Hunterdon County Polytech Career & Technical School seniors David Rodrigues and Joseph Valko took fourth place at the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) Top Tech Challenge, held last month at the Institute’s Bloomfield Campus. They entered the event confident that they could apply what they learned in Polytech’s Automotive Technology program and apply these skills in competition.
Rodrigues is enrolled in Automotive Technology I, and Joseph in Automotive Technology II. However, due to scheduling conflicts, the team did not fully train for the Top Tech Challenge with instructor Christopher Scheuerman, according to the school.
Rodrigues says he felt prepared even without the full training because of the focused, hands-on learning he gains in his Polytech classroom.
“We learned a lot at Polytech,” he said. “If I hadn’t learned it here first, I wouldn’t have known the stations of the match. My favorite part of Polytech is the shopping days and the opportunity to work on the cars… and learn pretty much everything about a car.”
Rodrigues and Valko competed against 31 other teams to complete hands-on tasks in five stations to test their knowledge and technical skills with the engine, brakes, tool and part identification, electrical and scan tool. They also did a 50 question quiz.
Their win came with a Snap On roll cart toolbox and 25% grants to the Universal Technical Institute.
Rodrigues is committed to UTI and is going to study in the automotive program. As a Polytech student, he will receive an additional 10% scholarship to continue this next phase of education and training. His goal is to maintain high marks to qualify for the Institute’s Porsche program. Although he currently works at Rossi Chevrolet, his goal is to eventually work for Porsche.
Valko also plans to attend UTI and learn more in the Auto & Diesel program. He currently works at Ditschman/Flemington Ford as an express technician performing vehicle maintenance, oil changes, multi-point inspections, tires and basic repairs and recalls. His position at the dealership is a structured learning experience through Polytech, allowing him to work while attending high school to enhance the practical learning he receives in his area of interest.
Scheuerman says Rodrigues and Valko are in the top 5% of their class and are both on their way to a bright future because they work hard at everything they do.
Hunterdon County Polytech Career & Technical High School is the district’s shared high school that prepares students for a seamless transition into college and career paths. HCVSD also has an adult and continuing education school and three science-based high school academies: the Academy of Biomedical Sciences, the Academy of Computer Science and Applied Engineering, and the Academy of Environmental Sustainability & Engineering. More information onwww.hcvsd.org†