Hunterdon County Polytech Career & Technical School seniors David Rodrigues and Joseph Valko won fourth place in the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) Top Tech Challenge, held last month at the Bloomfield campus of the Institute. They entered the event confident that they could take what they had learned through 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 practice for the Top Tech Challenge with instructor Christopher Scheuerman, according to the school.
Rodrigues says that even without the full training, he felt prepared thanks to the focused and hands-on learning he experiences in his Polytech classroom.
“We learned a lot at Polytech,” he says. “I wouldn’t have known about the competition stations if I hadn’t learned about it here first. My favorite thing about Polytech is the workshop days and being able to work on the cars… and being able to learn just about anything about a car.
Rodrigues and Valko competed against 31 other teams to complete practical tasks at five stations testing their technical knowledge and skills with the engine, brakes, tool and part identification, electrical and scan tool. They also answered a quiz of 50 questions.
Their victory came with a Snap On roll cart toolkit and 25% scholarships to 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, allowing him to work while attending high school to enhance the hands-on learning he receives in his area of interest.
Scheuerman says Rodrigues and Valko are in the top 5% of their class and are both headed for bright futures because they work hard at everything they do.
Hunterdon County Polytech Career & Technical High School is the district’s timeshare high school that prepares students for a smooth transition into college and career paths. HCVSD also operates a school of adult and continuing education and three secondary science academies: the Academy of Biomedical Sciences, the Academy of Computer Science and Applied Engineering, and the Academy of Environmental Sustainability and Engineering. . Learn more aboutwww.hcvsd.org.