David Vecchiarelli, left, and Christopher Giuga show off the hardware they won at the Canadian International Auto Show. Photo by Stephanie Lake, Centennial College

Br. André students put skills into overdrive

By 
  • March 24, 2018

Hard work pays off. It can also get you an all expenses paid trip to New York City.

Last month, two Grade 12 students from St. Brother André Catholic Secondary School in Markham, Ont., put their automotive repair skills to the test during the Canadian International Auto Show and won first prize at the TADA skills competition held at Centennial College. This is the second consecutive year that students from Br. André have won first prize. 

The winners, David Vecchiarelli and Christopher Giuga, will represent their school and country at the National Automotive Technology Competition in New York City on April 3.

“It was pure shock and satisfaction,” said Vecchiarelli, 17. “We put so many hours into training for this competition so when we heard we got first place, it felt so satisfying.”

Participants from 18 high schools had two hours to perform several technical tasks on a series of new Volkswagen Tiguans that had been rigged with similar operating problems by automotive instructors from Centennial College. For Vecchiarelli and Giuga, who met in a Grade 9 transportation class, working as a team helped them stay focused and calm in a high pressure situation. 

“We are both very mechanically skilled and are good at motivating each other,” said Giuga, 17. “When we’re working together we are very efficient and can communicate well.” 

Eugene Pivato, the principal at Br. André, was “thrilled” by the students’ accomplishment.

“We try to teach our students Catholic virtues in everything we do here,” he said. “In transportation, teamwork, safety and the overall concern for others’ well-being is imperative. We strive to be living reflections of Christ. I think these boys are great examples of that.”

In the months leading up to the competition, Giuga and Vecchiarelli practised as often as they could, working on any cars they could get their hands on. Their transportation teacher, Jason Rehel, helped get them practice time at a local Volkswagen dealer. 

“We started preparing five months before the competition. The boys would go to the dealership after school for two or three hours to practice and train,” said Rehel, a licensed mechanic. 

“It’s great real-life experience for them. They can do basic repairs like oil changes and tire rotations all the way up to tune-ups and restarts.” 

Giuga and Vecchiarelli have applied to the Automotive Engineering Program at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. 

 “The technology of the auto industry today requires students to have diverse knowledge and skill base,” sid Pivato. “It makes me happy to see kids getting that at our school. It’s nice to know they have a successful future ahead of them.”

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It’s great real-life experience for them.

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