Gunn Auto was the beginning of a long journey for me. I kind of knew about cars but taking the class really opened my eyes to how much I didn't know. It's a really good class to get some hands on experience with cars, and understanding how they work. Even if you aren't into cars or plan on doing anything with them, it's a good class to take, so you can learn how to do at least basic things on your own. I didn't really know what I wanted to do with myself at that point in my life, but after being in the class for only a few months, I knew it had to be something in the automotive field.
Following Camicia's recommendation, I am currently in De Anza Auto. Gunn Auto put me a step ahead when I first got there. If I had never taken Auto at Gunn, I'd be another lost college student with no direction. It motivated me to pursue a career in that field and now I've been working on cars for 2 years, and working on cars for friends and family. My goal is to eventually work at a dealership or own a shop, and I wouldn't be anywhere close if Gunn Auto wasn't around.
Abe Martinez, 2008
Auto was the most enjoyable and interesting class I took during my time Gunn (and the only one I still talk about on a regular basis). There is simply no other class like it. It's a class you look forward to going to all day, and a place where no matter what your other interests are everyone comes together. One of the best parts of the class is having science geeks, jocks, theater people, you name it, all working together, joking around, and getting to know a hell of a lot about cars. While I may not use exactly what I learned on a day to day basis, the experience has stayed with me. Auto was one of the only classes where you, within a matter of days, got to see what you learned in a book actually happening, and then mess around with whatever it was. No other class gave me that much freedom. The teaching style was fantastic. There was nothing that Mr. C didn't let you do in the shop (after proper training of course), and you got to see how, in real life, things don't go exactly as planned in a book. Seeing this and learning how to adapt has definitely stayed with me in many of my engineering labs.
Alex Esber, 2008
My experience in the Auto Tech program has provided me with valuable hands on experience that is no longer found in most high school curriculum. This hands-on experience has given me an edge both in my pursuit of my Mechanical Engineering degree from UC Santa Barbara as well as the subsequent professional career. Not only was the Auto Tech experience fun and memorable, it also provided opportunities to use tools, troubleshoot, and learn in an outside of the textbook environment.
Alvin Cheng, 1999
Auto was definitely one of the most influential classes I had at Gunn. I know for sure that I learned the most useful life skills from this class, even more than the other classes at Gunn put together. You know, it's ...funny, I realized when I got to Berkeley that having taken Auto is a huge advantage for me over other engineering students, especially the ones that have never gotten their hands dirty. You were a cornerstone of my education at Gunn, and I know you will be for many generations of students to come.
Anton Savinov, 2010
During those 4 years of my life, if I had to choose one class that I'd do all over again, it would have to be Auto Tech Class. I believe what made this class not only educational and fun was the instructor, Mike Camicia. His style of teaching promoted team work, taught students social/life lessons and most importantly, he made the classroom environment fun to be in. I've always believed in everything happening for a reason and had I not been able to take Auto Tech, I wouldn't be the same person I am today.
I am currently working in law enforcement as a police officer in the state of California. Although, my job does not directly involve automotive aspects, I can definitely troubleshoot a car not working properly over the average citizen, thanks to the knowledge I gained in Auto Tech. I must say that it does come in handy when I occasionally have to stop to help a disabled motorist on the side of the road. Auto Tech opened my eyes and taught me to see things in a different light. I loved how Mike Camicia was able to associate and make watching a film such as "American Graffiti" into a learning experience due to the film's heavy focus on the American Car culture back in the day.
Before Auto Tech, I never saw Motorsports as a real "sport", but after attending racing events from small scale local events to NASCAR, I will always have the utmost respect for race car drivers and teams. It is not until you know what really goes on behind the wheel and when one experiences the feel what it is like at the race track on race day before they completely understand that motorsports are for REAL. Even to this day, I am an avid race fan and attend NHRA and NASCAR events on a yearly basis. With all that is said and done, I would strongly recommend EVERYONE to take this class at some point. Regardless of their interest in cars, this course is I highly doubt anyone would regret taking. Auto Tech is one of those classes where the environment and instruction make it worth your while. I am very glad to have been able to be a part of Gunn Auto Tech and fortunate to be able to have been able to keep in touch with Mike Camicia as he will always be a friend and mentor to me. Thanks for everything.
Bill Chen, 2001
Morgan Stefik is one of your former students and has enrolled in the materials engineering department here at Cal Poly. Morgan has told us that you were the most influential educator while at your school.
Morgan Stefik earned a BE in Materials Engineering from Cal Poly SLO where he researched polymeric materials and organic solar cells. In 2005 Morgan joined the Wiesner and DiSalvo groups at Cornell, department of Materials Science and Engineering and worked with the Cornell Fuel Cell Institute.
Cal Poly, Department of Materials Engineering, 2001
Where do students learn to think for themselves and respect their teacher enough to visit long after graduating? The answer is Gunn High School Auto Tech with Mr. Camicia. Sciences practice prescribed methods of thought and problem solving. But in Auto Tech I learned how to think for myself, and to use that thought process to problem solve. One of the first lessons I remember was changing a headlight. It was a simple task but the experience brings back the satisfaction of working with my hands, the accomplishment of completing a task all without written instructions or prior knowledge. I had to select the proper tools, remove the right fasteners, and pull just hard enough to release the bulb without breaking any parts. Little things like learning how to finesse a screw back into place without breaking it is a lesson in mechanical principles, and common sense, that defies second hand learning. Everyday I solve problems at work or school. As a construction project manager each day brings new challenges. The thought process I learned from Mr. Camicia helps me get to the bottom of things quickly. The best thing I took away from Auto Tech is life. I was an immature teenage driver, always making poor choices with regards to driving laws. Mr. Camicia steered me towards safe, fun racing venues off of public streets. Not only have I channeled my fun away from public streets, but I have discovered a true passion, performance driving. My life would truly not be the same without Mr. Camicia.
Casey Burkhart, 1998
Auto was the best class at Gunn, hands down!!!!!!
Chris Szutu, 2003
I took Auto I my junior year just to fulfill my vocational credit, however along with Mr. C not only teaching me the difference between a carburetor and distributor and what the heck a v8 engine was, I learned that I really enjoyed using my hands to fix and cut and measure things. This experience was unique to my whole high school career, I found that I like this aspect of hands-on learning. I went on to take Auto II my senior year and Mr. C always ensured we were working, and working hard. Another student and I worked on creating the chassis of a Surf Woody (an amazing concept car) from a toy model. We were given the model and a few pictures and told to get to work. I remember finally applying those sine and cosine rules I learned in class to something real, where these calculations would actually affect the outcome of a car. We finally measured out all the tubing we would need and told Mr. C, he presented us with the tubes the next day with the statement, "Here you go, I got you 7ft extra, don't mess up." We were terrified that we were going to mess up, but with Mr. C's advice we developed a system of cutting and fashioning the pipes so that they would fit just so. By the end of the year we had a rolling chassis. I didn't go on to do anything related to auto, I majored in Biology and Biochemistry and I'm just starting my PhD in Biology at MIT; however, I've found that the hands-on experiences that Mr. C's class gave me helped me excel in my lab courses. However, more importantly, Mr. C emphasized in his classes the importance of asking questions, making hypotheses, and problem solving. These are all skills that I started to develop in auto class and are an inherent part of my life as a biology graduate student today. Mr. C's auto program is not just a way to fulfill a vocational requirement, Mr. C's auto program is a way for students to learn how to think about problems in a fun, safe, albeit a little bit oily, environment.
Claudia Vasquez, 2006
Auto Tech at Gunn with Mr. Camicia had a huge effect on my life. I didnít start driving until after I started the class in my sophomore year and I had already been hooked. Learning everything from how to fix almost any problem to how to be a safer driver intrigued me, and the way that Camicia taught the class made the topics fun. Once I had obtained my drivers license and my first car, practical application of those topics made them even more appealing. I have yet to find more than one or two uses for calculus, where the knowledge of how to change the oil in my car comes in handy every few months. Mr. Cís teaching didnít stay on campus. He taught me and many other students how to control a car in extreme situations on an autocross track on select weekends. The chance to drive class racecars also gave me something to strive for that geography just couldnít provide, and I will never forget winning the Duel at De Anza race in the Gunn High School Mazda RX-7. Driving red and white Rx-7ís also influenced my purchase of two different RX-7ís of my own later on. I took a lot of classes at Gunn, but Auto Tech was the only one that I looked forward to every day and did well in, and Mike Camicia is the only teacher that I remember, let alone keep in contact with. Ever since leaving Gunn and Auto Tech, automotive performance and racing cars has been a passion of mine that has influenced every decision I have made. After attending one semester of school at San Diego State University without a car, I took a semester off where I worked at Speed Merchant, a San Jose based automotive performance shop, attended Auto Tech classes at De Anza College and bought a car to race. I realized that I would need a degree to fund such an expensive hobby and went back to school. The car bug bit again and I moved to Orange County to get an industrial design degree so that I could design cars. I now live and work just outside of Seattle Washington and I model semi-truck concepts out of clay. If I still lived in the bay area I would still spend my free time at Gunn working on cars and annoying Camicia with a myriad of questions. Cars are such a huge part of everyday life and our safety relies on the knowledge of their operators and the people maintaining them. The factual knowledge that I gained from Auto Tech class, and the practical knowledge that I gained from Camicia have been invaluable throughout my life. I save a lot of money with what I learned in high school; it might all find its way back into my car, but at least itís by choice. There is no better class than Auto Tech and there is no better guy to teach if than Mr. C. Thanks for everything Camicia
Colin Kelley, 2001
Auto was an amazing experience and learned loads of useful information about cars and how they work. In Auto 1, I learned about the fundamentals of the mechanics of the engine, transmission, brakes, tires, and many other interesting details. Studying the processes involved in making a car operate was tedious and at times confusing, but very rewarding in the end, as all my understanding of all the components came together. We had the opportunity to work on cars even in Auto 1, and I always looked forward to these days when I could implement the knowledge that I obtained earlier in the week. Mr. Camicia constantly had a lesson plan and projects ready for us and varied up the type of work that we did. In the shop we worked in groups on different tasks such as assembling and disassembling engines, swapping wheels and tires, and other miscellaneous activities. Senior year I was extremely excited to take Auto 2 knowing that I would spend less time in the classroom and more time with hands-on experience in the shop. Everything we did in Auto 1 was taken to the next level and we always had cars to work on and jobs that Mr. Camicia planned for us. He provided help and instruction when needed, but otherwise we were on our own and this gave me a sense of responsibility and pride when I accomplished a goal. We learned about more complicated functions of car parts and performed whole engine and transmission swaps, dealt with electrical components, and replaced brakes. Honestly, Automotive Technology was the class I looked most forward to in my day and I was bummed out the one day a week that I didn't have it. Auto was definitely very different from other classes at Gunn, although Mr. Camicia had a curriculum that he followed there was greater flexibility as compared to other classes which made it more enjoyable for the students. Overall, he was an amazing teacher and made the class infinitely more interesting. Mr. Camicia added hilarious anecdotes to his lectures and created a great learning environment and his immense knowledge of cars left no question unanswered. After taking two years of Automotive Technology I walked out with an abundance of knowledge that comes in handy on a regular basis. If your car quits in the middle of the road, you will be able to figure out what's wrong, jump-start it, change a tire if necessaryÖ all things that I have had to do before, using what I learned in the class. I don't know whether my future career will involve cars, but I do know that my passion for auto was reinforced by Mr. Camicia and the two years of Automotive Technology classes that I took at Gunn.
Daniel Gelman, 2010
I am one of the fortunate students to have studied under Mr. Camicia for two years. Gunn Auto Tech was by far one of my favorite classes in high school. In a generation in which classes like woodshop and home economics are rare, Gunn Auto Tech taught me practical skills that have applied in my life and profession today.
In the educational environment of today, classes like Gunn Auto Tech are crucial to a well-rounded education for young students.
1) We learn in auto tech how to solve problems. There is no note memorization and no cookie cutter approach. We learn to think outside the box. This is what sets American education apart from the others. We don't focus on just memorizing facts, but rather teach our students how to apply that knowledge to innovate and be creative. Mr. Camicia shows his students how to take a car that is designed to have a front engine become a mid-engine "funny" car. He teaches us that a beat up Datsun 510 that no one would bother to look at can become a replica legendary race car that people think is the real thing. Mr. C also teaches us how to diagnose routine, simple problems in cars such as a faulty bearing in the transmission, a leaky gasket, or a wiring problem.
2) We learn in auto tech that the details matter. When you see the cars that Mr. C's students have restored over the years, you see that the details are what make these old junkers become cars anyone would be proud to drive. When we get cars ready for a race meet it's the attention to detail that makes the cars look their best.
3) We learn in auto tech how to work as a team. Mr. C's classes are by far the most diverse of Gunn High School. Nowhere else do you get students from all ethnic backgrounds and cliques. Gunn Auto Tech is a place where any student can thrive and work together, from the jock, to the nerd, to the Homecoming King or Queen.
Today, I work as a physician. These skills that I have developed in Gunn Auto Tech are absolutely crucial to my profession on a daily basis. Problem solving, attention to detail, and teamwork are what have helped me succeed in college and medical school and now in residency. Mr. Camicia and Auto Tech have had a huge impact on my growth and development in high school, academically and personally, and I hope that the program will continue for years to come so that future generations of students can have the same experience.
Dr. Joe Kwok, 2002
I took both automotive classes offered at Gunn taught by the exceedingly knowledgeable and amiable Mr. Camicia. These classes were unlike all my other classes at Gunn. In auto I was able to learn by doing. Mr. Camicia knows the importance of first-hand experience and lets his students try things out for themselves and learn from both successes and failures. Mr. Camicia also gives students a lot more freedom and responsibility than other teachers at Gunn. Camicia actually lets the students "own" their project, and ownership is an excellent motivator. Lastly, Mr. Camicia truly cares about all his students. If you pay attention to Mr. Camicia, he will pay attention to you. I got to know Mr. Camicia on a personal level better than other teachers because of his genuine care for students. When looking back on my high school education, it's clear that Auto was an indispensable experience. Thanks Mr. (and Mrs.) Camicia!
Eric Schmidt, 2010
Mr. Mike Camicia and his "one of a kind" Auto Technology program at Gunn High School is a beacon of practical education that has guided me, and countless other students, to professional and personal success. Mikeís dedication to the vocations of teacher and master automotive technician, strongly influenced my education after high school, as I earned my Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters of Science in Materials Engineering. Since graduating with my undergraduate degree I have faithfully applied the sum of my knowledge to the defense of our Nation by working for the United States Air Force. What I have achieved to date, started in Gunnís Auto Tech Classes, under the watchful eye of Mr. Camicia. Over the course of three short years under Mikeís tutelage (I take pride in being among the first students to be taught by him), I learned humility, perseverance, dedication to excellence, resourcefulness, leadership, project management, and a lot of common sense (often the hard way!). It is through Auto Tech that I learned to enjoy the lessons of physics and mathematics as I applied them in learning chassis dynamics, suspension design, heat transfer, kinematics, and engineering control systems. Mike and his Auto Tech classes foster this, and as result my learning experiences werenít confined to the classroom. For over 18 years Iíve been actively involved in Auto Tech programs and the Motorsports community. As an undergrad I led the formation of Team Rose Motorsports, a club at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, which uses the crucible of motorsports to sharpen future engineering talent. More recently, I continue to serve as the Regional Executive for the Western Ohio Region Sports Car Club of America which provides motorsport enthusiasts with safe, professionally sanctioned, and competitive outlets to channel their inner racers. Without the foundation of knowledge that I gained in Gunnís Auto Tech class, these accomplishments could not have been built, and my life would lack the richness that these experiences have brought.
Frank Levinson, 1999
I was one of the very few girls in my Auto class, but it was still an amazing experience. I learned the basics of a car, how everything goes together and even what to do in an emergency situation. Being a girl and having this information has really helped me on a social setting. People, especially guys, take me more seriously and figure that just because I'm a girl it doesn't mean that I like to paint my nails and do my hair all the time. Granted this class is not about meeting guys, but obtaining knowledge of a complex machine. In today's society anyone can go and take their car into a repair shop and pay a mechanic to fix any problem that they can find. Being able to handle a problem on your own saves you a ton of money but it also gives you a sense of independence. Mr. Camicia was an amazing and very helpful teacher. He guided you through each assignment and was encouraging when you felt that you were incapable of completing a task. He gave me the knowledge and confidence to continue my learning of cars. It was because of Mr. Camicia that I entered my first autocrossing event, during which I won my class. I would highly recommend this course for anyone, even if they are not interested in cars. There is an underlying message in the class that if at first you don't succeed, try and try again. I am very grateful to Mr. Camicia and all he has done for me. He has given me a sense of appreciation for an amazing machine and blessed me with knowledge that will aid me through every aspect of my life.
Haley Geiselhart, 2010
Auto Tech, besides being the most fun you can have on campus, is also the most practical class you can take at Gunn. Mr. Camicia doesn't just teach you how to fix cars, he teaches you how to use tools, work with people, and have a blast actually doing the things he teaches. Sure, I learned math, science and history at Gunn, but I use skills and knowledge I learned in Auto almost every day. Take this class, pay attention, work hard, and I guarantee you'll learn something you can use for the rest of your life and have a good time doing it!
Jacob Neugass, 2010
Auto Tech was fun because it wasnít just textbooks, memorization and essays like most classes. We actually got to see how an engine worked inside and out. I remember doing brake jobs, replacing clutches, and we built race cars. I gained the confidence in that class that I could accomplish things I wasnít sure I could and had never done before, and the feedback wasnít just a letter grade, it was the sound of cars coming to life. Mr. Camiciaís Auto class taught me things that I could see the value in right away. Having the freedom to get my hands on projects instilled confidence in me and sparked an interest in anything with moving parts. Helicopters became a fascination and a dream that eventually led me to pursue becoming a helicopter pilot. When I started flight school every nuance of flight was new to me, but the helicopters we trained in were powered by relatively simple gasoline engines, not much different than beefed up Volkswagen Bug engines. Many of the other flight students had to learn all of the concepts of the engine, but these and others (splash lubrication, fuel injection vs. carburetion) were already very well known to me, and I was able to spend that time studying other material. It says a lot that the only teacher I have kept in contact with all these years is Mr. Camicia. Auto had a huge influence in my life and taught me much more than just cars and engines.
Jeff Dilley, 1999
Before high school I was always interested in the way things worked, and I learned rigorous mathematical engineering principals in college as I worked toward my Bachelors and Masters degrees in mechanical engineering. But between playing with Legos and going to college, in Mike Camicia's Auto Shop, I learned about how things work in the real world.
Working on cars shows you how competing requirements constrain engineering design when things aren't as simple as a textbook problem. As an example, in Auto we frequently saw cars where the engine oil filter can't be removed without time consuming disassembly of unrelated parts, making oil changes much more difficult than necessary. What we learned from Mr. Camicia (along with how to work around the problem) was that in most of these cases, the car was a good design by itself and the engine, designed independently of the car, was also a good design. But combined they were a system that didn't work well. In the real world building good products requires an engineer to understand the way things have to work together and how they will be maintained.
Since graduating from college I work as an engineer at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works doing aerospace design. At Lockheed Martin we design aircraft to be as robust as possible while at the same time being as light and as inexpensive as possible. The aircraft we build have to be maintained in the field, and turned around quickly between maintenance actions to maximize flying time. A whiteboard full of equations, state of the art computer CAD design tools, or FEM analysis cannot replace an engineer's gut feel knowledge when trying to balance cost, weight, maintainability, manufacturability, and packaging constraints when designing a complex aircraft part or system.
Design for real world applications is never simple, and there are almost always significant design constraints as well as other systems which impact real aircraft components. The knowledge I gained in Auto Shop applies to my job every day and help me design products that are as cost effective as possible, can be manufactured without high scrap rates, are easily integrated into an aircraft, and work right the first time, minimizing testing failures and component redesign. Going to college made me an engineer, but taking Auto Shop made me a good engineer.
John Sproule, 1999
I am a Class of 2000 alumnus of Gunn High and I strongly endorse Mr. Camicia and the Gunn Auto program. In a day and age where everything is going digital and kids spend more time on Facebook or chat than face-to-face, hands-on experiences like those provide by Mr. C and his program have become a rarity, especially in the high school setting. Mr. C's class provides students a real-world experience where the classroom and the hands-on meet in a way very few class today can provide. For example, I understand that most photography classes have gone digital, thus depriving students of the "dark-room experience". Mr. Camicia's teaching style also encourages students to think outside of the box and apply real-world problem solving skills. Unlike equations in calculus or physics, there is not a single solution to problems presented to the students. What may work on one car, might not work on another - even if the cars are identical. In addition, unlike the classroom problems, students must identify the problem in a car before they can work towards a solution - they aren't given a set of problems on a piece of paper. Looking back, another benefit of Mr. Camicia's class is that it is truly a melting pot for the campus community. No where else on campus can one find jocks and nerds and students of all different backgrounds in the same classroom sharing the same interests. Today, I work in finance in San Francisco. While this is many years removed from my time with Mr. Camicia, I still find myself applying both the problem-identifying and problem-solving skills I learned through his class. As I mentioned before, the problems students face in the real world are often not straightforward as those presented on paper. I strongly support Mr. Camicia and all the work and effort he puts into helping his students learn and grow.
Jonathan Kwok, 2000
Gunn Auto really sets a starting point for things to come. It's an introduction to a vast and ever-growing culture. From engineers who build them, to designers (like me: working on a degree in Industrial Design) who make them look good and practical. Because technology has evolved so quickly and cars have become more advanced, so should the class. While at the same time the class still teaches a great history and gives the standard basics that set up the future. The class teaches you the knowledge that you keep.
This class sets the bar for what classes should be. You walk out of that class with opportunities that could define the rest of your life. It gave us the opportunity to share our ideas, take care of our own, and really have fun and enjoy the rest of the world that has been influenced so much by the vehicles we drive today. The class still gives students that same opportunity, thanks to you Mr. C. I remember the teachers like you who made us adults, and gave us a reason to take what we have learned, and apply it to our everyday lives to be successful, and to pass our knowledge, passion, and energy on to the next generation.
Josh Mackle, 2005
Auto has affected my life in many useful ways. Generally, every person living around the world has a car for commuting to school or work. Now, what good is a car without knowing the fundamentals? Imagine being stranded in the middle of the desert because of a broken down automobile. What are you going to do? This is why Mr. Camicia is here to teach us the basic needs to inspect/repair your car. In the two years I took Auto I learned a lot. Taking auto is a requirement for your future, because no matter what you become,a psychologist, a biologist, a computer programmer, or a business man/woman, etc., they all use cars to transport from point A to B. Automotive knowledge also protects you from being taken advantage of when it comes to repairs, especially if you are a female. Furthermore, I highly recommend taking Auto. Mr. Camicia's an awesome teacher who shares his years of personal stories/experiences. There will never be a reason to ask yourself why this class is important (like you may ask yourself about some other classes) because... IT IS USEFUL!
Korhan Baker, 2010
I was presented with the academic award for excellence in automotive technology, Class of 2004 at Gunn High School in the Palo Alto Unified School District. I was a freshman when my friends first told me of auto class with, as far as I could tell from the stories, the most influential and revered teacher our school had to offer. The loyalty and admiration my friends had for the auto program sold me instantly. Determined to join the famous ďGunn Auto TechĒ, I gained early acceptance as a sophomore in Auto 1. Throughout the program auto shop became a second home and Mr. Camicia a second father to me. The class provided a reprieve from the obstacles unavoidable in a high school experience. Mr. C was always there to help us figure out how to fix our car or our life. I will always appreciate Mr. C for my love and desire to work on cars, and his unconditional acceptance and guidance that no other program could offer me. Mr. C, and his wife Nadine, continues to inspire me about cars, personal respect, love for hard work, and common sense. The amount the Camicias go above and beyond for their students was a necessary and irreplaceable agent for my sanity in the chaotic high school atmosphere. Thanks to them, auto has proved to be more than a just a high school elective in my life; it is a focus I continually refer to for guidance and stability.
Lillie Pickering, 2004
How The Gunn Auto program changed my life is a pretty easy question to answer. Before I started the program, I knew I liked cars, planes and all sorts of mechanical things. I also knew I wanted to learn more about cars in particular. Before I entered the auto program I had a very rough understanding of how cars worked, I had been taught a few things by my father but never had the opportunity to sit down and learn about cars in a classroom setting. When I finally got to enter the auto program, it was everything I could wish for, Some classroom time with some sweet cutaway engines and diagrams so you could actually see all the moving parts and how they worked together, mixed with a bunch of hands on time practicing what we learned in the classroom.
I really started learning about cars in more detail than ever before especially when Mr. C would take us out auto crossing, have us compete in the sand hill challenge against Palo Alto High or have us build a supercharged mid engined nova. It was the application of everything we learned in class and applying it to something fun and competitive that the whole class and school could get behind that really stepped it up a notch for me. Staying at school hours after class was over to get a project done were some of the best memories I had of high school. We had a great sense of accomplishment after every project we finished as a team that I never felt from any other class I took.
When I was attending Gunn, I was in the special education program, not because I was less intelligent or had a disability, but because I learned differently than the other kids. Being in the Auto Tech program and doing well in it gave me a lot of confidence in myself that I otherwise my not have had in that time of my life. I am a hands on and a visual learner so it was refreshing to have a class where I got to use my hands to learn, as apposed to the more traditional sit, listen and take notes. Not everyone that goes through Gunn High School will want to be a writer, a chemist, an accountant or a computer programmer. I wasn't interested in any of those things which is why I am grateful to Gunn for offering a program like this with a teacher as great as Mr Camicia.
Now I work as a personal trainer at a gym in Palo Alto and I am loving it! It's a great hands on job that keeps me in shape for all my hobbies, one of which is racing cars and shifter karts. I drive for a proffesional karting team based in Napa and have been doing so for about 8-9 years now. Racing is the biggest passion in my life and I can trace it back to when Mr. C would take me out to go auto crossing and I got my first taste of racing, I was hooked instantly! I still love racing at the professional karting level and still have aspirations to race Porches and open wheel formula cars to this day. I had no idea how much of an impact the Auto class and Mr. C would have on my life at the time, and I am thankful that I did sign up for Auto Tech class because I'm sure I'd be a very different person today. This is a class that needs to be a part of everyone's experience at Gunn! Thank you Mr, Camicia for teaching one amazing Auto program!
Matt Alcorn, 2002
I spent 2 years in Automotive Technology under Mr. Camicia during my tenure at Gunn High School. In a school filled with numerous stimulating courses and extracurricular activities, I can honestly say that Auto with Mr."C" was both my most enjoyable and most rewarding course.
Fundamentally Auto teaches about the mechanical processes of vehicles which alone can be invaluable in this mechanical world in which we live. To this day I conduct almost all of the routine maintenance and repair work on my own vehicles which has surely saved me thousands of dollars over the years.
Even more important than the mechanical prowess that one gains through Auto Tech is the problem solving skills one develops working in a group setting. You are taught to take a given symptom, diagnose its cause, formulate a possible solution and to apply the said solution. This complete problem solving process is something rare in the classroom. There is no answer key to turn to, just your knowledge of physics, mechanics and your hands and your brain.
I now work as a marine biologist for the state of California. Although I may not spend my days under the hood, the skills and knowledge I attained while in Auto at Gunn help me everyday. My mechanical knowledge helps me diagnose and solve problems on our boats. My knowledge of internal combustion engines makes ordering and purchasing the correct parts for our vessels almost instinctive. My collaborative problem solving skills and leadership help me on a daily basis with everything from dealing with electronic water quality instruments, to managing computer databases to personnel issues.
With that said, I would highly recommend both Automotive Technology as a course at Gunn and Mr. Camicia as an instructor to anyone and everyone. I guarantee that anyone who takes this course will find themselves falling back on the skills they learned there throughout their career, regardless of what field that may end up being.
Max Fish, 2001
Auto was the one class I actually looked forward to in all 4 years. This was the class where I learned something I actually could use. Chem isn't applicable at all compared to something as simple as an oil change.
Paul Larsen, 2007
Mr. Camicia and the projects in the Auto Tech class at Gunn were instrumental in my decision to study Mechanical Engineering in college. Auto was my first exposure to using my hands and tools to work on machinery and showed me that it was something I truly enjoyed. Furthermore, the hands on experience I received in auto gave me a leg up on other engineering students in college as it gave me the ability to apply the things learned in the classroom to real world projects.
Today I have a master's degree in mechanical engineering and have been working in the aerospace industry for over five years in a job I love. I am positive that I would not be where I am today if not for Mr. Camicia and my experience in Auto Tech at Gunn.
Roland Smith, 2000
The class, Auto, and you, as a teacher, have defined me and my fundamentals as an engineer and a person. I remember back when we were working on some poorly designed car, you would look at us with a serious face and say "When you become an engineer, Design it better." These words have stuck with me today, and it pretty much is my motivation and drive for me to be a better engineering student at UCSD and an intern at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. No joke, anytime I work on any type of project, those words stumble back in to my head. Does it pass Mr. C's true test of good design? I can honestly say, the exposure that this class gives, students coming out of Auto are just as engineering savvy and practical, if not more so,than a senior college student studying engineering. If it weren't for this class, I would have been just another student lost in the sea of college,but with Auto, and the background it has given me, allowed me to excel and strive for excellence. Academically Auto laid my foundation, and built the road to engineering, and without it I don't know how I would have gotten anywhere.
On a personal level, the people I've met through Auto have been some of the best and dearest. The 'Auto family,' which I am so blessed to be a part of, is always close to my heart. Auto gave me a place to be, I feel like back when I was in high school, I could have wasted my time doing silly things, but instead with the Auto Family, we spent it productive. We worked on things we loved, keeping us out of trouble. Mr. C took all of us under his wing,taught how to use our head and hands, and treated all of us like his own [so did Mrs. C].
We all had a fun time being in that class working on the Model T, and working days and evenings trying to get that machine running for the endurance run.It wasn't a class; at that point it became a passion. It's amazing, I talk to all my college buddies and coworkers about what we've done in this class, and I show them the Auto-tech web page, and every time, it never fails, I always see jaws drop, and they all say "you got to do that in high school? I wish I had that, I'm seriously jealous." I laugh, and thank god that I was involved in Gunn Auto, and that I got to enjoy and learn from all the experiences that the class has opened me up to.
Ron Kao, 2006
I cannot say enough about Gunn High's Auto Shop program. The years I spent in Mr. Camicia's class were easily the most valuable, fun, and all-around most enjoyable time during my high school education. Mr. Camicia brings years of automotive experience to the class, but also ensures that it is more than just that. It is truly a class where you can learn about life: responsibility, ethics, and other important lessons for being a functioning adult are impressed on the student, in addition to heaps of technical knowledge.
Mr. Camicia's Auto Shop program teaches incredibly valuable skills that I believe are getting further and further lost in today's curriculum. While the car-related knowledge that is gained is very practically and fiscally useful, I think the most important take-away is the 'hands-on' learning that gives students the opportunity to get their hands dirty and really learn what makes mechanical and electrical systems work. That kind of experience is priceless to students considering technical fields such as engineering for their career choices. During my time in graduate school I was able to teach undergraduate engineers for 2 years in lab environments, and I noticed a tremendous difference in engineering ability and critical thinking between students who had 'hands-on' experience and those who didn't.
Mr. Camicia's classes taught me important skill sets and provided valuable experiences that have directly helped me in my career. I currently work as a mechanical engineer for Sandia National Laboratories and I can honestly say I am a better engineer because of the time I spent in Gunn's Auto Shop. Whether you are considering technical career fields or just looking for an incredibly practical, useful, and fun class, I cannot recommend Mr. Camicia's auto shop program enough.
Ryan Johnson, 2002
"In UCSD's annual Teacher Recognition Program, high school seniors who accepted our offer of admission were given the opportunity to recommend a teacher who had a strong, positive academic influence on their lives. You were nominated by William Barley and Daniel Bowling."
University of California San Diego, 2002