By Carissa Gingras
Engines aren’t the newest smartphone. They’re not going to generate the kind of buzz that a new tablet or connected watch will. But that’s not to say that innovation in the engine category isn’t catching the attention of a new generation of engine enthusiasts — a generation typically associated more with gaming and social media than with small engines.
Sometimes, these individuals become engine enthusiasts or have entered the profession because of a family tradition that’s been passed on. Other times, it’s because of curiosity. The latter was the case last fall for Nolan Bunting, a 17-year-old high school student from Homer, Alaska.
During his junior year at Homer High School, with no previous engine experience, Bunting decided to enroll in a small-engine course, so he could learn the basics of taking care of a car that he recently purchased. Naturally, the course taught the essential elements of automotive maintenance. But, it also provided Bunting his first hands-on experience with an actual engine, which happened to be a Briggs & Stratton overhead valve engine. Not only did he get the opportunity to tear it apart, study the internal components, and figure out how each component helps the engine to run smoothly, but he also got to rebuild it and make sure it ran properly again.
Cameron Wyatt, the instructor of the course, said he likes to teach his students through hands-on experience so they can see what he’s talking about and provide an opportunity to tinker with parts and figure out how something works.
Bunting was so excited with what he learned in class that, with the encouragement of Wyatt, he began taking all of the online Briggs & Stratton Master Service Technician (MST) certification tests.
“Nolan is a very determined kid who takes responsibility for his learning, and when he sets his mind to something, he won’t stop until he accomplishes it,” said Wyatt.
Bunting passed all of the coursework and exams to become the only individual from his school district to have ever achieved an MST certification — and only one of four in the state of Alaska.
“I wanted to see how much I could learn and how far I could get,” said Bunting. “The certification provides an opportunity for me to sell myself because I can go to any service provider with an MST certification.”
The MST status is the highest level that a technician can achieve with Briggs & Stratton and is offered at technical colleges and online. It is earned by passing five separate exams within a one-year period of time with a score of 75 percent or higher. Each exam has approximately 50 questions focused on Theory and General Knowledge, Diagnostics, Failure Analysis & Warranty, Repowering and Products. What’s even more impressive is once Nolan passed his final MST exam, he chose to keep going and complete the Authorized Dealer Competency Exam.
It’s stories like those of Bunting that validate the education and training programs that Briggs & Stratton has established through partnerships with Murray State, Callaway County Technical School and Auburn University. These programs:
* Provide practical hands-on experience for students
* Supply engines to schools
* Help school directors develop curriculum
* Help with technical training
* Hire students and interns
“As the world’s leading manufacturer of gas-powered small engines for outdoor power equipment, we at Briggs & Stratton feel a responsibility for fostering and enabling an enthusiasm for engines among the younger generations,” said John Piechowski, director of customer education and dealer business at Briggs & Stratton Corporation. “We love that the training programs and resources we offer can inspire the next generation of engine enthusiasts and innovators to tackle problems and improve everyday lives. The story also confirms that the same enthusiasm our founders had for engines and innovation continues to live on through inquiring minds like Nolan, our consumers, our fans, and our employees of the past, present and future.”
What is Bunting up to these days? He’s currently passing on his new-found passion and knowledge by helping a fellow student study for the MST exams.
As for what the future holds for Bunting, he has options. With an interest in biology and wildlife management, Bunting said his MST knowledge can be used to work on engines that run the pumps and water systems.
“I love working with Briggs & Stratton engines because the engines are present in many different countries across the world,” Bunting said. “So knowing that, as a certified MST, I have more options. And Briggs & Stratton has such a great reputation for having good products.
Carissa Gingras is marketing director of consumer engine and service at Briggs & Stratton Corporation. In her current role, she focuses on developing communications for dealers and consumers in the outdoor power equipment industry. She has more than 20 years of marketing experience working with both national and global companies, including General Electric, Honeywell, Ashley Furniture Homestores, Bridgestone/Firestone and Bon-Ton Department Stores.