TechForce Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2021 FutureTechs Rock Awards and has opened the grand prize public vote. As a nonprofit dedicated to helping student techs achieve their professional dreams, TechForce created this prestigious award to honor the student community and recognize those who have a promising future and will shape the transportation industry.
The 2021 finalists each represent a distinct technical education discipline. The finalists include:
- Collision repair – Alfonso Porter, Universal Technical Institute Houston. Porter couldn’t decide on a career after his military service until someone asked him, “What would you do even if you weren’t paid?” He instantly knew he wanted to work on cars, and has overcome hardships including the 2021 Texas winter storm to pursue his technician career. Porter plans to one day open a shop of his own.
- Automotive – Jana Warnke, Clover Park Technical College. Warnke’s dream has always been to become an automotive technician, but she was discouraged from pursuing it her entire life. Now, after 18 years of raising a family through her husband’s military deployments and a recent battle with a serious illness, Warnke will be graduating technical school at the top of her class later this year.
- Aviation – Alexander Fernandez, St. Lucie West Centennial High School. Fernandez earned eight ASE certifications and the Yamaha ITOS certification this academic year, the most ever held by a student in his county. He has enlisted in the United States Navy as an aviation machinist’s mate, where he will earn experience and licenses that will one day launch his civilian aviation technician career.
- Diesel Off-Road – Wyatt Brink, Meridian High School. Brink has a passion for transportation. He has taken every shop class his school offers, works as a mechanic’s assistant and also participates in Future Farmers of America Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems competitions. Wyatt placed seventh in Washington State’s individual competition, and his team won the state and placed eighth nationally.
- Diesel On-Road – Brooklyn Booth, Great Oaks High School Live Oaks Campus. Booth has spent her senior year of high school working at a local Ford dealership, and is set to start an apprenticeship with one of the shop’s master diesel technicians after she graduates this spring. Booth has already earned a number of certifications and plans on attending a Ford ASSET program after her apprenticeship.
- Marine and Watercraft – Aaliyah Hickey, Chattanooga State Community College. Hickey is making waves, even in the first semester of school. She placed second in her state’s SkillsUSA competition and is described by her instructors as “one of the most dedicated students” who “refuses to quit and keeps moving forward.” Hickey’s goal is to open a marine and motorcycle shop of her own.
- Motorcycle & ATV – Frederick Wooten, Motorcycle Mechanics Institute Phoenix. Wooten is opening a new chapter in his life as a motorcycle technician. A disabled veteran, Wooten plans to use his technician training to open an independent motorcycle repair business. He also has a passion for supporting others and aspires to help other disabled veterans enter motorcycle technician careers.
- Motorsports – Zander Worm, Copper Country Intermediate School District. Worm’s instructors describe his curiosity and interest in vehicles as “profound.” He regularly asks more information than the course requires and spends time helping his classmates understand the material. A two-time regional SkillsUSA winner, Worm is determined to one day become the chief engineer of Corvette.
- Restoration – Justin Arace, Central Carolina Community College. Arace holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematical engineering, but after working a desk job he decided that career was not for him. Instead, he opted to go back to school to pursue his lifelong passion for automotive restoration. Arace plans to become a master restoration technician and one day even own a shop of his own.
- Welding & CNC – Martin Witt, Universal Technical Institute Long Beach. Witt is a determined individual committed to becoming an automotive welding technician. After a career as an executive producer, Witt made the decision to reinvent himself, learn a new skill and pursue his dream of designing and building custom cars at his own shop.
Finalists were selected from eligible nominations by industry expert judges. Each will receive prizes valued at over $1,200 from TechForce partners including WD-40; AutoZone; Ford Motor Company; Cengage Learning; Advance Auto Parts; FedEx Freight; and CRC Industries. The grand prize winner as chosen by this week’s public vote will also receive a $1,000 TechForce Scholarship and additional prizes valued at over $1,500, including additional training and prizes from Advance Auto Parts, a Smart Parts Washer from CRC Industries, a gift card from AutoZone and an iPad Air from Ford Motor Company.
Meet the finalists and vote for the grand prize winner at TechForce.org/Vote. Voting is open through May 7, 2021 at 11 a.m. PDT.
The FutureTechs Rock Awards are part of TechForce Foundation’s workforce development initiative to help inspire and support tomorrow’s workforce of technicians.