This archived article was written by: Ashley Stilson
What’s the first thought that comes to mind at the words “automotive technician”? A mechanic’s shop or a car dealership is what many people would picture. However, Richard Dye, the new automotive technician instructor for USU Eastern, wants to teach students that the automotive business is more diversified than that.
Dye was born in Southern Alberta, Canada. He attended BYU Idaho, known at the time as Ricks College, where he received an associate’s in automotive small business management. He married and moved to Utah where he went to Weber State and earned a duel bachelor’s in automotive technology and sales and services. A few years later, he returned and received his master’s in education.
His favorite hobbies include anything outdoors. “I enjoy riding horses, camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, backpacking. I’ve got a Jeep and I enjoy going four-wheeling and doing trails.”
Before coming to USU Eastern, Dye taught at BYUI for five years. He has also worked for Ford and Chrysler corporations. He decided to come to USU Eastern, Dye said because “I liked the area and I saw the opportunity that I could expand and grow up on what I’ve got my education in. I don’t want my teaching to be a dead-end job. I want to be able to continue to expand my horizon and progress and I saw my opportunity here at USU [Eastern].”
Talking about his experience working for large automotive industries, Dye commented, “I really enjoyed it. When I was with Ford…it is corporate, but it [was] good. I enjoyed it, but as everyone has seen in the car market, one year they’re up in the top, and [then] there are big swings… You don’t know about job security. But as far as working with Ford, it was great.”
Dye was also a technical support manager for the 10-western states under Chrysler. But, said Dye, “It involved a huge amount of travel and I was never home. I didn’t like that aspect. I liked to be home with my family. So that’s another benefit to Price. I can be with my family.”
Even if money wasn’t an object, Dye would still be involved in the automotive industry. “I’ve always worked on cars, always played with cars. I grew up on a farm where technology was part of the day, so I figured I might as well know what I’m doing instead of just guessing what I’m doing.”
His favorite part about being an automotive technician is “seeing how you can make people happy by figuring out their cars…When you fix somebody’s car and it runs a lot better, I like that…I enjoy cars, I enjoy working on them. And when you don’t have the pressures of time, it’s actually an enjoyable hobby.”
Dye used a unique example to describe some difficulties about being an automotive technician. “If you’re a doctor, you’ve got two models and one make. And most of them speak the same language and most of the parts don’t change. When you have cars, you’ve got Toyota and Honda and Nissan, Ford, Chrysler, Mercedes and BMW. A lot of the parts are the same, but they do things differently. The computer programming is all different. So for a technician to be good on everything, it is really a difficult task to keep up with everything…It’s not just being able to diagnose the mechanical part but you’ve got to be able to do the electronics and the computer and the software.”
Explaining about the aspects of his job, Dye said, “Every job is different, every job is unique. You’re not doing the same thing twice. That’s interesting because it’s not like assembly line work…There’s a lot of mystery solving in it.”
Right now students are working on fixing brakes and studying internal-combustion engines. “We’ve been able to take apart small engines…some chainsaws and lawn motors that don’t run and the students have been able to figure out what it takes to make them run. That knowledge can be taken to a car really easily.”
His goals and plans when working with students is clear and focused; “I want to teach students that the automotive business is very diversified.” He explains that many people forget that there are other aspects of the automotive industry besides fixing cars, such as technical writing for service manuals and magazines or research and development. “You can develop new things, new products,” Dye describes. “How everything’s placed, whether it’s easy to reach the radio knobs…With a car business you can go anywhere in the world and work anywhere you want to.”
The most satisfying thing he does each day, Dye hesitated. “I just enjoy life all the way around. So the most satisfying thing would probably be getting up every morning to watch the sun rise. I pretty much catch it every morning. I’m an early riser and that’s what is most satisfying. Or maybe that’s most rewarding. I don’t know if I can separate it out.”
His advice to students would be, “If you’re going to buy a car, either spend enough money that you don’t have to do repairs on it all the time, or just buy one…so you don’t have to worry about a payment, but you know you’ll have some repairs. There’s just so many of us that get caught in the middle where we buy a car with payments and we have repairs too. And if you start adding up the car payment with the repairs you might as well have bought a nice car and not have the in between. So that’s hard to do, but get a second opinion. You might have to pay $50 to have someone give you a second opinion on a vehicle, but it is money well spent. Because if it saves you a $500 repair the first month you own the car, it’s a good investment.”