An OCCC automotive technology major placed second in the nation in June at the annual Skills USA competition at Bartle Hall Convention Center in Kansas City, MO.
Daniel Murphy, 18, of Oklahoma City and a graduate of Francis Tuttle Technology Center, won the silver medal at the national level in the Automotive Service Technology category at Skills USA during the week of June 21.
At the time Murphy was still in high school but was earning college credits through OCCC’s cooperative agreement with the technology center.
A panel of judges graded the competitors on topics ranging from engine performance to the work environment, including health and safety, to show possible employers their skills and knowledge.
“It was definitely difficult,” Murphy said.
“It was basically a full day of doing job skills that you wind up having to do in automotive service.”
Murphy had to place either first or second in the regional ranks and win first at the state level just to get the opportunity to compete on the national stage.
He said he spent most of two years preparing for the event.
“I heard of competing regionally so I just told the instructors, ‘Hey, you know I’d like to do that.’
“I think I got second in regional the first year,” Murphy said.
“After that I went on and got second in state. So that first year I was already preparing.”
By the end of his second year of competition, Murphy had won the regional competition, won the state competition and was moving on to compete in the nationals.
“Almost every state, if not every state, is represented,” Murphy said.
His professor at Francis Tuttle, Ron Anderson, credits Murphy’s success to persistence and a good work ethic.
“Daniel worked a lot to get to that point,” Anderson said.
“He worked evenings and we worked up at the school on Saturdays and Sundays. So it gave him a goal to shoot for.
“Daniel never was cocky about it. He just constantly stayed on task.
“With Daniel it was, ‘I need to do a little more work in this area, I need to do a little more work in that area.’ And he did, constantly. He was studying up until the night before.”
Murphy credits both his professors at Francis Tuttle as well as his parents for his success in Skills USA.
He said he became interested in automotive services in the first place because of the time he spent with his father resurrecting an old Ford.
“Somewhere in there my actual motivation for doing what I do is whenever I was working with my dad,” Murphy said.
“We were putting a head gasket on a Thunderbird. What made me know I wanted to do this was me actually seeing that car barely make it up into the driveway — with all kinds of white smoke coming out the back — and then being able to drive it after fixing it.”
His reward for his accomplishments in Skills USA was fitting, he said.
“I’d say good stuff: toolboxes and professional tools. Starting out being a mechanic, you got to have tools and so I actually wound up getting Snap-on and Matco tools, which are ridiculously expensive, easily worth $2,000.”
While he studies to finish his associate degree, Murphy works full time for Bob Moore Cadillac in Oklahoma City.
After he graduates in the spring of 2012, he plans to be a fulltime mechanic for 10 to 15 years.
“And after that, I don’t know. Just wherever I decide to go at that time.”