RELEASE: “Because I’m a Tech…” 2021 shares technicians’ stories of successful and secure careers

TechForce Foundation® Shares Technician Stories and Career Guide
to Correct Misperceptions of Transportation Tech Careers

New resources now available on the only social network
dedicated to aspiring and working transportation techs

August 26, 2021 – SCOTTSDALE, AZ — TechForce Foundation®, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has launched its national “Because I’m a Tech…” campaign featuring a diverse group of technicians sharing their stories of successful and secure careers. TechForce celebrates the campaign with the release of its updated Ultimate Guide to Transportation Technician

Transportation technology is critical to the American economy, and the demand for technicians is surging. Yet, many students planning their futures and individuals considering career changes don’t realize the opportunities and the potential for success as transportation techs. Often underestimated as “blue collar,” or “grease monkey” jobs, today’s
technicians are actually high-tech “new collar” workers who depend on their computer skills and fluency with the latest technology.

“A modern car runs on approximately 100 million lines of computer code, more than twice that of the NASA space shuttle,” says Jennifer Maher, CEO & Executive Director for TechForce Foundation. “Now, with electric vehicles set to become more common than ever before, the list of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills transportation techs need continues to grow. These are skilled, well-paying, technical jobs that literally keep America rolling.”

To correct this misperception TechForce and its industry partners are sharing stories and resources to showcase accurate representations of technician careers. TechForce invites techs to join in by posting on social media and completing the phrase “Because I’m Tech…” with the accomplishments, lifestyle and other things they enjoy thanks to their technician career.

TechForce has also created the first and only social network designed and gamified for tech students and professional technicians to connect with each other, schools, industry and employers ( The social network features the Ultimate Guide to Transportation Tech Careers and other resources, opportunities for career exploration, scholarships, free technical training and events. The online platform also connects schools with industry resources.

The TechForce
social network is evolving and growing every day, with thousands of students, instructors and working techs using this innovative resource. TechForce was able to launch the gamified site in the midst of COVID to meet the rising demand for virtual training and social connectivity. The transportation community is both supporting it with content and using it to learn, connect, find scholarships and events, and explore job opportunities while competing for prizes and leaderboard status.

For additional information about secure, successful careers in transportation technology, visit

About TechForce Foundation

TechForce Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) with the mission to champion all students to and through their technical education and into careers as professional technicians. The Foundation distributes more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants annually, thanks to its generous corporate sponsors and donors, and spearheads an industry-wide workforce development initiative to help encourage and support more young people to pursue the vehicle technician profession. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook, InstagramTwitter and Linkedin.



Women Techs Rock: How college grad Hannah Lutrey found her purpose in the world of forklifts

This technician spotlight is published as part of TechForce Foundation’s diversity initiatives. Help us find other women technicians to highlight in Women Techs Rock. Get started at


Women Techs Rock Highlight

Name: Hannah Lutrey
Employer: Doosan Industrial Vehicle America Corporation
Age: 33
Location: Duluth, Georgia
School: Gwinnett Technical College; Randolph College


Technician Hannah Lutrey pictured next her quote, "Just keep going. Deep breath. It's very rewarding."

Who is Hannah Lutrey?

Hannah Lutrey always considered herself a gearhead – a fan of cars and motorcycles, with an interest in how things work – but she never imagined that she’d find herself working in the world of forklifts.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and aiming for a career of helping others, like many of us, Hannah found that life has a funny way of steering toward another direction. She found herself working as a warranty administrator for PAI Industries in Suwanee, Georgia. She was – as she says – “thrown into the deep end,” working as part of the failure analysis process, writing denial reports, and working with suppliers to make product improvements based on claim discoveries. However, she soon grew tired of not fully understanding what techs were talking about.

The solution? Gwinnett Technical College and the Heavy Duty Diesel Service Technician Certification Program. With an employer that allowed her time to go to school and an instructor who was hugely supportive (they’re still in touch), she was not only the first woman to apply for the program, but also the first to graduate with a 4.0 GPA. And, she’s proud to say, without any student debt.

Looking to expand her career beyond what PAI could offer, she was introduced to Doosan Industrial Vehicle America Corporation at a career fair and was hired as a Product Support Representative – the first woman to hold a tech position there. Now, she helps technicians troubleshoot problems in the field, provides support to regional representatives, and assists with warranty parts returns and analysis. While she looks forward to working more closely with dealers in a regional position, she loves her job, thanks to the supportive people she gets to work with. And yes, because she’s a specialist in the installation for specific forklift parts, she still gets to pick up a wrench now and again.


Q & A:

Do people give you a hard time because you’re a woman? 

“Once, a man called for tech support and wouldn’t speak to me. I don’t dwell on it though. I won’t let a fool affect what I do.”


What would you tell other women considering this profession?

“It’s very rewarding, but you have to really love it to make it. Is Doosan ready for more women techs? Yes! We hear that Cummins engines wants more women on staff because they’re more detail-oriented.”


What mantra do you use when things get challenging?

“Just keep going. Deep breath. You can’t change stupid.”


What is your dream form of transportation?

“A 1930 round-body pickup with a wood bed, a Cummins small-block engine, and Allison automatic transmission. Or a split-windshield Studebaker pickup. Or a 6-speed Mini Clubman.”



Under The Hood | August 2021


Because I’m a Tech | Driven to Care scholarship recipients at Road America | Show us your tattoo contest | Technician Careers | Women Techs Rock | Join TechForce for free training

Stand up for tech careers with your “Because I’m a Tech…” story

The-Humble-Mechanic---Thumbnail_210819Calling all techs! Don’t sit on the sidelines – tell all who need to hear it what can be achieved with a transportation technician career. Check out this video from The Humble Mechanic for inspiration, and join the conversation by telling the world what you’ve accomplished “Because I’m a Tech…”⁠ Share your story on social media with #BecauseImaTech


Last chance: Vote for TechForce in MOTOR’s Top 20 Awards

Screen Shot 2021-03-23 at 1-56-39 PM-2Voting closes today in MOTOR’s Top 20 Awards! TechForce’s social network has been nominated as one of the most innovative and exciting new things in the automotive industry, and we need your help to win this year’s award. Vote for to recognize the only one-stop-shop built exclusively for future and working techs. Vote now>>


Celebrating Driven to Care scholarship recipients at Road America

20210717_All Smiles 112225-2Lisa Weinberger and TechForce recently hosted local students, including Accelerate Tuition/John Weinberger “Driven to Care” scholarship recipients, at Road America in Wisconsin. Students had the opportunity to meet racing legends, watch vintage racecars in action pit-side, and get behind-the-scenes with pit crews.

More student race-day events are being planned for other locations. College-level students can apply for Accelerate Tuition scholarships through TechForce’s social network>>

Discover your future in our Ultimate Guide to Technician Careers

The demand for transportation techs is surging. Yet, many people don’t realize the opportunity and potential for success in transportation technology and repair. Discover your “new collar” STEM career, including job types, skills needed and average salary. Download our free Ultimate Guide to Tech Careers at

Something fun… Enter our “Show us your ink” contest

Show us your ink! We want to know your story and who you are through your tattoos. Enter for a chance to win a “When Techs Rock, America Rolls®” T-shirt and 5,000 points. Contests are just one fun part of the only social network built for aspiring and working techs. Learn more about our current contests at>>

Help TechForce inspire the next generation of women techs

WTR_TFN_Bethaney-Bowman-Engine-Block_100T_1600X900_210714Only 2.5% of technicians are women. It is time to celebrate them, learn from them and work together to raise the percentage! Help us share stories from women techs who rock and inspire the next generation. Tell us who we should recognize at

Join TechForce for free training from our partners

Partner training_TechForce peer networkCan you easily explain how an electrical system works? Are you up to date on hybrid engines? Do you know how automated vehicles stay on the road? Stay up to date on advancing vehicle technology with free training from Advance Auto Parts, Cengage, Shell, WD-40, GM and other TechForce partners! Simply join TechForce’s social network to get started>>

Thank you to all TechForce Foundation partners!

TFF-ALL-Partners-Logo-Lockup-210521-2Associations: Automotive Communications Council, Automotive Maintenance & Repair Association (AMRA), American Rental Association (ARA), Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Automotive Service Association (ASA), Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), ASE Education Foundation, ASE Training Managers Council (ATMC), Auto Care Association/Women in Auto Care, Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT), Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement (CADIA), Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF), Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR), Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA), Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence, National Association of Automobile Clubs of Canada (NAACC), National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), National Center for Autonomous Technology (NCAT), SkillsUSA, STEAM Sports Foundation and American Trucking Association’s Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC)

Celebrities: Charles Sanville (The Humble Mechanic), Lyn St. James (IndyCar), Bogi Lateiner (Girl Gang Garage), Steve Johnson (Steve Johnson Racing – NHRA) and Julia Landauer (Julia Landauer Racing – NASCAR)

For more news on TechForce Foundation, follow us on social media at the links below!


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Women Techs Rock: How Kimberly turned her military training into a civilian career as a diesel tech

This technician spotlight is published as part of TechForce Foundation’s diversity initiatives. Help us find other women technicians to highlight in Women Techs Rock. Get started at


Technician Kimberly Lakner standing next to a diesel truck, with the quote "Do what you're passionate about and don't let anyone stop you."Women Techs Rock Highlight

Name: Kimberly Lakner
Employer: Walmart, Shop Service Manager
Location: Florida
School: Marine Corps


Who is Kimberly Lakner?

Kimberly is the shop manager at a Florida-based Walmart Distribution Facility. She started at Walmart 27 years ago as a truck fueler and washer then moved into a technician role and eventually into management. She started her career in the Marine Corps where she received her diesel training.

She likes working for Walmart and moved around when the opportunity was made available. She has been in management since 2002. Her role allows her to occasionally go into the shop to wrench, she enjoys doing diagnostics and research on equipment to help solve issues.

She misses wrenching full time because it allowed her to do something of a solo nature in management, she manages the full workload of the shop. When she was in the Marine Corps, she was accepted as a female in the diesel area. Where she was tasked with a job, and she did the job.

When she left the Marine Corps, she immediately felt the difference in that she had to always work harder to prove herself. Once she built a reputation as a technician who did good work,
she then was getting requested by drivers specifically.

In general, Kimberly believes that as a manager it is her job to identify where help is needed and provide the assistance to make the technician’s job easier for them to understand.


Q & A:

Was there an incident that stuck out in your memory that was a turning point for you in your thinking of yourself as a professional tech?

YES! She asked a supervisor for help with an electronic wiring harness problem. He came over to help but ended up taking over. I had to stand up for myself and say, “Hey I don’t want you to do my job, I want you to teach me how to do my job better’. If I hadn’t stood up, I would have become that tech that men would view as “see, women can’t do it”. That supervisor treated me very differently after that encounter. Not only did I gain his respect, but I proved myself and he then trusted me without question going forward. We still stay in touch, and I still remember that interaction as a defining moment.


What mantra do you use when things get challenging? What would you tell your younger you?

Do what you’re passionate about and don’t let anyone stop you.


Is the stigma of a women technician going away?

No but it is changing. As things evolve to EV and Hybrid it becomes less and less about the grease monkey stigma and more and more about computers and electronics. That changes the stigma. Moving from grease monkey into true technician and maybe into engineer.


What should be done to get more women into the profession?

Start them young and teach women to raise one another up. Women must change from within and share ownership and pride with other women. Start in schools on teaching acceptance and understanding what that really means. It’s ok to partner with others to help you as long as women are standing up for themselves.


What is your dream form of transportation?

Her fun toy is a motorcycle.  Kimberly won’t wrench on any of her own vehicles.




Women Techs Rock: Working on a private collection of vintage cars

This technician spotlight is published as part of TechForce Foundation’s diversity initiatives. Help us find other women technicians to highlight in Women Techs Rock. Get started at


Riley Mahl working on an engine, next to her quote "Don't give up, I face obstacles but find my path forward."

Women Techs Rock Highlight

Name: Riley Mahl
Employer: Private Collection
Age: 22
Location: Coopersburg, PA
School: Pennsylvania College of Technology


Who is Riley Mahl?

Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In Riley Mahl’s case, the daughter doesn’t stray far from the father. Understandable when her stay-at-home, chemical engineer dad was the editor for a Studebaker club newspaper and was willing to allow Riley’s mother to name their daughter–in exchange for permission to buy a classic Packard, that is. Riley literally grew up alongside the vintage Packard, leaving a significant imprint as she watched her dad work on it her entire childhood.

In high school, Riley served her community as a volunteer firefighter and water rescuer. Already possessing several practical skills, Riley was naturally skeptical of the merits of a college education, despite her father’s suggestions. They compromised, and Riley attended the technical high school where her father was an automotive instructor to prepare herself to join the workforce. Not wanting to be caught in her father’s shadow, Riley elected to take machining courses for two years instead.

With her firefighting and rescue experience, Riley originally planned on becoming a paramedic, attending classes at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. However, after taking some anatomy classes she found that her passions and ambitions lie elsewhere. Riley was reminded of the auto restoration student who gave her a campus tour and was intrigued. She instantly fell in love with the program, being surrounded by classic cars in class, and learning about automotive history and painting. She even loved that old car smell. Riley finally had an avenue to express her newfound natural ability to troubleshoot and fix things.

Riley was introduced to the curator of a local private car collection through the program, and was even interviewed for a summer internship. When the interviewer saw “Riley” on the application, he wasn’t expecting a young woman, but quickly moved past the initial shock, offering her the position. Over the summer, Riley learned a great deal about vintage automobiles and was taught to work with a high attention to detail, giving her the edge over her peers. Riley became a standout student as a very skilled pupil and the only woman in the program. While there was often headbutting with her male classmates, Riley was able to work past these differences and earn the respect she deserved from the very beginning.

In her own words, “for every great man in automobiles, there was a woman behind him.”


Q & A:

What would you tell your 16-year-old self about standing up for yourself?

“Don’t back down on your opinion. Don’t back down on your values. Learn to deal with the boys’ club mentality. When I started showing them up, the men made life harder, so you must find a way to balance doing your best and managing the male and female rivalry. Think about why the men might be giving you a hard time. Most of the time it’s because they are jealous of your abilities!”


What mantra do you use when things get challenging?

“Don’t give up. I face obstacles but find my path forward. If I struggle, I look for a solution, and if I can’t find one it is okay to ask for help. We [women] may be more physically challenged, so sometimes you have to ask for help. If you fall off the horse, dust yourself off and keep going. There is no such thing as a stupid question.”


What is your dream form of transportation?

“Ride a horse everywhere! It’s just a different kind of horsepower.”

Riley also dreams of inheriting her father’s 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood, which belonged to her grandfather.



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"By connecting students, instructors, industry pros and working techs, the TechForce Foundation provides unilateral support to the transportation industry’s technician recruiting needs… The administration of our Scholarships by the TechForce team has been instrumental in delivering us with a successful method to gain interest from qualified candidates as well as provide our students with additional assistance to complete their education."
Tony Farr
Ford Technical Programs Manager