Born and raised in Providence, RI, I graduated from Hope High School in 2014. While I was in high school, I talked with the school guidance counselor about automotive training programs. I considered another technical school, but it was way too much money—and didn’t have as much hands-on as MTTI’s program, where 50-60% of the learning is conducted in the shop.
When I was young, I thought that I wanted to be an obstetrician to deliver babies. Then, in the 11th grade, I got my first car. I wanted to work on my own car—and, when I started to do that, it just clicked. My passion for working on cars grew, but without training, I didn’t know how to make the repairs the right way.
After graduating from high school, I was stationed in South Carolina, where I completed Basic Training. Then I entered the U.S. Army Advanced Individual Training at the Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic School. I gained a lot of experience in repairing diesel engines. Knowledge of diesel mechanics helped me understand the fundamentals, but it did not give me an advantage for being hired in the automotive industry.
Going to MTTI gave me a leg up on people who were applying for auto technician positions. The training I received in the Automotive Service Technician program made me stand out when employers at dealerships were considering applicants. Attending MTTI has also been the extra helping hand I needed to become a full-time technician with the RI National Guard.
That meant that, during the summer, I had to be out of school so I could go to a two-week training in Virginia. During those weeks, I was able to use the skills I had been learning at MTTI to get us up and running when our vehicles broke down.
The instructors and career services helped me build a network of employers. I first worked for Greico-Honda and then with Firestone in Warwick, RI. I had the opportunity, during the year I worked at Bald Hill Dodge, to become a RI Inspector. If I return at some time to the civilian workforce, being an Inspector will be a good choice pay-wise. Not many people have the state inspector license.
When new recruits came to me, I asked what goals they had—what did they want to do? Did they want to learn a trade? I kept the MTTI Automotive Service Technician tri-fold brochure, with my photo on the cover, framed and on my desk. I recommended to recruits interested in attending a technical or trade school—people who were hesitant to go to college—that they consider MTTI’s automotive, medical, computer, HVAC/R or motorsports programs. I helped them ease their transition from the Army to school. If someone wasn’t eligible to enlist, I recommended MTTI to them.
I went to Romania with the unit of 861st engineers who were working with Romanian and Dutch soldiers to construct engineering projects. As NATO allies, these units were building strong international relationships, while serving alongside one another. The knowledge from MTTI, and my experience in the National Guard’s FMS #4, helped me keep their vehicles running. I had my own radio, which kept me in contact with the team. I would report to any site requesting assistance for repairs that needed to be done on the spot. Corporal Justin Crespo, who works at FMS #4, and is being trained by Kenny, added, “We ran into a ton of problems that new guys wouldn’t be able to handle, so Kenney was very much in demand.”
I love it. Every day it gets better and better. Each year, I get opportunities for further training so that I can excel in the field. Each training focuses on certain parts of vehicles that mechanics can benefit from learning. In FMS #4, we make sure “nothing is broken; anything that is broken, we fix.” According to Army Regulations, the Field Maintenance Shop complies with the 10/20 Maintenance Standard, identifying all faults and performing repairs, services and other related work, so that all equipment is fully mission capable. As a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic, I supervise and perform maintenance, repair, and recovery operations on wheeled vehicles, and select armored vehicles, that serve the Army in a variety of mission-critical roles.
At MTTI, the shop skills instructor, Arturo, taught me a lot of good ‘tricks’, which he called ‘old mechanical tricks’. These little tricks help even when I’m working on diesel engines in the Army. I’m grateful I got the opportunity to be trained both at MTTI and in the Army National Guard. MTTI is where I’ve learned the skills I know now. The army has shaped me to want to teach and groom my new soldiers and my peers. I like knowing that my training and knowledge is being passed to my subordinates, and that they can then pass this down to their own subordinates.
Looking towards the future, I have two possible goals in mind. One would be to work as a Junior ROTC teacher in a high school. The other would be to become a shop skills Instructor—or eventually even a lead instructor—at MTTI. As I continue to gain experience, I will be better able to help others who are passionate about automotive technology to pursue their dreams. Every person I can inspire, who in turn inspires others, will pay forward what I’ve gained from the opportunities I’ve had to train at MTTI and with the Army National Guard.
Middle left: Sgt. Kenny Torres at FMS #4 (Courtesy of Corporal Justin Crespo, FMS #4)
Middle Right: Sgt. Kenny Torres returns to visit MTTI Top right: Sgt. Kenny Torres at FMS #4 (Courtesy of Corporal Justin Crespo, FMS #4)
Bottom right: Sgt Kenny Torres with Master Sergeant (MSG) Jose Vega, Surface Maintenance Mechanic Supervisor (Courtesy of Corporal Justin Crespo, FMS #4)