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Finalists for FutureTechs Rock Awards Announced

TechForce Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2020 FutureTechs Rock Awards and has opened the grand prize public vote.

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The 2020 finalists each represent a distinct technical education discipline. They include:

  • Collision repair – Samantha Welch, GST BOCES Cooper Campus. Welch was recently selected as the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s student of the year. She is a member of the National Technical Honor Society and volunteers with her campus’ student government. She also won first place overall in a recent regional SkillsUSA competition, and placed in the national competition.
  • Automotive – Meng Yang, Long Beach City College. Yang was raised in foster care and now mentors students entering college from both the foster care and criminal justice systems. He is pursuing a dual major and has earned academic accolades, including recognition from his school’s Board of Trustees.
  • Aviation – Damen Martin, Upper Bucks County Technical School. Flying and working on planes are Martin’s main passions. He is driven to learn everything he can about engines, even once going so far as to buy an engine block from a scrap yard just to take it apart and put it back together again.
  • Diesel Off-Road – Danny Gonzalez, Salina Area Technical College. Gonzalez’s nomination praised his determination and resilience. He was once faced with rebuilding an international, out-of-production tractor engine. With no manual to reference, he contacted shops across the country to source the right parts and accomplish what many considered a near impossible task.
  • Diesel On-Road – Christian Hill, University of Northwestern Ohio. Hill earned a Class A CDL at age 19 so he could better serve the customers in the shop where he works. He has used the CDL to test his work, pick up customer equipment and even haul loads get a better idea of what truck drivers experience. He is now helping his team – many of them older than himself – earn CDLs of their own.
  • Motorcycle & ATV – Nicholas DiBartolo, Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. DiBartolo has restored, repaired and revived a number of vehicles. He dreams of owning a mobile motorcycle repair business to bring his skills and passion to others.
  • Motorsports – Franklin Forman, University of Northwester Ohio. Forman earned an associate’s degree with honors in automotive and high performance technology, and is now pursuing a bachelor’s in automotive technology supervision. Forman took first place in his local, regional and state SkillsUSA competitions, and placed third at the national competition.
  • Restoration – Kassidy Nixon, Central Carolina Community College. Nixon is a straight-A student who will earn both her high school and automotive restoration diploma later this year. She plans to turn her passion for restoration into a career as a technician, with the goal of ultimately own her own custom shop to share her passion for classic vehicles with the next generation.
  • Welding & CNC – Griffin Howland, Pickens County Career and Technology College. As a senior in high school, Howland is proficient in SMAW, GTAW, GMAW and FCAW welding processes with multiple materials, as well as OSHA 10 Certified. His drive and motivation is unmatched and is evidenced by constantly trying to polish his skills outside of the classroom through various welding projects.

As a nonprofit dedicated to helping student techs achieve their professional dreams, TechForce created this prestigious award to honor their student community and recognize those who have a promising future and will shape the transportation industry.


The FutureTechs Rock Awards are part of TechForce Foundation’s workforce development initiative to help inspire and support tomorrow’s workforce of technicians. The initiative is sponsored by industry partners, including Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, CarMax, FedEx Freight, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nissan North America, Penske Truck Leasing, Shell Pennzoil, Snap-on, Toyota USA Foundation, Universal Technical Institute and WD-40.

Finalists were selected from eligible nominations by industry expert judges. Each will receive an AutoZone gift card, Duralast tool set, online subscription to Haynes Manuals, Ford Professional tools and ASE study guides from Cengage Learning. One finalist will be chosen as grand prize winner by public vote and will receive additional prizes including a $1,000 TechForce Scholarship and an iPad Air from Ford Motor Company.


Meet the finalists and vote for the grand prize winner at Voting is open through April 10, 2020 at 4 p.m. PDT.

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