Taves takes his auto repair skills to the world stage
Skills Canada Alberta’s Aaron Taves works on a Hyundai 1.6L engine at Fountain Tire in Camrose on Monday as he prepares for the WorldSkills International competition in Abu Dhabi Oct. 15-18. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
Aaron Taves is ready to take on the world.
The 20-year-old Camrose native jumped a plane to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for the WorldSkills International competition to take on the best 21-and-under auto technicians from around the globe in eight different disciplines from Oct. 15-18.
Canada has never earned a medal in the automobile technology division at the competition, something Taves is driven to change.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling,” he said on Monday. “It’s an amazing feeling, but at the same time you have to keep your head about you and do what you know how to do.”
The WorldSkills International competitions have several different categories of trades in which young up-and-coming competitors battle it out, including hairstyling, carpentry, robotics and welding. There are 30 other members of Team Canada, one in each category, heading to the United Arab Emirates, including nine from Alberta. Taves has been competing since 2014 when the Camrose Composite High School student earned silver at a SkillsCanada Alberta Regional competition. He has since earned gold at provincial and national championships in high school and college.
He qualified for the world championship 15 months ago by finishing third at the SkillsCanada world qualifier in Moncton. N.B. However, those who finished ahead of Taves were 24 and 25 years old and ineligible to compete on the world stage, which has a 21-year-old age limit. In effect he was the top auto services technician in Canada in his age group. At the world competition, they will be competing in eight different areas including two engine mechanical stations, an engine diagnosis station, suspension station, a break station and a few other areas. Each of these stations come with a two-hour time limit and will take place over the course of two days of competition.
Taves says he is well-rounded in all of the categories, but says he is strongest in engine diagnosis, figuring out why a care is not running properly as well as body electrical.
To prepare for the WorldSkills International competition, Taves has been practicing and studying like any seasoned world-class athlete. Two to three days a week, after he finishes his shift at Fountain Tire in Camrose, he makes the drive into Edmonton where his mentor has a challenge awaiting him where he has to diagnose a mechanical issue with a vehicle and then fix the problem in a matter of a couple of hours. It is a very similar situation he will experience in Abu Dhabi.
“I basically go in, figure out the problem, fix it, and then we go over what I did and how I can go faster and things I did that were not as precise and steps I may have missed,” said Taves, who also travelled to Sweden for EuroSkills where he finished sixth out of 15 of the top European competitors at the beginning of his training.
He has also been pouring over a Hyundai 1.6L engine for the last 15 months, the same engine he will be working on at the competition. He can just about take the engine apart in his sleep.
“Every evening that I’m not going up to NAIT, I’m here playing with this,” said Taves, who is also a volunteer firefighter with the Camrose Fire Department. “It was the engine that was most available to get. It is a very unbuggy engine, it’s a very well built one, actually. I’m not sure what they’re going to make us do on it.”
Due to his efforts in getting ready for the competition he has fast-tracked his education and is now a fourth-year apprentice at NAIT, 88 hours away from going for his journeyman ticket. Through his success in the SkillsCanada competitions, he has earned a number of scholarships that have helped pay for his education.
He is not entirely sure how long he will remain an auto technician as he seeks out ways to feed his competitive desires. But these competitions and the preparations for them have given him the building blocks to be successful in whatever he takes on. He recommends that anyone looking to get into a trade while in high school to get involved in SkillsCanada.
“It really teaches discipline, you have to be disciplined to dedicate most evenings to practice for a competition,” he said. “It teaches you to work. You can’t just do the competition calmly, you have to be quick, accurate and sure of yourself all of the way along, and taking those qualities you get from this and putting it towards the real world is always beneficial.”