2017-01-12 / Front Page

A winning team

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SRTC students earn scholarships, more
Staff Writer

SANFORD — Some students in Richard Couture’s automotive technology classes at Sanford Regional Technical Center will go on to careers in the field and some will find their way into different endeavors. But the skills they learn in the class — electronics, hydraulics and more, all based on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — can translate into any number of career options.

Two students in the senior class, Timothy “T.J.” Brooks and Greg Sirois, both of Lebanon and seniors at Noble High School, demonstrated the skills they’ve learned last month at the Top Tech Challenge put on by Universal Technical Institute at their Norwood, Massachusetts, campus.

The team, one of more than 20 competing from all over New England, took second place in the competition. In so-doing, they each won a $7,500 scholarship to the school, and a snappy-looking blue Snap-On toolbox and tools for their classroom.

Each team was ranked based on its combined scores from a written test and four hands-on challenge stations that evaluated the students’ knowledge of automotive tools, vehicle parts, diagnostics, brakes and electrical systems.

They had 10 minutes for each hands-on skill, and 20 minutes for the written test, Brooks and Sirois said Wednesday.

After the tests, when the scores were added up and the awards began, the Sanford team was called to the stage.

Sirois said that’s when he realized “oh, this is real.”

“It was certainly an experience,” said Brooks of the competition.

Both said they’d spent about 1 1/2 hours brushing up on what they’d learned in class to prepare, but it was impossible to know what exactly the Top Tech Challenge competition would require of them.

UTI Regional Admissions Director Scott Adler said all four of the teams from Maine were in the top 10. One of the two teams from Portland Arts and Technology High School took the first place award, and a team from Lewiston High School was also among the winners.

UTI’s Top Tech Challenge allows students to test the knowledge and skills they’ve learned in their classes and to see first-hand how STEM principles are used in today’s high-tech transportation industry, where technicians are required to master the complex digital systems, said Adam Riggers, UTI field admissions representative.

Brooks plans to continue his education at Ohio Technical College, which he said offered to match the scholarship he won at the competition.

Sirois will follow a different path. He said he’s earned a scholarship and will attend Unity College,  where’s he plans to earn a degree in conservation law enforcement, with a view to entering the Maine Warden Service.

Before they graduate form high school, the two plan to compete again in the Automotive Service Technology competition at SkillsUSA.

This marks the first time Couture has sent a team to compete in the Top Tech Challenge.

Remarking on the depth of talent demonstrated by the students in his two automotive technology classes, Couture said he’ll be sending more than one team to future competitions.

“I preach to them ‘pay attention,'” Couture said of his students. “They paid attention, and it shows.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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