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Auto mechanics in the blood for CCCC graduate

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Click to enlarge,  Zachary Horner, The Sanford Herald. Cameron Miller, 20, of Sanford, checks a fluid level on his car. Miller graduated with an associate's degree from Central Carolina Community College a year-and-a-half ago and now works at Mercedes-Benz of Durham alongside his father Tom.

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Zachary Horner, The Sanford Herald. Cameron Miller, 20, of Sanford, checks a fluid level on his car. ... (more)

09.19.2016College & CommunityCollege General

By Zachary Horner, The Sanford Herald

SANFORD - Becoming an auto mechanic was almost a no-brainer for Cameron Miller. Even though his father Tom didn't want him to pursue it, he did anyways.

And he's enjoyed it.

Miller, 20, has worked in the service center of Mercedes-Benz of Durham for over a year alongside his father after graduating from Central Carolina Community College with an associate's degree in applied sciences. He applied that degree to learning more about fixing cars.

"I've always had a passion for cars," he said. "I've always had cars around me, so it's something I've always been into. So far, after a year and a half, I'm enjoying it. My dad didn't want me to do it."

Growing up around engines and tires and parts led Miller to pursue learning more about automobiles and how they run at CCCC. But he's continued to go to school while working at Mercedes-Benz.

The company has two different schools, one in Florida and one in New Jersey, where they train their employees to fix and work on the latest advances in car technology. During his time working in Durham, Miller has been to both schools and completed the "Technician in Development" program.

"All the new cars that come out, you have to learn it, especially with Mercedes-Benz being a leader in the innovation," Miler said. "There's a lot stuff we have to take on. Learning all the new gadgets and things that cars have, it's pretty fun."

It's a long way from being in classes at CCCC with instructors Craig Ciliberto and Chuck Mann, whom Miller cited as influences. But nobody was more influential than Dad.

"He was a big role model for me when it came to working on cars," Miller said. "He's got almost 40 years of experience in it."

Miller said he enjoys most tinkering around with engines. But there are some projects which present difficulty, such as one he ran into last week.

"I had a panoramic sunroof on a car that wouldn't close," he said. "We have a service bulletin out about it to just replace the rails that the sun foot rides on. I put brand new rails in it and put the sunroof back in. Immediately, when I went to go put the sunroof on, it broke again."

Turns out, the car needed a whole new frame for the roof.

"That's something I've run into that's been hard," he said. "I was down for two days trying to fix it before I came to that conclusion."

Miller said being an auto mechanic isn't the most glamorous job and that every technician will tell you "don't do it." But he doesn't regret entering the field.

"If you actually like working on cars, you won't work a day in your life," he said. "It's a good way to get by. If you put your mind to it and work hard, you can make a lot of money."

As he spoke, he could hear cars driving by in the background. In 2010, USA Today reported there were roughly 210 million licensed drivers in the United States. Their cars will have problems. And while robotics are improving, particularly in manufacturing and engineering, sometimes it takes two human hands and two human eyes.

"Someone's going to have to fix their car," Miller said. "Robots cannot do everything."