OGDEN — Thomas Witbeck, a senior at Weber State who’ll graduate in 2020, is already a top contender in his field.
Witbeck was one of just 54 technicians selected nationwide to receive the Subaru University/National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Technician of the Year award — out of 750,000 automotive professionals, according to to a Weber State press release.
Of the 54 technicians who were recognized, he was one of only two students to receive the award, the release said. He was presented with the award on Wednesday, Nov. 13, in Phoenix.
The award is based on his performance on ASE certification exams and his work in an internship with Subaru University, an ASE partner.
Despite his speciality in this area, Witbeck’s experience at Weber State has been broad. Right now, he’s in a jewelry class.
He likes the process of taking one thing, like a silver coin, and transforming it into something else.
“People talk about de-stressing and self care,” Witbeck said in an interview with the Standard-Examiner. “My form of self care is shifting gears. It’s not necessarily slowing down, it’s just changing my focus. ... Being able to broaden my horizons, to try different things helps me to relax and perform at my best.”
In addition to helping him relax, Witbeck said that participating in the arts actually promotes the kind of thinking that helps him be successful in his field.
“I like keeping balance between right-side and left-side brain thinking,” Witbeck said, “because I have to be very analytical in automotive, but I also have to be able to think outside the box to figure out what problems really are.
“We talk a lot about root-cause diagnosis (in the automotive field) because the car may have many symptoms, but it is unlikely that there are multiple causes for all of those symptoms. Generally, they’re an overarching thing.”
In addition to his participation in the arts, which he calls his “sanity classes,” Witbeck is also on his way to completing an unusual combination of majors.
When he graduates in the spring of 2020, he’ll have a double major in advanced vehicle systems and integrated studies, which involves three emphasis areas.
Witbeck’s emphasis areas are supply chain management, field service operations and Spanish.
He has also led the Weber Racing club, which brings together students who love cars.
“I’ve been so thankful for the people that I’ve been able to work with,” Witbeck said, describing his peers in Weber Racing, which has a team that builds small off-road vehicles called Mini Bajas. The team enters them in competitions that test the Mini Bajas on difficult terrain.
He said that leading the team for two years has driven home the importance of collaboration.
Witbeck is the first automotive student at Weber State to pursue and emphasis in supply chain management.
He took the plunge after a professor in his business administration course pulled him aside and encouraged him to pursue the field.
She said business administration is good for general things, but supply chain management would be more useful for his work in the automotive industry.
“I’m very thankful to my professors for helping prepare me to enter the automotive industry to the point where I was able to receive this award,” Witbeck said.