Competition winners Evan Wagner, second from left, and John Deluca with their instructor Michael O'Hara, left, and Greater NY Automobile Dealers Association president Mark Schienberg. Courtesy photo: Greater NY Automobile Dealers Association

Two seniors at the H.B. Ward Technical Center in Riverhead finished in first place at the 2017 National Automotive Technology Competition.  John Deluca of Wading River and Evan Wagner of Manorville, who can now call themselves ‘America’s Top Technicians,’ were sponsored by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association and beat out 29 other teams from across the country to win the national competition.

It is the sixth time that a team from Greater New York has brought home the national title. It is also the second win for H.B. Ward Tech Center.

The National Automotive Technology Competition, which is the auto industry’s largest school-to-work initiative, pits the nation’s best high school automotive technology students against each other for the title. The national competition culminates with a three-hour, under-the-hood component where students diagnose and repair automobiles that are rigged with a variety of malfunctions. Students are also tested at 10 separate workstations, including job interviewing, CAN Bus (controller area network), STEM, brakes, wheel alignment and balance, wiring repair, information retrieval, hybrid vehicle repair, mechanical, and SP/2 shop safety.

Competition winners Evan Wagner and John Deluca at work. Courtesy photo: Greater NY Automobile Dealers Association

“High quality vocational training is a critical part of our nation’s education needs and this competition is designed to encourage more rigorous standards for vocational education,” Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association president Mark Schienberg said.

“Computer systems dominate today’s new cars so the students who make it to the finals of this competition have shown that they have an extraordinary ability to combine highly technical know-how with problem solving abilities,” Schienberg said. “We need these highly motivated and talented young people in dealerships across the country to make sure vehicle owners have access to technicians with the best computer and technical skills.”

The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association organizes and sponsors the annual competition, which takes place in conjunction with the New York International Automobile Show.

Each team of students is assigned an automobile that is rigged to malfunction in a number of ways. Using a repair order with actual customer complaints, the student teams must diagnose and repair the problem within the allotted time, using the manufacturer’s specialty tools. Each “bug” correctly diagnosed and repaired is worth a number of points, depending on the level of difficulty.

In addition, the students’ knowledge of emissions control systems, alignment, electrical test equipment, airbag components, oscilloscope usage and mechanical measurement equipment is tested during a series of intensive work station sessions. To prepare for the competition, students are trained at local new car dealerships and the skills they learn from master technicians prepare them to succeed in the working world.

The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association represents more than 400 franchised automobile dealerships in the metro New York area

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