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Two Placer County high school students came out on top in the first Top Tech Challenge held recently at Universal Technical Institute (UTI)in Sacramento.ย 

The competition pitted high school teams from around Northern California and the Central Valley to test their knowledge of vehicle parts, diagnostics, brakes and electrical systems – all key elements  in which today’s automotive technician should be fluent. 


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Austin Williams and Trevor Befort, both seniors at Granite Bay High School who participate in the Placer County Office of Education’s “49er Regional Occupational Program” at Woodcreek High School, came in with the highest score during the day-long competition on Feb. 8.ย 

The pair beat out teams from around the state, including the second-place team from Brett Harte Union High School in Angel’s Camp and third-place finisher Orestimba High School in Newman. 

As the top finisher, the Placer County teens each won a $1,000 scholarship to UTI in Sacramento. Both Williams and Befort say they plan to attend UTI after graduating high school later this year. 

Second place team members, Brandon Pranes and Wyatt Kitchell, won $500 scholarships and third-place team members, Luis Medina and Diego Garcia, earned $250 scholarships. Instructors Ken Sooter of Brett Harte and Jaime Rico of Orestimba accompanied their students for the event. 

The Placer program is run by the Placer County Office of Education as part of its career training programs, where each program is hosted at one or more high schools in the county. At Woodcreek High School, instructor Mark Means heads up the Automotive Services/Automotive Technology program, which serves dozens of students from throughout high schools in the county. 

In addition to scholarships, the Placer County team won a large SNAP-ON Tool Box and tools, valued at $10,000, for their school’s program. 

“We are looking forward to hosting a second Top Tech Challenge next year,” said Tracy Kilby, Regional Director of Admissions for UTI’s Sacramento campus. “We had a great response this year and the students who attended performed very well throughout the competition.” 

Universal Technical Institute offers training for students seeking careers as professional automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians.

The core programs in Sacramento are: 

  • Automotive – The program teaches students how to diagnose, maintain and repair domestic and foreign automobiles.
  • Diesel & Industrial – The program teaches students the basic knowledge and skills to diagnose malfunctions in mechanical and electrical systems, and make necessary repairs and replacements on diesel engines, commercial vehicles and heavy equipment.
  • Automotive/Diesel & Industrial – The program provides students with every Automotive and Diesel & Industrial course, giving graduates the flexibility to qualify for positions in both industries.
  • Collision Repair & Refinish – The program teaches students the skills to repair and refinish collision-damaged vehicles.
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