A Cuban immigrant with strong educational credentials is the 2006 Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES)/SPX National Instructor of the Year.
The award goes to Eduardo Cruz, an automotive technical instructor at Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology in Naples, FL.
He was chosen from more than 450 instructors in AYES-certified schools nationwide. He is the third instructor awarded the honor from the Florida program — the only state to claim that many winners in the award's 6-year history.
SPX, a multi-industry manufacturer, sponsors the top-instructor award. It is intended to recognize those who excel in implementing the AYES model and its core components.
Besides the customary plaque, Cruz gets a family travel package (valued at about $6,000), a seat on the National AYES Instructors Roundtable and an SPX-sponsored post-secondary scholarship to an OEM program for the student of his choice.
In a brief, moving acceptance speech, Cruz said he “especially wanted to thank this great country for the opportunity” it has given him.
He was born and raised in Havana, and legally immigrated to the U.S. in 1998 with a PhD. in mechanical engineering in automotive maintenance and repair. From 1976 until he left Cuba, he had been a university professor teaching subjects such as applied physics, thermodynamic and automotive electrical systems.
In technical schools nationwide, AYES builds a bridge between the aspirations of technically oriented young people who are exploring career options, and the needs of auto dealers who urgently need talented service technicians.
The Florida Automobile Dealers Assn. is a driving force behind efforts to establish AYES programs at Florida schools.
“We are working very hard to increase the number of programs in the state,” says Randy Houck, who runs the Florida AYES program.