Former OTC student knows the benefits of tech ed

Former OTC student knows the benefits of tech ed

Monday, January 27, 2014

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Mark Miller
College Director of Communication 417.447.2655 millerm@otc.edu
Laura French
Coordinator of Public Information 417.447.2659 frenchl@otc.edu

Gabe McLaughlin sees the irony in being picked as the subject for a story about National Career and Technical Education month.

About 14 years ago, McLaughlin was a student at Hillcrest High School who took automotive classes at OTC.

Today, the 30 year old has come full circle and is teaching those same classes for OTC as a full-time automotive instructor.

"I never expected to be 30 and doing this," he said.

But teaching seemed to be something he always wanted to do, even when he was repairing engines while still in high school at a local car dealership and the Springfield-Branson National Airport. McLaughlin wanted something more.

"Being a mechanic, I wasnt in the position to impact someone's life. Even when youre doing charity work, you can do the labor for free but someone has to pay for the parts," he said.

"Teaching gives me a chance to make a positive impact on someones life."

McLaughlin said he really wasn't planning to make auto mechanics a career. He just wanted a job to make money to buy a house and pay for college.

"Working on cars was something I liked to do and before I knew it, I had a career in the industry," he said.

He got his degree in education and started at OTC this semester, where he teaches two courses on engine repair. McLaughlin said automotive repair is more demanding because of technological advances in automotive design.

"Cars are really advancing technologically. You have to be able to understand wiring diagrams and read dense manuals," he said.

"It's a matter of learning how the millions of parts work together to keep the customer happy and moving down the road. The everyday handy man can't do it."

McLaughlin is grateful that he took the high school courses at OTC where he learned a skill and got the teaching bug.

"I wouldnt be here if I havent come to OTC," he said. "I love being able to inspire students and really build the next generation of mechanics by passing along my experience. I can share with students how to have a successful career."