Auto tech students
Auto tech students take prizes at annual competition
Several students in the Automotive Technology class at the Center for Career Services in Valhalla have an interest in the automobile industry and plan to pursue careers in this field. For four students, their interest was further piqued after their success at a recent competition sponsored by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association held Jan. 9.
Teammates Jeffrey Fernandes and Gurleen Singh took home a fourth-place prize. In addition to a trophy, the two were also the recipient of scholarships.
Joining them in the winner’s circle were teammates Alex Amato and Thomas Tassone, who were awarded a fifth-place prize, which also includes scholarships as part of the prize.
The four joined teams consisting of high school seniors from around the state. They were tested on, among other things, diagnostics, simulations and hands-on work. In each area the competitors had 15 minutes to complete their work, said Alex, a senior at White Plains High School.
“We were actually really surprised,” Singh, a senior at Woodlands High School, said of doing so well.
“There were certain stations that were very hard and we didn’t think we did well,” added Fernandes, a senior at Byram Hills High School.
Their teachers, Mike Ward and Peter Schwartzott, had confidence in their abilities. The students were hand-picked by their instructors to compete.
“All are good students,” Mr. Schwartzott said. “Regardless of how they finish, the students are getting experience, and they all know if they don’t win in the competition, they’ve been chosen out of hundreds of students and they are already at the top of their class.”
“They are all good guys,” agreed Mr. Ward. “They all had fun, and that’s what counts.”
Jeffrey and Gurleen were featured in a segment with Eyewitness News’ NJ Burkett. The report noted how there is currently a shortage of auto technicians, a term now used instead of mechanic due to the increase in technology used in automobile manufacturing and operation.
“Technology has changed, so you’re not just turning a wrench,” Mark Schienberg of GNYAD told Burkett. “There’s more computer technology in these cars than there are on rocket ships that landed on the moon.”
Tassone, a senior at White Plains High School, who has an affinity for Corvettes, agreed he and his classmates fared better than he thought they would.
“We didn’t know how it was going to be. We got there and it was more involved than we expected,” he said.
His interest in cars inspired him to take the auto technology course.
“It’s satisfying when what you fixed works after,” he said.
Among the work he has done in class includes a full brake job and repairing the universal joints on his dad’s truck.
“It’s good instruction,” he said of his classes at the Center for Career Services, “all the tools are there and the teachers are helpful.”
Following graduation Tassone intends to attend Rockland Community College’s Herbert Kurz Automotive Program. He would also like to earn a bachelor’s degree at SUNY Morrisville and one day work for a dealer or get involved in car racing.
Gurleen has plans to go to college and would like to eventually open his own shop. “I definitely know how to work on cars now,” he said.
“We’ve experienced being under pressure,” Jeffrey said of how the competition helped him with his work.
Mr. Schwartzott said the students will be able to use their competition experience as they go on to apply to college and look for a job.
“The ultimate goal is to make these guys employable,” he said. “I call it the ‘School of Work.’ It makes the transition easy,” he added of having taken the Auto Tech courses.
Students are taught the fundamentals, he said, as well as all the latest technology.