Bucks Tech Students win Auto Competition

Seniors Eric Harlan, of Bristol Township, and Dominic Carbone, of Falls, are the first pair from the Bristol Township school to win the Greater Philadelphia Automotive Technology competition.

A keen knack for trou­bleshoot­ing cars has earned two Bucks County Technical High School seniors some pres­ti­gious recog­ni­tion and a fair­ly mas­sive haul of prizes.

Working togeth­er as a pair, Eric Harlan and Dominic Carbone recent­ly became the first team from the Bristol Township school to win the Greater Philadelphia Automotive Technology competition.

Eric and Dominic topped 11 oth­er two-person teams from tech­ni­cal schools through­out the Delaware Valley in the con­test held at the Automotive Training Center in Warminster.

For the vic­to­ry, each stu­dent won $130,000 in schol­ar­ships they can use if they choose at var­i­ous high­er edu­ca­tion tech­ni­cal schools around the area and coun­try, $930 worth of new tools, a $100 Visa gift card, $100 Home Depot gift card, $25 Iron Hill gift card and a duf­fel bag filled with $50.

And while a sub­se­quent trip to the nation­al com­pe­ti­tion in New York City saw them fin­ish out of the top 10, that didn’t dim the lus­ter of the ear­li­er win for either Eric or Dominic.

When I heard our names announced as the win­ners, I just said, ‘No, I can’t believe it,’” Dominic said.

Being the first at the school to achieve some­thing was a real charge, Eric added.

All our hard work prepar­ing paid off,” he said.

Several oth­er tech­ni­cal schools from Bucks and east­ern Montgomery coun­ties com­pet­ed at the Greater Philadelphia event, which is orga­nized by the Auto Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia, the group that runs the annu­al Philadelphia Auto Show. All com­peti­tors are seniors.

The Greater Philadelphia com­pe­ti­tion involved the teams spend­ing 20 min­utes each at 10 work sta­tions fix­ing prob­lems in dif­fer­ent parts of an auto­mo­bile, includ­ing the engine’s fuel and elec­tri­cal com­po­nents, sus­pen­sion sys­tem and many oth­ers. All teams also were giv­en a new vehi­cle and giv­en 45 min­utes to pre­pare it for sale, includ­ing diag­nos­ing any prob­lems and fix­ing them.

Eric and Dominic earned 1,261 points out of a pos­si­ble 1,500. Judges award­ed points for com­plet­ing tasks on time and for qual­i­ty of work but the biggest fac­tor was how care­ful­ly and accu­rate­ly the teams record­ed all their repairs, Auto Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia spokes­woman Andrea Simpson said.

Documentation is vital to all auto­mo­tive repairs and main­te­nance and there­fore, it’s vital to earn­ing points in our com­pe­ti­tion,” she said. “The major­i­ty of points are award­ed for the qual­i­ty of doc­u­men­ta­tion. Proper doc­u­men­ta­tion includes an expla­na­tion for each of the three Cs — con­cern, cause and correction.

For exam­ple, if a team finds and fix­es all the faults and gets the car start­ed but does not prop­er­ly com­plete the repair order by doc­u­ment­ing the three Cs for each fault, that team would earn only a frac­tion of the poten­tial points.”

Byron Cesari, Eric and Dominic’s auto­mo­tive tech­nol­o­gy instruc­tor at BCTHS, said the sky is the lim­it in the auto­mo­tive are­na for these two.

They are very good stu­dents, both very self con­fi­dent and self moti­vat­ed,” Cesari said.

Both already have worked exten­sive­ly as tech­ni­cians at the Colonial Nissan deal­er­ship in Lower Southampton. Eric still works there, almost 40 hours a week, and Dominic recent­ly left to accept anoth­er tech­ni­cian job at a Fred Beans deal­er­ship in Newtown Township.

Dominic has decid­ed to use the schol­ar­ship mon­ey he won to fur­ther his auto­mo­tive edu­ca­tion with a two-year pro­gram at Universal Technical Institute in Exton. Eric has cho­sen not to use his schol­ar­ship mon­ey but instead will attend Penn State-Abington to major in mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing for two years, and from there may con­tin­ue either at Abington or Penn State’s main cam­pus in an auto­mo­tive tech­nol­o­gy program.

Eric dreams of some­day being one of the lead­ing engi­neers at some­place like General Motors or Ford, while Dominic said he’d like to be an auto­mo­tive teacher, maybe at BCTHS.

Eric, 17, of Bristol Township, cred­its his father Bill — man­ag­er of a print­ing press com­pa­ny — with instill­ing with­in him a love of cars and fix­ing them.

Dad loved work­ing on cars as a hob­by,” Eric said. “I remem­ber when I was 5, he bought an old rust buck­et ’66 Chevelle and start­ed work­ing on it, and that’s how I got inter­est­ed. I would hang around the garage and ask how I could help, and he start­ed teach­ing me about tools and how to use them. It just grew from there and nev­er stopped.”

Dominic doesn’t have such a vivid mem­o­ry of how his love for cars started.

I’ve just always liked work­ing with my hands, doing things not every­body could do,” said Dominic, 17, of Falls. “When the time came, I enrolled in the auto­mo­tive pro­gram at Bucks, and here I am.”

Originally pub­lished in the Bucks County Courier Times April 24, 2018