O’Brien Tech students top state auto competition

Daniel Tatun and Mike Altman are headed to a national auto tech competition.

Daniel Tatun and Mike Altman are headed to a national auto tech competition.

Daniel Tatun of Shelton and Mike Altman of Ansonia each have been awarded $5,000 scholarships from Universal Technical Institute (UTI) for winning first place in the Connecticut Auto Dealers Association Auto-Tech Competition.

The two are students at Emmett O’Brien Vocational Technical High School in Ansonia. The scholarship can be used to attend a UTI school, including those in Boston and Philadelphia in the Northeast.

Crowley Ford in Plainville hosted the Connecticut Auto Dealers Association Auto-Tech Competition on Jan. 29, during which student teams from voc-tech high schools competed in a series of automotive technical challenges. The students had to find and fix a number of problems in a car within a specified timeframe.

Now will compete in national event

Tatun and Altman now will be one of 30 teams from across the United States and Canada to compete at the National Automotive Technology Competition in New York City on April 2 and 3.

Ignacio Vega, who heads the Automotive Technology department at Emmett O’Brien, said students are selected by instructors for the competition and train for months to prepare. “This kind of competition motivates students and gives them the hands-on experience needed to learn technical skills,” Vega said.

Auto techs are in demand

Crowley Ford dealership owner Ken Crowley, and service and parts director Gary Stebbins, worked with both the Connecticut Auto Dealers Association and Larry Eiden, a retired educator in the state vocational school system, to facilitate the event.

“There’s a need for qualified auto technicians who are trained to work with the complex systems and components in today’s cars,” Stebbins said.

Awards being presented to winners

Dan Thibault, state coordinator for the automotive technology program in Connecticut’s vocational school system, will present the scholarship awards to the students, along with UTI admissions representative Mike Balthazzr.

“It’s a pleasure and a privilege to watch these students work and compete,” Balthazzr said.

UTI offered $18,000 in scholarships to the top three teams in the Connecticut Auto Dealers Competition, including $10,000 in scholarships for the first-place winning team.

About Universal Technical Institute

Each year, UTI sponsors and awards approximately $10 million in tuition scholarships and participates in numerous high school competition programs, including the National Automotive Technology Competition.

The Arizona-based UTI offers programs for individuals seeking careers as professional automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians. Students can earn undergraduate degree, diploma and certificate programs at 11 campuses in the United States as well as manufacturer-specific training programs at dedicated training centers.

More than 160,000 people have graduated from UTI programs in the company’s 47-year history. Learn more at www.uti.edu.

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