Academic Excellence Award

Academic Excellence Winner — Daniel Ortez, Toyota’s Technician Training & Education Network

Because it is a manufacturer-specific program, Dunwoody’s TTEN (Toyota’s Technician Training & Education Network) degree tends to attract passionate, focused students. Daniel Ortez is no exception–so much so that he was selected to be the Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Automotive Department.

Ortez’s path to Dunwoody was straightforward. He’s always had a knack for hands-on work so while attending St. Paul’s Central Senior High School, he decided to take automotive classes with instructor Matt Lijewski.

“Matt’s program helped me learn about cars and repairs from the ground up, and really helped me discover where my passion lies, and I would not be where I am at today without him,” Ortez said.

From there, the decision to enroll at Dunwoody was obvious.

“I chose Dunwoody for the fact that the reputation stands for itself,” Ortez said. “If you’re in pursuit of better education, and you excel with your hands on skills, it is almost a no-brainer with the resources they have on hand.”

Toyota in-depth

Ortez chose the TTEN program because he’s passionate about Toyota’s vehicles, including their reputation for quality, and wanted to focus on studying them.

“In the TTEN program we dive deeper into components and how they work/why they fail as opposed to learning just how to replace a failed part,” he said.

Ortez particularly enjoyed a unit covering the overhaul of manual transmission and differentials. It was something he hadn’t been at all familiar with previously.

That passion came through in his dedication to his school work, and he impressed the Automotive faculty from his first semester. He emerged as a leader in the classroom and brought a detail oriented, professional, inquisitive attitude to his work.

“With his knowledge and respect of his peers he, on several occasions, brought to my attention other students needs and concerns so that I could better serve them,” said Jason Emrick, Senior Instructor, Automotive Service Technology. “He made my job easier and helped improve all of his peers.”

A Toyota-filled future

“The most valuable lesson I have taken away from Dunwoody is that you always have to be hungry to learn more,” Ortez said. “Wanting to keep learning will advance your knowledge and skills and will help you more than anything.”

It’s good that Ortez has that attitude because his journey with Toyota isn’t yet complete.

“Upon graduating I will be training under a Master Diagnostic Technician, which is the highest [Toyota] certification you can get, so having the opportunity to soak in the knowledge of someone who’s been around the block is what I look forward to most,” he said.

A Master Diagnostic Technician certification is Ortez’s eventual goal, and he looks forward to continuing to build his knowledge of Toyota’s vehicles.

He also hopes to eventually save up and open his own service shop, especially as it will give him the opportunity to provide repairs for his family, friends, and members of his community.

For the immediate future his focus is all work — and traveling on vacations. Or as he says, “work hard, play harder!”