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I2 student passes all 10 certification tests

April 21, 2021 by Abbie Sossomon | Gaffney Ledger | 2021news

I2 student Michael Burke working on car
Michael Burke removes a motor from a vintage Ford truck while working in an automotive class at the Institute of Innovation.

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Michael Burke is setting the bar high for future automotive students at the Institute of Innovation.

Burke recently became the first local student to pass all 10 entry-level certification tests offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The computer tests are designed to indicate a satisfactory level of practical work knowledge and are a nationally recognized credential for candidates seeking a career in the automotive service industry.

Automotive technology students enrolled at the high school career center typically only take ASE tests in light maintenance repair and brakes. People who hold ASE certification receive a special credential which can be presented to automotive employers when applying for jobs.

“This is a huge accomplishment for a high school student to pass all 10 ASE certification tests,” said Institute of Innovation automotive instructor Tony Smith, who recently renewed his 5-year ASE certification. “Michael is an outstanding student. He is a hard worker with a great work ethic.”

Burke, 17, was recently sponsored by Vic Bailey Ford dealership to participate in Ford’s Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) program this fall. Students in the program must be sponsored by an auto dealership.

High school students alternate between classes at Spartanburg Community College and gaining hands-on experience at a Ford dealership over a 2-year period.

Burke is on track to became a rare completer in two certificate programs at Institute of Innovation. He has completed the automotive technology program and will complete auto collision this spring.

Burke has always enjoyed mechanical work. He works on lawnmower engines in a part-time job outside school at Cherokee Small Engine and often helps his father work on vehicles at home.

“My dad is a diesel mechanic. I’ve been working with him for as long as I can remember,” Burke said. “When I went on a field trip to Vic Bailey, I had an opportunity to speak with a diesel mechanic about the different job opportunities available in the automotive field. I got interested in the Ford Asset program. I thought it would be a great way to increase my knowledge and work experience while still in school.”

Burke, a Gaffney High student, is scheduled to graduate high school in 2022.

He will start working full-time at Vic Bailey Ford Dealership this summer before he moves into the Ford ASSET program.

While taking the ASE tests, Burke wasn’t ready to stop after he passed the two required ASE certification classes. He saw the computerized tests as an opportunity to test his own skills and knowledge as he prepares for a future career.

“I felt like I had the knowledge to pass the 10 ASE tests just from my experience working with my dad and what I’ve learned from my automotive instructor Tony Smith and job at Cherokee Small Engine,” Burke said. “I’m very glad I will be able to go to school and start my career as a diesel mechanic.”