FLEMINGTON, NJ – Austin Tarby and Patrick Willey, both seniors from Hunterdon County Polytech Career and Technical School, placed second in the National Automotive Technical Competition, held earlier this month as part of the New York International Auto Show.
Included in their award packages are multiple scholarship offers to continue their post-secondary training, a selection of Snap-on Tools and a Snap-on toolbox, and trophies to add to their growing collection.
The competition brought together student teams from nearly 30 American states and Canadian provinces that had already advanced past their peers in local competition. Tarby and Willey earned their spot at nationals with a win in January at the New Jersey Auto Tech Competition, sponsored by the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJ CAR).
Both Tarby and Willey plan to take advantage of scholarships they received as part of their award package. Tarby will apply a $10,000 scholarship at the University of Northwestern Ohio. Willey will apply a $12,500 scholarship at the Universal Technical Institute. They will both study automotive and diesel before pursuing careers in the industry.
Tarby and Willey excelled as a team this year largely because they worked after school hours with their instructor, Christopher Scheuerman. Scheuerman volunteered his time two nights a week in the fall, then increased it to three nights a week in January, to help Tarby and Willey further their learning and hands-on application of their knowledge.
The practice paid off. At nationals, the duo worked for more than six hours on vehicle diagnostics and repair. They performed exceptionally well in the hands-on portions of the competition, especially the STEM and electricity tasks.
Tarby and Willey knew going into the national competition that they would be working on a Lexus. Tri-State Luxury Collection President Bill Berardino and COO of Fixed Operations Roger Pittman, along with Lexus of Bridgewater Service Manager Ron Gwinnett, lent Polytech a 2019 Lexus ES350 and scanning tool for Tarby and Willey to practice on in their shop for six weeks prior to the competition. Fred Beans Toyota of Flemington Service Manager Robert Swistack, as well as technicians at the dealership, further supported Tarby and Willey by allowing them to gain hands-on technical training alongside professional automotive technicians.
“This win was certainly a team effort,” Scheuerman said. “However, Austin and Patrick took advantage of every opportunity presented to them to develop their skills. They truly deserve this recognition.”
“Mr. Scheuerman cares about our experience, our education and our passion,” Tarby said. “We have also benefitted from our Polytech experience, because we have had the equipment, software, tools, lifts and everything else we have needed to get real work experience. I walked into a job and was able to say ‘yes’ to all the things they wanted to know if I could do.”
Tarby currently works for Rossi Chevrolet, and Willey works for American Tire. They will both graduate from Polytech’s two-year Automotive Technology program at the end of this academic year. Polytech’s program allows students to study all eight areas of the automobile and offers seniors an internship with the Flemington Car & Truck Country Family of Brands. Graduates walk away prepared to enter the workforce.