Faculty Q&A with Maintenance Technician Instructor Joshua Title
Teaching the Maintenance Technician program was not a career direction Joshua Title had ever considered. But his past work, education, and training experiences in that industry set those wheels into motion and made him an able and inspiring guide for future Maintenance Technicians.
Josh knew firsthand the career direction scramble – and the Big Question: What would I be good at? He had crammed a lot of work and life experience into his twenties that led him to pursue a career in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. He got his HVAC-R education at SJVC.
A teaching opportunity for the Maintenance Technician (MT) program at SJVC’s Visalia campus came his way. It was an unexpected redirection of his career plans. He would lead and support those who had found their own career focus. Same ride, different animal. But he knew the road.
Why move from your chosen career field into the classroom?
I initially wanted to be a high school teacher but after shadowing a teacher in public school, I saw class sizes too large, lots of confusion; it (public schools) wouldn’t be for me. And, I’d had a couple of teachers that didn’t have that fire.
But I enjoy sharing what I know with others and working with my hands. Being an instructor in the Maintenance Technician program allows me to do those two things.
What do you want your Maintenance Technician students to know from Day One?
This program is different from anything in high school. In high school you just want to make sure you get that diploma. Here, you want to make sure you learn because the job you get will expect you to know what you’re doing. A hard worker; that’s what people in the trades are looking for. Someone who puts all their effort into their task at hand.
And, they need to know that they will be much more valuable to whomever they’re working for if they are familiar with all the tools and equipment they will be using. Very familiar.
What is one of your MT classroom ‘highlights’?
One of my students got a job and walked into class with a big smile on his face. He shared his interview experience with the class, and I encouraged them to pay close attention. He said his interviewer asked a lot of questions about things he had just learned in class. Paying attention is important; for technical jobs, employers may quiz an applicant to judge their knowledge.
Describe a classroom exercise that is important in the field?
I time classroom trouble-shooting task simulations. I give students 15-minutes to solve it because out in the field that’s how long you have before you have to call in backup. Production facilities can’t afford to have their equipment down for long, so they bring in bigger guns after 15-minutes.
Also, I find students learn better from struggling than when the answer is given to them immediately. I give them the chance to figure it out for themselves before jumping in. The process is important.
What do you enjoy most in the classroom?
Seeing that moment of comprehension; their eyes are no longer glazed over. Something finally clicked and made sense to them, and I watch them put a theory they have learned into practice. They become more attentive because they understand.
I like coming up with hands-on activities in the classroom. It cements a concept better for students if it’s something they can put their hands on instead of reading in a book. They love doing assignments I’ve created rather than getting it from bookwork. I’m not just sitting at my desk; I’m right there with them.
And they’ve told me they see the effort I’ve put in and can tell I care a lot about being a teacher.
What fulfills you in your role as a Maintenance Technician program instructor?
I like teaching in a ‘trade’ program where I have the opportunity to use my hands. I’m always looking for new resources to use in the classroom. We need to stay current with the latest trends in the industry.
Where does your inspiration to teach come from?
I was in their position at one point; having a full day with work and family, trying to get that balance between work and school. Maybe they don’t like their job or are having problems at home. I want them to feel like class is somewhere they can come to get information to change their situation; a place to go that is enjoyable and where they can just be themselves.
What is most exciting to your MT students?
We have a course called Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) – the brain behind industrial equipment. Most companies have to work with extremely complicated controls, but with PLC fewer controls are needed. Industry is moving in that direction and the majority already have a lot of their equipment being run by PLCs. High tech automation is the way everything is moving and that technology changes very quickly.
Employers will come to SJVC and let us know what they want to see in our MT graduates. Most of them say that it’s a growing requirement that their Maintenance Tech new-hires will have to have PLC training. Our students get 10-weeks of PLC training. Our graduates are ready for this growing industry requirement.
What drives you to give students your best?
I hope to give them the tools they need to succeed in their career. That’s what I want for all of them. And I can always improve on that. We are always looking ahead to give our students the best opportunities out there.
I try to be the mentor I wish I’d had.
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