Grease monkey. Motorhead. The slang we use for vehicle technicians depicts the job as a down and dirty trade rather than a highly-skilled craft. Roadtrip Nation’s new one-hour special, Changing Gears, dispels long-held perceptions of technician work, opening up the hood on a rapidly accelerating industry that’s driven by advanced training, specialized skills, and mastery of today’s most cutting-edge technology.
A look at technician work through the eyes of three young aspiring technicians—and established professionals whom they seek out for advice—Changing Gears takes viewers on a tour through a field that’s growing fast, but needs more workers. As the Bureau of Labor reports, demand for technicians is the highest it’s ever been, but with scarce numbers of young adults enrolling in technical training programs, a shortage of technicians in the near future is almost guaranteed.
With the future of the industry in question, Changing Gear’s young cast sets off to interview successful technicians in every corner of the industry—from Dennis McCarthy, the lead technician for the Fast and the Furious series, to Bogi Latiener, whose female-centric garage is challenging the gender expectations surrounding automotive work. It’s a supercharged adventure through land and sea as the road-trippers get behind the wheel of everything from exotic supercars to giant tractors, discovering a wide array of technician careers that go far beyond wrench-turning.
As they travel from custom truck shops to high-tech labs that render car parts with 3D printers, the team quickly learns that the industry is no longer just about hard labor; it’s now built on complex computer systems. The idea of a 16-year-old fixing a car on a driveway isn’t as feasible in this day and age. But that doesn’t mean technicians have lost sight of the field’s founding traditions and principles. Whether they’re modding cars to make them drift machines, or rebuilding old-school muscle cars, every technician toes the line between embracing the new and upholding the past.