Considering how many school bus technicians there are in the United States, it is quite an honor to be singled out as one of the best. But that was the case in September when Coweta County bus technician Steve Addison, Jr., took second place in the “America’s Best School Bus Technician and Inspector” competition held in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
An 8-year employee of the Coweta County School System, Addison won Georgia’s bus technician competitions earlier in the year, and travelled to North Carolina for the annual competition sponsored by Cummins Engines, said school system spokesman Dean Jackson.
“We’re very proud of Steve. This is a great honor,” said Coweta County School System Transportation Director Judy Gresham. “We’re proud of all our technicians here. Every service and repair mechanic is very highly skilled, and (they are) extremely dedicated employees.”
Jackson said the competition featured 20 other technicians from across the nation. Competitors had to complete a comprehensive written exam and perform hands-on diagnostics over a 4-hour period that included diagnosing problems with school bus coolant systems, transmissions, electrical systems and other engine problems and describing maintenance remedies, Jackson said.
“It was pretty tough, but we had a blast,” said Addison. “It’s a feeling of accomplishment, and all the guys there were on the same level, so it was a very tough competition.”
Addison won out over 33 other technicians to win Georgia’s technician competition earlier this year, said Jackson, adding that at the nationals, Addison came in second to technician Alan Fidler, of the Tippecanoe School Corporation of Lafayette, Indiana.
Addison received his training as a school bus technician at the Universal Technical Institute in North Carolina, and West Georgia Technical College. Addison’s father works as an HVAC technician for the Coweta County School System. His grandfather worked as a mechanic for Gentry Motors in Newnan for several years. Addison said he began working with his grandfather on engines at the age of 10, inspiring in him a life-long interest in mechanical work, said Jackson.
Jackson noted that Addison was not the first Coweta technician to enter the national competition. Tim Thrower was state champion and competed nationally in 2010. Technician Jamie Cash also placed in this year’s state competitions.
“The Coweta County School System transportation department has won first place in regional technician competitions every year for the past four years,” said Jackson.
The technical proficiency of Coweta staff shows, said Gresham.
Coweta’s school system manages 291 buses over 237 school routes. In all, about 14,000 students travel 12,000 miles daily, for a total of about 2.16 million miles traveled over a 180-day school year. All buses are inspected on a regular 21-day schedule throughout the year.
“Our maintenance record is excellent” said Gresham, complimenting the skilled employees like Addison and his fellow technicians. “They all have a hand in that.”