Hunterdon County Polytech Career & Technical School seniors David Rodrigues and Joseph Valko won 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 they could take what they have learned in Polytech’s Automotive Technology program and apply those skills in competition.
Rodrigues is enrolled in Automotive Technology I, and Joseph in Automotive Technology II. Due to scheduling conflicts, however, the team did not fully train for the Top Tech Challenge with instructor Christopher Scheuerman, according to the school.
Rodrigues says even without the full training, he felt prepared because of the focused, hands-on learning he experiences in his Polytech classroom.
“We’ve learned a lot of things at Polytech,” he said. “I wouldn’t have known the stations at the competition if I didn’t learn it here first. My favorite part of Polytech is the shop days and being able to work on the cars…and being able to learn pretty much everything about a car.”
Rodrigues and Valko competed together against 31 other teams to perform hands-on tasks in five stations testing their knowledge and technical skills with the engine, brakes, tool and part identification, electrical and scan tool. They also took a 50-question quiz.
Their win came with a Snap On roll cart toolbox and 25% scholarships to the Universal Technical Institute.
Rodrigues is committed to UTI and will study in the automotive program. As a Polytech student, he will receive an additional 10% scholarship to pursue this next phase of education and training. His goal is to maintain high grades to become eligible 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 automotive maintenance, oil changes, multi-point inspections, tires and basic repairs and recalls. His position at the dealership is a Structured Learning Experience through Polytech, which enables him to work while attending high school to enhance the hands-on learning he receives in his field of interest.
Scheuerman says Rodrigues and Valko are in the top 5% in their class and are both headed toward bright futures because they work hard at everything they do.
Hunterdon County Polytech Career & Technical High School is the district’s shared-time high school that prepares students for a seamless transition to college and career paths. HCVSD also operates an Adult & Continuing Education school and three science-based high school academies: the Biomedical Sciences Academy, the Computer Science & Applied Engineering Academy and the Environmental Sustainability & Engineering Academy. Learn more at www.hcvsd.org.