March 27, 2023

Lakes Region Community College (LRCC) partnered with White Mountains Community College (WMCC), the NH Auto Dealers Association (NHADA) and SkillsUSA NH to host the first combined 2023 Transportation SkillsUSA Competition for high school students interested in automotive careers. On Friday, March 17, 40 students from high schools across the state motored to LRCC to showcase their skills in automotive service technology, maintenance and light repair, power equipment technology and diesel equipment technology competitions. Four finalists were awarded automotive scholarships, high-end toolboxes and advanced to the next round of the SkillsUSA national competition setting them on a pathway for an in-demand career.

SkillsUSA is a single-day, multiple-event contest that uses a wide variety of academic-based competitions and leadership activities for students to showcase their talents. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce by helping each student prepare for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations.

“Combining three different events into one this year was a collective effort throughout the community, and we are grateful for the many people and organizations that were involved in making this happen,” said Jamie Decato, LRCC associate professor of automotive technology and department chair for transportation technologies. “This SkillsUSA transportation competition is a pretty cool hands-on experience for high school students interested in an automotive career. We need skilled technicians in New Hampshire, and this paves the way for a rewarding career in a dynamic industry. The participants were really focused on what they’re doing and giving at their all. This event was a great success, and we were blown away by the talent of these students.”

Students traveled from 14 Career and Technical Education Centers (CTE) Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified high schools across the state for hands-on activities such as engine repair, circuit testing and brake inspection and measurement along with written tests and practice interviews. These skills challenges were judged by a panel composed of community college professors, industry professionals and employers.

“New Hampshire Auto Dealers is committed to supporting the automotive workforce and this SkillsUSA event helps us do just that by building a pipeline of students interested in the industry,” said Adam Memmolo, NHADA workforce development coordinator. “There is a huge shortage of technicians and events like this help us raise awareness of career opportunities while being an exciting hands-on event for the students. The competition provides them with a chance and opportunity to do something challenging, get out of the classroom and be a part of something big. Students that compete in SkillsUSA are the best of the best.”

Following the one-day event, 12 students were recognized on Saturday, March 18 at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro:  

Automotive Service Technology
Joseph Hagan, Portsmouth Career Technical Center (Portsmouth) – Gold
Colby Fresel, Portsmouth Career Technical Center (Portsmouth) – Silver
Evan Lenzi, Dover Career Technical Center (Dover) – Bronze

Automotive Maintenance Light Repair
Andrew Krause, Concord Regional Tech (Concord) – Gold
Trevor Latorella, Concord Regional Tech (Concord) – Silver
Riley Flynn, Concord Regional Tech (Concord) – Bronze

Diesel Equipment Technology
Ethan Lantz, Portsmouth Career Technical Center Portsmouth – Gold
Riley McMinn, Concord Regional Tech (Concord) – Silver
Austin Bouch, Concord Regional Tech (Concord) – Bronze

Power Equipment Technology
William Savage, Salem Hs Career & Technical Center (Salem) – Gold
Riley Mullen, Concord Regional Tech (Concord) – Silver
Joshua Chapman, Concord Regional Tech (Concord) – Bronze

The top four finalists from each category were awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the NH Auto Dealers Education Foundation to be used to attend a transportation program at one of New Hampshire’s community colleges, and $1,000 US General Toolbox and toolset. The finalists will advance to represent NH on the national stage at the National SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) taking place in Atlanta, Ga. June 19 – 23, 2023. The NLSC is a gathering of over 15,000 members and a showcase of more than 5,000 career and technical education students from across the country competing in over 100 categories of career, leadership and technical skills areas ranging from aviation to welding.

Sponsors for this event include LRCC, WMCC, NHADA, SkillsUSA NH, Nucar AutoMall Tilton, MB Tractor & Equipment, TMS Diesel and Kubota.