By KELCY DOLAN
Two Warwick students, Justin Suttles and Shawn Teague, finished first in the 2015 Ocean State Automotive Technology Competition.
Every year the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT), along with the Rhode Island Automobile Dealers Association, hosts the statewide competition.
Students are chosen for the competition based on their grades and senior status. Shawn, from Pilgrim, and Justin, from Toll Gate, both in their final year of high school, have some of the top grades in their program.
“It was exciting to know that we were up against other kids who were the best in their programs, too,” Shawn said in an interview last week.
Bill Cilli, instructor for the Career Center’s Automotive Program, said both boys put in 20 to 30 hours of extra work to prepare for the competition.
“We would meet after school some days or on Saturdays when no one was around and they could really focus. They worked hard for this,” Cilli said.
Justin said that both he and Shawn had worked so hard they felt very confident at the beginning of the competition. Even if they were just a little nervous, they had “good standing” going in.
Justin believes more students could benefit from the center’s programs.
“Other students should want to be working with their hands, not just watching TV to learn something,” Justin said.
Shawn said, “More people should strive to be a part of this program. The workforce needs more people who are ready to work and have hands-on experience.”
As winners, Shawn and Justin received a Snap On toolkit and a paid trip to New York City to compete at the National Automotive Technology Competition on the weekend of April 6-8.
Cilli said that without NEIT’s help, his students, as well as others, wouldn’t ever have the chance to go to the national competition.
“New England Tech really stepped up for our students,” Cilli said. “They help give our students opportunities to be proud of their skills.”
Shawn and Justin also won $22,000 scholarships to NEIT.
“New England Tech was really encouraging and had really high standards during the competition. They have a great degree program.”
The two students and their instructor, Cilli, said that there would be a lot of practicing between now and the national competition.
To Read the entire story visit The Warwick Beacon: 1st place winners in automotive contest awarded scholarships – Warwick Beacon.