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Force to be Reckoned

Kenton duo places in national auto tech event

It Kyle, Alex and their teacher, Gary Willis, at the national competition in New York not every day a team of two gets to compete in the national spotlight, but that is exactly what Erie 1 BOCES Kenton Career & Technical Center seniors Alex Prims and Kyle Huttenmaier got to do.

After claiming the top spot at the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association’s local Ron Smith Memorial Auto Tech Competition in January, the pair headed to the New York International Auto Show in New York City for the next level in automotive technology competitions. They ended up placing 14th in the nation.

“It was a really good experience,” Alex, a Tonawanda High School student, noted. “We met a lot of cool people from all over the country and saw how they do things compared to how we do things. These are kids sharing the same passion for working on cars, and it was cool knowing we’re all going to be working in the field most likely someday.”

The competition took place over the course of two days. The first day was the Workstation Challenge in which Alex and Kyle tapped into their knowledge of tools, measuring instruments, specific vehicle components and job interview skills. The next day, in a limited amount of time, the duo uncovered and repaired pre-assigned bugs under a BMW’s hood.

Both students said they would not be where they are without the support of their Kenton Auto Tech teacher, Gary Willis. Willis said he could not be more proud of his two students’ accomplishments thus far.

“Kyle and Alex have come a long way since they started my class as juniors,” he stated. “They are both very respectful young men and worked very hard these two years!”

With the competition behind them, Kyle, a Grand Island High School student, is focused on his apprenticeship at Paddock Chevrolet, which hired him after the local competition. Alex plans on attending post-secondary school.

“What’s nice about working on cars is that you can make money and do what you love at the same time,” Kyle pointed out. “You can also take these skills and pretty much go anywhere.”

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