Seniors from a Jamaica high school win top prizes at a Whitestone auto repair competition

Lead photo courtesy of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association (GNYADA) with photos by Jenna Bagcal/QNS

Students from a Jamaica technical education high school cinched the top two prizes at the 30th annual New York City Auto Tech Competition in Whitestone.

Thomas A. Edison High School seniors Omesh Deaudharrie and Brian Persaud showcased their car repair mastery on Jan. 8, earning the top honors and $25,000 each in scholarships. Second-place winners and fellow Thomas Edison students Bryan Jean Louis and Felix Mercado and third-place finishers Leon Boodram and Vishnu Sawh from A-Tech High School in Brooklyn also earned scholarships.

During the competition, Deaudharrie and Persaud correctly diagnosed and fixed pre-programmed bugs in a Mazda in the shortest time and claimed victory as the city’s top auto technician students. Thomas Edison Coach Miguel Sierra managed and helped train both of the school’s competing teams.

The six students earned a trip to the state finals in February, affording them the chance to represent New York nationally at the New York International Auto Show in April, when 29 teams from across the country and Canada will compete for the chance to win $3 million in prizes and scholarships.

The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association-sponsored competition took place at the Center for Automotive Education and Training in Whitestone, where 20 teams of seniors from career and technical education (CTE) schools in New York City, Rockland and Westchester Counties fixed real engine and car parts at 15 work stations as part of this timed competition.

“Each work station is a different skill set and it would be anything that they would have to do at a dealership. We have wheel alignment, basic electrical, tool identification, engine repair,” said GNYADA Executive President Eddie Gazzillo. “We try to push them a little bit further than what they’re doing at their regular schools.”

Queens Village resident Jean Louis said that Sierra prepared them well, so they knew what to expect on competition day.

“We’ve been training for this competition since school started in September,” he said. His teammate Mercado added that they clocked in more than 20 training hours at home and at school.

“At school, we would work on cars and when we went home we had a [website], Electude, that has courses you can take,” said Mercado. “After school, we used to meet up when our instructor had time. We’d meet up with him and we’d go over anything and everything that we could in that short amount of time.”

Both of the students said that they intend to pursue a career in the auto industry once they graduate high school. According to GNYADA, there will be approximately 75,000 open auto tech jobs in the coming years. The skills the students displayed will help them as future auto technicians, who can earn upwards of $100,000 working at dealerships across the region.

More from Around New York