H. B. Ward Automotive Tech Students Sweep GNYADA Competition
Posted on February 27, 2012
Five young men, who love working on engines, had a date with destiny on Valentine's Day.
On February 14, these award-winning H. B. Ward Career and Technical Center (WCTC) Automotive Technology students competed in the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association's statewide troubleshooting competition in Whitestone, NY. Michael Rutkoski and Kevin Herrera (Mattituck-Cutchogue UFSD) placed first in the regional competition on January 12. Darin Davis (Eastport-South Manor CSD) and Drew Achilich (Riverhead CSD) won second place in the regional competition, and Christopher Steuerwald (Eastport-South Manor CSD) won the alternate challenge. On February 14th, all five competed in the statewide competition. The winners at this competition will compete in the nationals.
Michael Rutkoski and Kevin Herrera (Mattituck-Cutchogue UFSD) placed first in the regional competition.
Drew Achilich (Riverhead CSD) and Darin Davis (Eastport-South Manor CSD) won second place in the regional competition.
According to the GNYADA's website, “The National Automotive Technology Competition is a test of skill, a measure of knowledge, and a race against the clock--all rolled into one. It features hundreds of the nation's best high school automotive education students from across the country competing for the title of ‘The Nation's Best Automotive Technician’ . . . More than $3 million in prizes and scholarships will be awarded to participating students and schools. . . .”
This description is also true of both the regional and statewide competitions. To earn the right to compete at the state level, WCTC students had to compete against 28 other teams. The two teams worked their way through 12 different stations. They did diagnostic tests on the brakes, performed a 35-point inspection, checked the battery and fluids, checked electrical systems, identified tools, measured bolts, and more. The first place winners earned 963 out of 1,000 points, and the second place team earned a total of 869 points.
"These competitions are a great way to earn both recognition and scholarships," explained Mike O'Hara, WCTC’s Automotive Technology instructor. "These students have already won scholarships along with their trophies. They will all have the opportunity to attend post-secondary training after high school pretty much tuition free. Eighty-five of my seniors are going on to secondary programs. Eight students are working at dealerships in the area through the AYES Internship Program and are paid $8 to $10 an hour. These guys were raised on computers, and that's what today’s automobiles are all about."
First place winner Michael Rutkoski, whose grandfather is Buzz Chew, owner of Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac, Inc. in Southampton, started working at his grandfather's dealership detailing cars when he was 14 years old. He plans to continue his studies in automotive technology at Lincoln Technical Institute next year and already has a $13,000 scholarship.
His teammate, Kevin Herrera, plans to attend the Toyota program at Suffolk County Community College. As part of the AYES Program, he currently interns at a Toyota dealership.
Both spoke enthusiastically about both the Automotive Technology program at WCTC and their teacher, Mike O'Hara.
"We have a great teacher," Michael stated. "Mr. O'Hara helps us out a ton!"
"And, it's a superior program," added Kevin. "I was in the Dental Assistant program before I switched to Automotive Technology," he shared. "Even though I came into the program not knowing anything about engines, I've learned a lot and am looking forward to becoming a mechanic. You can't ask for a better program than the one here at H. B. Ward."