Melina Algier is the 2019 People’s Choice grand prize winner of the nonprofit TechForce Foundation’s Techs Rock Awards.
Algier is a service technician at Farnsworth Chevrolet in Canandaigua, N.Y.
The awards recognize working technicians who are striving to mentor and inspire the next generation of technicians, bringing excellence to their workplaces and communities, and demonstrating passion and commitment to the profession.
TechForce is a nonprofit organization focused on championing students to and through their technical education and into careers as professional technicians.
Algier prevailed over four other finalists who competed in an online, people’s choice vote in which more than 4,000 votes were cast. In addition to the TechForce $1,000 tool voucher sponsored by Snap-on that she received for winning Rookie of the Year, Algier will receive roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations to Scottsdale, Ariz., to enjoy Arizona Auto Week 2020 and be honored at the annual TechForce Foundation Summit.
“I have dedicated myself to proving that women can work in the automotive industry and that a young adult could have the strength and ability to learn hands-on through their peers and an open understanding mind,” says Algier. “Given the opportunity GM gave me, I’ve been able to move up to line tech in under a year. They’ve given me every resource I need to move up such as: training, special tools, resources and a friendly environment.”
The fact that the public chose Algier as its grand prize winner shows that attitudes about women techs are changing as they are being recognized for their capable contributions, according to Jennifer Maher, executive director of TechForce Foundation.
Algier is the first female technician at her shop, according to her nomination form:
“Melina joined the shop a year and a half ago with only one year experience as a lube tech at an establishment that told her that was all she could do because she was a girl. As the first female technician in our dealership, she quickly graduated from maintenance work to a line technician. In 12 months, she has completed over 70 GM certified courses and is now ready to start testing for ASE certifications. Melina now trains new incoming students and interns… She simply gets along with everyone.
"Mel has a great ability to work smarter, not stronger. She is very ingenious in using tools and research to make heavy jobs easier. She has a tremendous work ethic, arrives on time every day, and is eager to listen and learn from senior technicians. On days with heavy snow, Melina is the first to work and helps clear snow from sidewalks and customers’ cars. Melina has broken a lot of stereotypes around the industry being only for men. She is a wonderful example of dedication and pursuing the career that you want, not the one others think you should have…”
More than 280 working techs nationwide were nominated for one of five categories. TechForce Foundation’s panel of industry judges selected category winners who then competed in a national online vote for Peoples’ Choice grand prize winner.
Category judges were Bogi Lateiner, Bogi’s Garage; Greg Rintala, Snap-on Tools; Lyn St. James, race car driver; Tommy and Stephanie Pike, Tommy Pike Customs; and Julia Landauer, NASCAR driver.
Category winners were:
Pay It Forward – Jason Katzenberger, Kunes Country Ford in Delavan, Wis.
Rookie of the Year – Melina Algier, Farnsworth Chevrolet in Canandaigua, N.Y.
Die Hard Tech – Christopher Owen,M. Burritt Motors in Oswego, N.Y.
Outstanding Mentor – Michael Owens, Fullerton Ford in Somerville, N.J.
Barrier Buster – Samantha Britton, Billy Howell Lincoln Ford in Cumming, Ga.
“It’s been amazing to see the energy, enthusiasm and engagement the industry’s had for the Techs Rock Awards,” shares Julia Landauer, participating judge and NASCAR race car driver. “This award isn’t about how fast they can turn a wrench or their technical achievements, but about giving back, being involved in the lives of future techs, and helping others who want to follow in their steps succeed.”
To learn more about the 2019 Techs Rock Awards and the other category winners, visit: www.TechForce.org/TechsRock.