Albert Paquette, an apprentice mechanic at Technical Automotives in Morinville works on a car in the shop. The young mechanic is heading to Skills Alberta to compete in the automotive category May 14-15 and is hoping to move on to the national competition in Toronto this June.
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A local mechanic, Morinville resident and NAIT student is getting ready to compete in the provincial leg of the annual Skills Canada competition. Albert Paquette, who is currently apprenticing to be an auto service technician at Technical Automotives in Morinville’s industrial park, will compete in his field at Skills Alberta May 14 and 15 in Edmonton.
The 20-year-old attended Camilla School and Sturgeon Composite High School ahead of pursuing a career in the automotive field. His interest in the trade started when he was in junior high school, but became hands-on at Sturgeon Composite. “I took classes for it – Mechanics 10, 20 and 30,” he said, adding he has never done anything but auto mechanics in terms of a job. “I started at Mr. Lube and then Ron Hodgson’s [Chevrolet], and then here [at Technical Automotives].
In his second year at NAIT, it is work he continues to love. “It’s been a lot of fun, getting lots of training and good stuff here at Technical [Automotives],” he said, adding he was not aware of the annual Skills competition until this year. “I found out that my teachers from first year had nominated me to go. I hadn’t really heard much about it, so I did a little research about it. It sounds like it should be a fun little thing to do. It should be quite the experience. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Heading to Skills
Paquette said he is only a little worried about the competition aspect, but feels he will do fine because of his desire to work in the field. “It’s what I want to do so it comes natural, I guess,” he said, adding he is preparing for Skills both through his work at Technical Automotives and studying the event itself. “I’ve done a lot of reading up on it and seeing what I’m supposed to know and what they’re going to tell me I have to do.”
If Paquette is successful at the Skills Alberta competition in May, he will move on to Skills Canada, taking place in Toronto June 4 to 7. Though winning provincially or nationally will not elevate him in his profession, it is a feather in his cap that he would like to achieve.
Though hopeful to move on in the competition and grateful for any knowledge and experience he can obtain at Skills, he is also grateful for the opportunity to apprentice at Technical Automotives in Morinville. “It’s a blast to get up and actually say you want to go to work,” he said of his work there. “There’s never a dull moment.”
The apprentice mechanic’s boss at Technical Automotives, Marty Robillard, is also grateful for the opportunity to bring another mechanic into his business and pleased Paquette is heading to the Skills competition. “He is very reliable [and] hardworking,” Robillard said. “I was lucky that the last place he was at didn’t feel he was qualified to be signed up as an apprentice or [see] the diamond in the rough that he was. He’s definitely been an asset to Technical Automotives. With all the people in the trade, for him to be invited to it [Skills] is definitely a good thing for Albert.”
Robillard said Paquette is becoming more and more independent at the shop and is quickly becoming a bit of a specialist. “I’m pushing him towards the electrical quite a bit,” Robillard said. “There’s so much electrical on a vehicle nowadays.
Transmissions are controlled by electronics. Some of the vehicles have upwards of four or five different processors just running the vehicle. With electronic cars coming along, you end up being more of an electronics technician than an actual mechanic.”
Under the hood appeal
Whether working on the intricate electronics of a new car or changing oil on a more seasoned vehicle, the automotive appeal for Paquette is a simple one – he just likes working on cars.
In his spare time Paquette plays a bit of hockey and enjoys other sports, but it always seems to come back to a love of things with wheels. “I like to tinker on old cars,” he said. “I’ve got a project on the go. I’ve got a ‘77 Camero that I’m working on. It’s a complete rebuild. Right now it’s down to the frame and there’s nothing in it. I’m just going to start the build portion of it.”
Skills Alberta takes place May 14-15 – Edmonton EXPO Centre, Northlands