Lucia Mulder

This year, Berkshire had a special guest judge at its annual Expo Night, a showcase of student work in engineering and sustainability. YouTuber and famed DIY mechanic, Rich Benoit opened the evening with a talk about his passion, rebuilding Tesla cars. 

Rich Benoit (center) with engineering instructor Ben Urmston and Science Department Chair April Burch

Benoit hosts the YouTube channel Rich Rebuilds, where he documents his experiences repairing and restoring electric vehicles. “Rich Benoit is a self-taught, real-life hacker, tinkerer, and contrarian,” said Science Department Chair Dr. April Burch, who invited Benoit to Berkshire. “He believes firmly in teaching and empowering others on the importance and benefits of recycle/reuse/repurpose.”

Benoit was born in Massachusetts, attended Harvard for two years, and graduated with a degree in computer science from Suffolk University. “He was very real about his struggles in high school,” said Burch, “and had a great rapport with the students.” 

As the semester’s culminating project, students present their work to the community during Expo Night at tables in the Bellas/Dixon lobby. Benoit kicked off the event with his talk in Crawford Lecture Hall. He then stayed to help science department faculty judge student work. Winners will be announced after the winter break.  

“Don't be scared to take a chance at something, no matter how big or small--it could be life-changing,” Benoit said when asked to cite one major takeaway for students. “And if someone says you can't do something ... just laugh ... and do it.”

Tesla's electric cars are difficult to repair, and the company doesn’t make it easy to do so, since they don’t authorize many independent repair shops, and purchasing replacement parts can be difficult, Benoit says. So, he took matters into his own hands last year by completely rebuilding a Tesla Model S that had been submerged in salt water, with parts from a second Tesla purchased for the endeavor. He learned so much through the rebuilding process, that he decided to start the YouTube channel to demystify the cars and teach others how to service and repair their own vehicles. His next goal is to open his own repair shop for the Tesla community and build upon the growing momentum of the electric car industry through education and workshops. 

As far as a message to Berkshire’s science students? Benoit had some great, enduring advice: “What you love now may not be what you love tomorrow. Always continue to search for your passion and never be satisfied with what you know. Keep the thirst to learn more about the world around you, and follow those who inspire you.”