Skilled to Work: Savannah Tech’s Gold Medal Training

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:14 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As manufacturers in the automotive industry continue to announce new plants in the Coastal Empire, the future workforce is getting ready - and trying to keep up.

“Anything in the car that moves or talks or sparks I like to deal with.”

Erin Smith is an automotive technology student at Savannah Tech.

He’s also the Georgia Gold Medalist for mobile electronics installation at the state skills competition earlier this month.

“I had to wire up a couple of radios. I had to essentially put an amp and stereo system in a car, and put power locks into a car that didn’t have power locks originally. A whole a lot of soldering and dealing with wires,” Erin Smith said.

If it sounds like it’s old hat to Smith... it is.

A 21-veteran of the U-S Army, Smith took his knowledge working on aircraft and transitioned to something more accessible in civilian life.

“I specialize in mobile electronics, which is car stereos, videos, adding in what they call retromods, adding in AC into older cars, adding in power locks, power windows and older cars. That’s just been something I’ve been doing because I’ve been around the industry for so long.”

But it’s a rapidly changing industry and Smith knows it.

“Every make, model, manufacturer always has a different way of doing something.”

“As we’re emerging into more and more electronics on the vehicle, we have upwards of 80 and 90 computers on different vehicles. You can literally destroy a computer or two or three. It could be a $2,000 or $3,000 repair just for disconnecting the battery without the proper process,” Anthony Hobbs said.

Anthony Hobbs heads the Automotive Department at Savannah Tech, and says it’s a race to keep up.

“They’re showing up here 15 weeks, four hours a day, four days a week and we barely can get everything we need to in with that to keep up with everything that’s emerging through it.”

For now, Smith is preparing for nationals and a legacy to uphold.

Hobbs says Savannah Tech has won gold in mobile electronics six of the last ten years.

“If he don’t come back with gold he doesn’t get to come back. He has to walk back.”

If he is left stranded, at least Smith may have the skills to get back home.