles, Jameson has accrued 10 years of experience making general repairs on all makes and models of vehicles—old and new.
They agree that working in the trades is a very good option to earn a living.
“We want young people in high school to know that it’s OK to want to work with your hands. If you are in high school, you’re probably hearing that you should go to college. As a young person, you have every road ahead of you—you have to decide which one is right for you.”
Tony first considered teaching when he saw MTTI’s ad for an evening Auto Tech Instructor.
“I thought, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’ At work, I saw people who came out of school and weren’t prepared for the industry. I wanted to see if I could make a difference. To fix something, you have to know how it works. After many years in the workforce, I’ve learned the tricks of the trade. I love problem solving and making creative repairs. I can show students the way I would do it—effective shortcuts that are easier, but get the job done right.”
In the shop, Tony demonstrates the work with precision, grace and efficiency derived from years of practice.
“I tell students to ‘plan the task out so that it becomes a smooth transition from thinking through the problem to working on it. Step back and look at the whole picture. Have patience—relax—don’t just give up.’ It makes me feel proud—gives me the goosebumps—when someone understands something I’ve told them or can do something I've demonstrated.”
Jameson says, “I couldn’t ask for a better colleague than Tony."
“I knew Tony by name before I ever met him. His reputation precedes him in the high performance industry. Tony can fabricate roll cages and anything you need for vehicles. Everyone in racing likes him, which is unusual. His skill in racing and building cars is outstanding. He’s unbelievably talented—and extremely humble.”
Tony says, “Working with Jameson is like peanut butter and jelly—it’s awesome.”
“I have the muscle--Jameson has the words.” Jameson agrees, “I do the talking and Tony does the walking. I’m able to translate what students read in the service procedures and boil it down to the meat and potatoes of how to get the job done quickly, correctly and safely. Safety is the #1 priority.”
Jameson adds, “I encourage students to read, ask questions and to share what they’ve learned.”
"I hope to inspire students to want to learn. I always ask myself the question ‘why’ when I’m thinking that something doesn’t make sense. After a few months, I see that in the students—they are more inclined to raise their hands and ask the questions.”
“We’re always communicating about what’s going on with the students in the shop or classroom. “
Tony and Jameson say they have a similar way of thinking about how to approach students to deliver the info to them. “Even when we have different ideas, we can talk about it and come up with how to best combine ideas or choose one idea over the other. We learn from each other.”
“Seeing how we work as a team influences the way students treat one another.”
“We’re showing them how they can work with other people—some of whom will have a lot more experience than they do at the beginning of their career. We want them to feel confident about what they’ve learned in school—but be open to other ways of doing things. We’re setting students up for continuing to learn on the job.”
Evening students new to the program work in the shop with students at the end of their program.
The senior students help the newer ones practice basic tasks like changing oil or mounting tires. “If a student can demonstrate a task, or assist another student with a skill, it reinforces what they’ve learned. Students build relationships and bond—we’ve never seen a student left out. They take care of one another—we’ve seen students make slides of material to share with students who have missed a class.”
Jameson says, “Becoming an Instructor at MTTI has been a real blessing.”
"The students have been eager to learn what Tony and I have to share. The energy and the motivation of the students have revitalized my love for the industry. We’re watching students do more and more impressive work—even before they complete the program and go to work in the industry. They are inspiring both of us.”
Tony and Jameson say, “Any success is never just mine—or his—alone.”
“We’re a team. Like peanut butter and jelly, one of us wouldn’t be as successful without the other.” To anyone considering training evenings as an Auto Tech, they say, “If you have a positive attitude, if you want to do this—we want to help you. We’ll do what it takes.”
“At the end of the day, it’s our students who make us look good.”
“It’s their hard work that makes them successful. We give students respect as adults—as our equals. After all, one day in the future, it’s entirely possible that Tony or I could be working with any one of them as colleagues in the automotive industry.”