Nature Coast Students win scholarship at automotive technology competition

ORLANDO – A two man team from Nature Coast Technical High School, Braedon Santella and Devan Morgan recently placed 10th at the 2016 Top Tech Challenge hosted by Universal Technical Institute – Orlando. Twenty teams from 11 high schools around the state entered the competition, which tested prowess in automotive technology. For their 10th place finish, Santella and Morgan each received a $1,000 scholarship to the Universal Technical Institute in Orlando.

Their automotive instructor at NCT, Kevin Moglia explained that usually his students compete in the Ford AAA Auto Skills Competition. This year they decided to compete in the UTI Top Tech Challenge instead which provides scholarship opportunities to attend the institute. The competition was a learning experience for him as well as the students, so that next year they will be more familiar with what is expected at the competition. "It was a feeling out process, to be more prepared [for next year]," stated Moglia.

Moglia entered two teams from NCT into the competition. The other team, Brennan Myers, a junior, and Aris Langford-Jackson, a senior finished thirteenth overall. Moglia stated that Myers and Langford-Jackson work hand in hand everyday and complement each other well. As an upcoming senior, Myers intends to try again next year. He will also be able to help groom other students for the competition.

The teams competed in both written and hands-on testing of vehicle parts, brakes, diagnostics and electrical systems. “We love to see the passion that these students have for the automotive industry and we’re happy to facilitate this event that gives them the opportunity to put their skills to the test...,” said Steve McElfresh, UTI – Orlando campus president. “This hands-on experience shows students the high-tech training and technical knowledge required to work on today’s complex vehicles.”

Santella and Morgan hard at work during the 2016 Top Tech Challenge

Moglia explained that much of the testing was electrical based. Because of scheduling conflicts, neither Santella nor Morgan had a chance to take their instructor's automotive electric class, so that is the one area that the team struggled.

Santella stated that the competition was very challenging and pushed his skill to the limit. Santella works at the Tuffy Tire Center on US19. He is hoping to get a chance to continue with his technical education beyond high school.

Morgan said it was an honor to represent his school and explained that the competition was the toughest challenge he has faced in the automotive field. Morgan would like to attend the Motorcycle/Marine program at UTI.

The team that came in first hailed from Satellite High School, earning each student a $10,000 scholarship.

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