Meet Carmelo Robles, a Toyota Master Diagnostic Technician who’s also an instructor in the new Toyota T-TEN program at the Career and Advanced Technology Center. Robles, a T-TEN alum himself, discusses the unique program, which allows students to make money working for the largest car manufacturer in the world while completing their associate degree.
1.) What is the Toyota T-TEN program? How is it unique, and how will it prepare students?
T-TEN stands for Technician Training and Education Network. The program provides state-of-the-art, hands-on automotive diagnosis and repair training with an emphasis on skills needed to succeed in the automotive industry specializing in the Toyota and Lexus brands. It places our students at Toyota and Lexus dealerships while attending school, further reinforcing their hands-on experiences taught in class.
2.) You’re an alum of the Toyota T-TEN program. How has it helped shape your career?
The T-TEN program helped springboard my automotive technician career by graduating with several industry standards and Toyota certifications that allowed me to command an above-average pay rate shortly after graduation. It also laid a solid theoretical foundation for automotive systems, especially in electrical and electronics circuit diagnosis, which paved the way for my success up the ranks of Toyota certification-level Master Diagnostic Technician and multiple promotions from line technician to group leader and then eventually to shop foreman.
3.) You’re also a resident of West Philadelphia. What do you think this program, and the Career and Advanced Technology Center (CATC), more broadly, will bring to this neighborhood and this region?
It will shine a much-needed light on the trades that are in very high demand. The structure alone signals to the community that the city is vested in West Philadelphia and the surrounding neighborhoods. Hopefully, it will promote a sense of pride in the neighborhood and continue the clean-up efforts in the area that I have witnessed in the past 15 years or so. West Philadelphia certainly looks much different now than when I started working in the area back in 2001.
4.) Can you talk a little about the evolution in technology you’ve seen in the auto industry throughout your career? What kinds of equipment will students in this program get to use?
When I first started in the industry, vehicle onboard diagnostics were primarily performed by one onboard computer, mainly for engine performance. We saw vehicles equipped with additional systems like anti-lock brakes, airbags, etc., which required their own electronic control units (ECU) and the use of different equipment to diagnose. They were on their own network and were not able to communicate with each other. Making a diagnosis of overlapping technology and concerns was very difficult. Nowadays vehicles are basically mobile internet, with computers or ECU in just about every system and component you can think of. It’s very common for vehicles to be fitted with over 30 onboard computers, and they all can communicate via different networks. The equipment that is now required, and students will be trained on to properly diagnose and repair vehicles, consists of highly advanced diagnostic software, laptops, multimeters, and digital oscilloscopes capable of reading, displaying a high volume of data, and capturing electrical and electronic signals.
5.) What do you hope students get out of the program?
I want the students to learn a skill set that will provide them and their families with a good quality of life and be the best automotive technician possible. The program goal is to translate real-world scenarios and diagnostic procedures to the student that will help them achieve success in the automotive industry overall, not just as Toyota/Lexus technicians only.