By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — A high school student at Shenendehowa recently made his mark in a national automotive competition.
Vincent Degni, a senior at Shen who is also a student at the Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School, finished among the top 20 teams in the National Automotive Technology Competition in New York City. Degni, a Clifton Park resident, competed with his team against 29 other teams on April 17 at the Javits Center, and worked in front of judges to demonstrate his skills in areas including automotive computer diagnostics, engines, and technology.
At first, Degni said, the competition was nerve-wracking. Taking place over three days, and the first day of the timed competition consisted of workstations that included job interviews, engine checking, electronic wiring, and tire balancing. A judge stood over Degni and graded him on his efforts. Once he got through the first station, Degni said, he became more comfortable.
On the second day, Degni was presented with a vehicle that had multiple issues, such non-working taillights and window washers, an unplugged horn, and a blinking “check engine” light. A mediator was present during the second day, and while Degni said that competitors were allowed to ask questions, the mediator wasn’t necessarily allowed to answer them.
“You have to go through and use the service information for that make of the vehicle, and you have to perform wiring tasks,” Degni said.
Degni was one of two students selected to compete this year. His teammate, Elison Foronda, is a senior at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk.
After being selected, the competitors are sent information about the cars that they will be working on during the competition. Degni spent time training with representatives of Destination Kia. prior to the competition. He said that the hands-on training with Kia was what led to his success at the competition, and said it was an invaluable experience.
“They pretty much trained us for a month and a half,” Degni said. “You definitely learn a lot in a short amount of time.”
Degni is planning on study aviation mechanics in college, and noted that he has always been interested in airplanes. Being able to compete at the Javits Center was an important experience for him, he said, because it forced him out of his comfort zone.
He also appreciated the practical training he received from working with professionals, due to the fact that he acquired skills that he plans on using for the rest of his life. Now that cars are quickly becoming more technology based and driven, Degni said, it’s necessary to learn the skills needed to keep up.
“That was definitely an experience that I’ll never forget,” he said.
This year was the highest that the Capital Region BOCES CTE has placed in three years.