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Bruins race to fourth place in automotive competition

Alex Siegenthaler works on his car before school. Photo by Salvatore Ginexi

Mech-savvy Bear River seniors Alex Siegenthaler and Sean Cullers took fourth place in the automotive section of The Top Tech Challenge on January 25th, and got a $1,000 scholarship each, passing up 15 teams from opposing schools. 

For the challenge, the first place winning team received $10,000 scholarships for each member, second place received $7,000 scholarships, third place got $5,000, and fourth through tenth place got $1,000.

At the beginning of the school year, Mrs. Noah invited a recruiter from Universal Tech Institute to her english class, which quickly led to an interview at the Siegenthaler’s home over dinner, which led to the boys participation in the Top Tech Challenge. Alex’s mother Julie Siegenthaler has been a supporter of his mechanical hobbies since he was four, and after hosting the UTI interviewer at her home, she worked to get Alex into the challenge and knew her son could find a career there.

 “They made a great team at the Top Tech Challenge and the instructor for the electronics portion of the test told Alex that he and Sean had come the closest out of all the teams to completing it.” She said, “That portion was neither completed this year, nor last year, and is very difficult.”

Siegenthaler and Cullers intend to use their $1,000 scholarships to further their academic career surrounding mechanics, and even want to go to Universal Technical Institute together in fall of 2020.  

Cullers was recently accepted  into UTI, and will use his college experience to learn the ins and outs of mechanics, as he has already devoted many hours to it, and intends to pursue mechanics as both a career and hobby.

“UTI is the number one college I wanted, and there really aren’t many other options that could do as good a job for me to prepare me for my future career. ,” he said. 

The total of twenty schools from Northern California and Nevada participating in the competition each had some sort of automotive program held at the school to get them involved in the challenge, and teach them about mechanics, except for Bear River. While the boys bring a lot of natural talent and interest to the table for mechanics, they also owe a lot of their knowledge to Dave Cullers, Sean’s father, who has spent hours teaching and working alongside the boys on their rebuild of a Chevy Blazer from the ground up.

The top three teams in the competition received trophies made of car parts, and were invited to participate once again in the next challenge taking place on February 8th. The Top tech Challenge consisted of two written tests and several practical tests. The first written tests had the contestants identify car parts, and the other had them choose a correct scenario surrounding a car’s problems. The physical part of the test required the contestants to measure brake pads, use a scan tool to diagnose problems with a vehicle, and set up the electric wiring for headlights. 

Not a single team in the automotive section of the competition was able to set up the wiring for the vehicle’s headlights, but after the conclusion of the challenge, the supervisors informed Siegenthaler and Cullers that they came the closest to correctly setting up the headlights. This is a great attribute to their skills, and drew more recruiters from UTI to recognize their talent and offer them opportunities. 

Alex has been interested in anything mechanic since he was four years old, and attributes his extensive knowledge of mechanics to his willingness just to mess around with everything. 

“Sean and I are crazy good at mechanics for our age, and it’s pretty disappointing that we can’t do very much with auto mechanics at Bear River outside of Ag Mechanics, and even that’s pretty limited. But we’ve essentially taught ourselves, with the help of Sean’s dad Dave,” he said.

Sean Cullers’ and Alex Siegenthaler’s placing over so many formally taught teams with specialized instructors was truly an underdog victory, and shows the great skills of our very own automotive addicts.

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Bruins race to fourth place in automotive competition