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Passing on experience

Auto Tech instructors of LLC

by: Leah Oathout/Production Manager

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Kevin Miller (left) supervises as students Magnaflux an engine head.
Photo by Leah Oathout

Whether they want to turn wrenches or transfer and become engineers, the Automotive Technology students at Lake Land College can be sure that the three Automotive instructors will give them all the experience necessary to join the field. Scotty Adams, Brian Madlem and Kevin Miller have a combined 41 years of experience in the automotive field and nearly as much in teaching.

Of the three instructors, Kevin Miller has been teaching at LLC the longest, starting his 16th year this fall, finally overtaking his field experience of 15 years. He mainly teaches sophomores in classes like Automatic Transmissions, Manual Drivetrain, and his personal favorite, Steering and Suspension.

“[The class] flows well,” Miller said. “The students seem to understand it a little easier.”

Outside of class, Miller spends more time with his family than vehicles. He and his wife live in his hometown of Shelbyville. Their daughter is an alumnus of both LLC and Eastern Illinois University and their son recently graduated high school and is playing college baseball. While Miller used to tinker with performance modifications, his favorite extracurricular automotive activity is seeing how many miles per gallon his Geo Metro can get on his daily commute.

Freshmen will come to know the phrase “I can’t confirm or deny that” very well by the end of Electrical 1 and Engine Performance 1 with Brian Madlem.

“[The students] gotta go out and look for it. I’m not going to give you an answer,” he explained.

The Charleston native had approximately 15 years of dealership experience before becoming an instructor 11 years ago. The most rewarding moments he has as a teacher are when students “grasp a concept” in the classroom or in the lab. On the other hand, there are days when his temper is tested by a lack of motivation.

“On certain days… you can tell when nobody wants to be in class,” Madlem said.

Madlem’s idea of easing the tension after a long day is working on old tractors and Massey semi trucks. He is a member of both the East Central Illinois Antique Farm Equipment Club and the Massey Collectors of Illinois. He owns several antique tractors and semis and appreciates their simplicity compared to the complexities of modern vehicles.

Scotty Adams knows just how complicated current automobiles are. An independent shop owner for ten years, Adams brings a different outlook to the Automotive program. In the spring, he teaches ASE Review and Engine Performance 3, but in the fall, he teaches his favorite class, Introduction to Automotive, to freshmen.

“Everyone is new and fresh,” he said. “The difficult part is having younger students who know nothing and older students who have experience and trying to teach in the middle.”

Adams also spends a lot of time with students out of class at Coles County Dragway as the advisor of the drag racing portion of Automotive Club. He actually got the ball rolling when he was president of the club.

“By the time we actually got [the Firebird] to the track, I was already teaching here,” Adams explained, “…I was only gone about two years after my degree.”

All three instructors are graduates of the automotive program at LLC. In addition, all three are Automotive Service Excellence Master Technician certified as required by the college. This means they have passed all eight written tests that test a technician’s knowledge and experience. Rectification is required every five years to ensure that the technician or instructor is keeping up with technology.

With plenty of field and teaching experience, the Automotive Technology instructors of Lake Land are sure to prepare every student in the program for the competitive field of the automotive industry.

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