NASCAR Technical Institute (NASCAR Tech), a division of Universal Technical Institute, Inc (NYSE: UTI) and a leading workforce solutions provider of transportation and skilled trades education programs, welcomed high school students from around the region to compete for a total of $76,000 in grants using in-demand automotive technology skills and knowledge in two separate competitions, the Top Tech Challenge and the Auto Tech Challenge.
Teams from the Carolinas and the surrounding region went head-to-head at the campus on Saturday, February 11 for the Top Tech Challenge, competing in both hands-on and written tests on vehicle parts, engines, diagnostics and electrical systems using NASCAR Tech’s state-of-the-industry facility and equipment. Each student placing on a top 10 team won a UTI tuition grant ranging from $10,000 for first place to $1,000 for a fourth through 10th place finish.
Students on the winning team of two, Joshua Suarez and Noah Fox from South Iredell High School, demonstrated proficiency in all competitive areas. They can now advance their skill sets by utilizing their $10,000 UTI grant at one of 16 UTI, MMI, NASCAR Technical Institute or MIAT-branded campuses nationwide.
Tanner Goodwin and Axel Garcia from Hamilton Career and Technology Center finished second, each walking away with a $7,5000 grant, and Skyler Smith and Brighton Smith of North Iredell High School came in third, winning $5,000 grants.
“We congratulate all the competitors who participated in this years’ Top Tech and Auto Tech Challenges,” said Robert Kessler, campus president at NASCAR Technical Institute. “These competitions and opportunities provide invaluable exposure to real-world, future automotive careers. We are pleased to have welcomed these students onto our campus and were impressed by their initiative to explore these growing industries.”
In its second year, the Auto Tech Challenge allows academic students without a traditional vocational education to compete individually for grants. Angel Ramirez from Davidson Early College High School took top honors in that competition, earning a $7,000 UTI grant. Hohverg Palacios-Poxtan from Smoky Mountain High School placed second for a $5,000 grant, and Gavin Edwards of East Davidson High School came in third, winning a $3,000 grant.
The automotive industry is projected to experience increased demand for highly trained professionals due to growth, net replacements and retirements from the trade. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, the transportation industry will have to fill more than 101,000 combined auto and diesel technician job openings annually on average through 2031.