New Automotive Teacher: Meet Bertrand Potts Bringing decades of training and experience to the Automotive program

Running an engine inspection on an old Mac truck, the new automotive instructor, Bertrand Potts started in the automotive trade right out of high school and quickly progressed in the field. “I was the North American Feild Team Leader, testing out oil formulations in trucks, busses, boats, you name it.  I was in charge of testing different oils in field-applications” Potts said. Photo Credit: Bertrand Potts

From experimenting with motor oil to working on navy submarines, the new automotive instructor, Bertrand Potts has a long history of schooling and career work in his field.

“I have been in the automotive industry for 30 years,” Potts said “I really love this industry because it has so many different options and denominations that you can choose from. Automotive is a really good skill to learn because it gives you a job to always fall back on.”

 Starting his career in marine sciences and oceanography, Potts quickly realized his passion for servicing and repairing engines when attending trade school.

“I initially went to CTE which we used to call vocational school. They had marine sciences and oceanography there,” Potts said. “I started on that career path and realized that it wasn’t for me. So I switched over to marine trades. I worked on an old 72-foot navy sub-chaser with eight engines in it. I also took many naval science classes, learning the history of the navy and our country.” 

After his vocational schooling, Potts decided to pursue his interest in engine repair and begin his life-long application to the automotive trade.

“I attended the Engine City Technical Institute, which is similar to Lincoln Tech. It was a one-year diesel, drivetrain, and brakes course. Upon graduation from there, I was asked to work with ExxonMobil. They had a research and development camp in Lington, New Jersey where I started in their engine laboratory, mainly experimenting with oil formulations.

It’s not just about swinging a wrench, there are so many different things involved in this industry and you can do so much with the information from this course.

After spending three years testing and formulating motor oils, Potts took a job experimenting with new chemical dispersant technologies.

“I was apart of the ultra-low vacuum distillation unit. We would mix all of these nasty chemicals together to create a backbone polymer and dispersant,” Potts said. “But all of those nasty chemicals had to come out, so you would distill them. The distillation was a whole long chemical process and understanding the mechanics of all this was bewildering to me because I had been working with them for a while, but I worked on engines. This was more scientific and definitely a huge learning curve for me.”

Twelve years ago, Potts made the decision to move to Las Vegas in search of more unique job opportunities, and in 2008, he decided to take a new step in his career.

“When I moved to Vegas, I decided to create my own supply chain management company that serviced trucks for big transportation businesses like FedEx. It was a big change in owning a business, but was a really fun experience.”

The best part for me is that I can pass my knowledge to help students in the future.

 Amidst the pandemic, Potts was looking for a new occupation and was thrilled when he was offered a unique and exciting new job to teach.

“I was super excited when I was offered a teaching position here at Southwest,” Potts said. “It was a passion of mine and something that I had always wanted to do. I have a lot of experience and I want to pass it on. It’s not just about swinging a wrench, there are so many different things involved in this industry and you can do so much with the information from this course.”

Potts was excited to work with students because it would be his first-ever certified teaching experience. With the class being online this year, Potts is disappointed that his students will not be able to work in the shop, but has planned other ways for students to gain real-world learning and experience.

“My good friend who is head of the API (American Petroleum Institute) has offered to give my students a virtual tour of their factory to show how oil is formulated and why it is made. I think this will be more engaging and fun than the usual online lessons.”

Potts believes that sharing his information and expertise will better the skills of his students and open up many opportunities for them.

“The best part for me is that I can pass my knowledge to help students in the future. As I like to say, knowledge is power, and it’s portable. You can take it wherever you go.”