“During my interview for my current teaching position at UVCC, I was asked why I wanted to teach. I replied, ‘I could try and fix every vehicle in the world, or I could teach others to fix them.’ For me, teaching represents an opportunity to have a greater impact on the world by sharing my knowledge and expertise with others.”

Andy Buehler is the automotive technology teacher at Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua, Ohio, a career center that serves fourteen schools. Growing up, he had a “fascination with all things mechanical” which led him to tinker with go-karts, lawn mowers, and eventually his first car. He attended University of Northwestern Ohio to earn his Associate’s Degree in Automotive Repair & High Performance. He discovered his passion for teaching when he worked as a heavy truck technician for the Ohio Department of Transportation, where he mentored several interns from UNOH, leading him to his current job at Upper Valley Career Center. Buehler has earned 23 Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications, which include Master Automotive, Master Medium/Heavy Truck, Master Automotive Collision, Advanced Engine Performance Specialist, Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist, and the G1 Maintenance & Light Repair. In 2018, he received a “World Class Technician Award” from the Autocare Association and ASE. In 2021 and 2022, he participated in the US Autotech National Championship, placing in the top 16 semifinals and fourth in the nation, respectively.

Buehler treats his classroom like a real-life shop where the students are the “employees.” He emphasizes the importance of work ethic, professionalism, and punctuality, providing rewards when they have a productive week. Students use the hands-on skills they learn in the classroom to carry out repairs and inspections on customer vehicles. The class shop generates donations, which go into their student activity account, and the students have a direct say in how the funds are allocated. Buehler’s curriculum adheres to the Transportation Systems Career Field Technical Content standards set by the Ohio Department of Education. Buehler’s program is accredited by the nationally-recognized ASE Education Foundation, and his students can earn valuable industry credentials prior to graduation.

For his two-year program, Buehler has built a positive and open-minded learning culture that he describes as a “small extended family”. Buehler not only teaches his students the technical skills they need, but also prepares them with “mechanic’s life lessons” including self-care as a technician and how to navigate life’s milestones. He pushes his students to challenge themselves, encouraging his seniors to compete in the US Autotech National Championships. Last year, one of his students finished 21st in the nation, competing against college-level rivals.

Buehler emphasizes the importance of incentivizing students to keep them engaged. If students have a grade of C or better in all their classes at Upper Valley Career Center, they can bring their own vehicles into the shop to perform repairs on them. To incentivize hard work and promote better attendance, he started a program where senior students who maintain a grade of 85% or higher for both years of the program and have 95% or better attendance for two years are eligible to work out of tool carts that the program purchases with funds from customer work donations. At the end of the year, students who meet the criteria get to keep their tool carts, giving them a starter tool set for when they enter the industry. These incentives have led to an improvement in grades and attendance and gives students a sense of ownership and pride in their work.

Buehler’s students have the opportunity to earn scholarships to Sinclair Community College, and can earn college credit for work in his classes at both Sinclair and University of Northwestern Ohio through articulation agreements. Many of his graduates have pursued fulfilling careers in the automotive industry, with former students working at local Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler dealerships, as well as independent shops. In 2021, 91% of his graduating students were employed, with 52% of them working in the automotive industry. Additionally, 17% of his students pursued higher education after graduating high school, a testament to the broad range of opportunities his program opens up for them. Buehler’s alumni often visit his program to share their experiences and success stories.

“As an automotive technology teacher, there are two things that bring me joy and satisfaction in my career. First, it’s seeing my students’ genuine interest in cars and the technology in them. Having grown up surrounded by all things car-related myself, I find it rewarding to witness this same passion in my students. It’s what makes waking up and going to work each day worth it. Second, it’s seeing and hearing from former students and how they are doing in their careers. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that I have played a role in their success, and I have maintained connections with many of them over the years.”