Real-world experience pays off for Taylor Keilman


Allie Jorgensen

Cars are a big part of senior Taylor Keilman’s days inside and outside of school.

Allie Jorgensen, Staff Writer

In his fourth year in the auto collision program, senior Taylor Keilman works at Dawson’s Customs, an automotive hot rod shop. He gets paid and earns class credit through a practicum transportation course, which means he leaves school at lunch and goes to work.

“I’m learning a lot more than I would just at school because it’s actually in the field,” Keilman said.

When his boss gets new hot rod cars, he calls Keilman to come in to fix any problems. His work mainly focuses on engine repair, so getting the car running and making it drivable. His training all started in Jeff Wilson’s auto collision class. 

He said enjoys the progress he sees “from when the car wasn’t working to getting it up and running and having a sound super good at that level.”

Currently, Keilman is working on some personal projects for his car – an original Shelby Cobra that’s worth $150,000. It took a while, but finally it is in good working condition. He’s also painting and adding parts to it.

Along with his own vehicle, Keilman has worked on other people’s vehicles by painting and fixing them. 

He has also done many smaller projects such as refinishing panels, where you take a piece of flat panel metal and custom paint it. Last year, Keilman entered the PiN MASTER challenge and got third place in the country. He won $1,000 total worth of awards, including an airbrush, an air hose and some other cool items. It was the biggest award he has ever won.

I have brought my airbrushing to do some just little touch up stuff on cars,” Keilman said. “If there’s scratches, I can just use that to touch up some areas and make it look better.”

Keilman said his parents have helped him the most throughout his auto mechanic journey. They have always been the ones supporting him and helping buy things he needs.

In the future, Taylor Keilman sees himself owning and managing his own auto body and mechanic shop with his own employees. He plans on getting his bachelors in automotive technology at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. He plans to apply for Weber after his two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I just really fell in love with Weber State and it has a really good program,” Keilman said.

Going into college, Keilman already has a head start.

I’ve always taught myself to be a pretty good painter, it’s just something that I could just catch on to easily and do well at work,” Keilman said. 

Wilson loves watching his students create cool personal projects and work efficiently. His class helps prepare students for future jobs and gain essential life skills. He trains them how to go out into the workforce after they graduate as a certified technician.

“It’s pretty unheard of that 18 year old kids are getting these particular certifications in high school, more or less outside of high school when they graduate,” Wilson said. “That is really, really important because it helps their employability.”

“Say 90 19 year olds go in for a job and they both have the same training. The only problem is one isn’t certified and one is… the one that is certified is most likely to get that job.”

Taylor’s mentor throughout high school has been Wilson. 

He’s always been the one to just help me and just teach me everything I need to know,” Keilman said. “Whenever I have questions or want to learn something new, he helps me there.”

Wilson said Keilman is an outstanding young man. He is attentive, passes everything with 100% and goes above and beyond when it comes to any hands on task. 

“Once he sees how it’s done, once he’s shown how it’s done and explained, he usually can knock it out after like the second or third time,” Wilson said. “He’s a very humble young man and very, very smart and good at what he does. He’s going to be outstanding.”