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Announcing the 2020 FutureTechs Rock Grand Prize Winner:

2020 FTR_Grand Prize Graphic_Griffin Howland@3x

Meet Griffin:

Why Griffin was nominated: Griffin’s nominator stated, “Griffin is extremely motivated to be the best at every task that is put in front of him. Griffin also has great soft skills and character traits that allow him to remain calm and focused even during adversity. I truly believe that it is the sum total of these skills and traits that will propel him into a bright future.”

As a senior in high school, he 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 his attendance to school even when school has been cancelled. Griffin is constantly trying to polish his skills outside of the classroom through various welding projects.

Griffin’s achievements include representing his school’s welding program at the state SkillsUSA welding competition, finishing 4th out of 260 at the Tulsa Welding Competition in Jacksonville, FL, exemplary Attendance (he even attends optional trainings on his days off) and being nominated as his school’s Welding Student of the Year in 2019. Griffin is also an active leader in the school’s marching band, and a member of the All-Region Band and Beta Club.

In his own words: “I have been in my welding program for the last 3 years and have excelled in the course staying ahead of the other students. I competed in the Tulsa Welding competition in Jacksonville, FL and received 4th place out of more than 200 competitors. I participate in multiple extracurricular activities at my school such as Beta Club, Science National Honors Society, and Marching Band. I am a member of SkillsUSA and National Technical Honors Society at my Career and Technology Center. I received the award for Welding Student of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year.”

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Meet the Finalists

Scroll down to meet the 2020 Finalists and learn more about why each was nominated.

To learn more about the FutureTechs Rock Awards, including prizes and the Awards schedule visit the Awards Home Page>>

2020 FTR_Finalist Graphic_Meng Yang

Meet Meng:

Why Meng was nominated: The individual who nominated Meng described him as “inspiring” and “adaptable,” possessing “strong leadership and ethics skills.”

Meng has earned several Awards for his academic and extra-curricular work including being recognized by the school’s Board of Trustees. He is involved with his campus’s Automotive Club and represents the Career and Technical Education (CTE) student body in the college’s Student Senate.

Meng is also involved in his college’s peer mentoring programs where he serves as a resource to ensure the academic success of students entering school from low-support circumstances, including the foster care and criminal justice systems. Meng has volunteered over one thousand hours of his time to his campus and community!

Meng is pursuing a dual major in Automotive Technology and Advanced Transportation Technology.

In his own words: “…I am deserving of this award due my capabilities and passion for pursuing a diverse skill set to be a future minded technician. This opportunity is a blessed one. As a former foster student this will help relieve some of my burden so that I achieve my goals.”

2020 FTR_Finalist Graphic_Damen Marlin

Meet Damen:

Why Damen was nominated: Damen’s nominator described him as “a hard worker, good student and extremely passionate for anything aviation.”

Damen is extremely eager to learn new things and is very curious about how things work. Flying and working on planes is his main passion. Damen has received Honor Roll several times, an Academic Achievement Award in World History & Culture, and First Honors in Construction Technology at his technical school. His goal is to learn everything he can about engines. He even once bought an engine block from a scrap yard just to take it apart and put it back together again!

Damen has an excellent work ethic. He is part of his school’s work co-op program and has been requested back year after year by the same employer, and promoted several times at his restaurant job. During the summer months Damen works multiple jobs.

In his own words: “I believe I am deserving of this award because I am a hands on hardworking student who has a passion for aviation and helping others. It’s been difficult maintaining a job while going to school but I was still able to get honor roll in my sending school and tech school in the same quarter. I am driven to be successful in my field and will work to become a pilot and technician to make myself a more well-rounded technician and person.”

2020 FTR_Finalist Graphic_Samantha Welch

Meet Samantha:

Why Samantha was nominated: Samantha’s nominator states that she “has all the admirable qualities one would want as a student or employee,” including “excellent attendance and punctuality” and “the desire to stay up to date with the ever-changing industry,” as well as being “incredibly hard working and never hesitating to help her fellow classmates.”

Samantha is a member of the National Technical Honor Society, has near perfect attendance and has been nominated for student of the month twice this academic year. She has served as a class officer both years of her technical education, volunteers her time to help during her school’s annual car show and open house, and recently joined the National Guard. 

Samantha has placed in or won several state, regional and national technical skills competitions. She won first place overall in a recent SkillsUSA Regional Competition, and won first place in an inaugural SkillsUSA New York State Competition. She also placed fifth in that category during the SkillsUSA National Competition the same year. Samantha was also selected as this year’s Collision Repair Education Foundation’s Student of the Year.

Samantha has been able achieve all this despite coming from a small town in rural New York. Samantha plans to attend Ohio Technical College to continue her Collision Repair studies after graduation.

In her own words: “I believe I am deserving of this award, because not only do I push myself to be and do my best I strive to make others around me the best they can be, too. I push myself to show that in the automotive and technological world industry that women can do anything and we can do just as much as a man and we can do some better. In the future I would like to open my own Collison Repair shop to share my interest.”

2020 FTR_Finalist Graphic_Danny Gonzalez@3x

Meet Danny:

Why Danny was nominated: Danny’s nominator praises his “true passion for working hard in a fast pace environment,” stating “If you are looking for someone with the drive for becoming one of the most efficient and respected technicians, you will not find anyone better then Danny.”

Danny has worked hard to move from one of the least experienced to one of the most knowledgeable in his class. Danny understands that he does not yet know everything, but soaks up the knowledge he can gain from experienced technicians.

Danny never backs down from a challenge. When faced with rebuilding an out of production, international tractor engine Danny took it upon himself to call shops all around the nation to ensure the right parts were obtained and a quality rebuild was completed. Many experienced technicians laughed and said good luck when they learned why Danny was calling, but he did not let that get him down. Eventually Danny was able to accomplish this near impossible task because of his determination.

In his own words: “I’m big into the agricultural field and have always been involved in school activities such as FFA and 4-H. I’ve always worked for farmers.  I did an internship… and was offered a full time job.”

2020 FTR_Finalist Graphic_Christian Hall@3x-1

Meet Christian:

Why Christian was nominated: Christian’s nominator states, “Christian is one of the hardest working young men we've seen… He will stay until the job gets done and he doesn't leave loose ends. He is eager to learn and willing to be taught.”

Christian completed his general education courses for college while still in high school, and since attending college he has made the Dean’s List every semester.

Christian recently earned a Class A CDL license, at the age of 19, for both automatic and manual vehicles. He has used his CDL at the shop where he works to pick up customer equipment, test his work and even deliver loads to get a better idea of what truck drivers experience. Now he is working with the rest of his shop’s technicians, a handful of them older than he is, to help them obtain CDL licenses of their own. Christian shadows his shop’s lead technician, and in time will be an extremely solid technician and leader within the industry.

Christian volunteers on his church’s tech team. His responsibilities include providing music mixing for the worship team, audio capabilities for speakers / presenters, video recording, and occasionally directing slides. He is currently in a leadership study that meets every other week.

In his own words: “I believe that I am deserving for this award because of my passion and determination for becoming a future technician who enjoys strongly the environment that mechanical repair brings. It has taught me better hands on skills and how to navigate and diagnose through tougher equipment issues and how to use my resources for more than just looking up information.”

2020 FTR_Finalist Graphic_Nicholas DiBartalo

Meet Nicholas:

Why Nicholas was nominated: Nicholas’s nominator states, “For as long as I’ve known him Nick has had a passion for all things mechanical. His optimistic attitude combined with his curiosity for how things run, mentored by his dad’s aptitude for mechanics, has made Nick fearless in trying out new things.”

Nicholas has restored, repaired and revived a number of vehicles, including car trailers, golf carts, dirt bikes, electric scooters and even trucks and boats. He dreams of owning a mobile motorcycle repair business, to bring his skills and passion to others. Even before starting his technician training, Nicholas has many of the key elements for success: A great attitude, open friendly personality, and innate customer service and technical skills. His current technician training will only catapult him further into his future.

In his own words: “I believe I deserve this award because being a motorcycle mechanic and owning my own business is the only career I have ever wanted. While others around pursued sports or studying I pursued mechanics. For as long as I can remember, anything I could get my hands on to take part and rebuild and get running again I did.

My dad mentored me and we share an equal passion for mechanics. He taught me as long as I put my mind to something I could achieve it... I confidently take on projects with the mindset if it’s not running I know I can get it to run.

My optimism, friendly personality, love of motorcycles and mechanics are all elements that will lead to my success. I am so enthusiastic about my upcoming year at MMI because it is laying the foundation for my future. I plan to own a business as a mobile motorcycle repair technician.  I believe people want accessible quality service and I know I can deliver it!”

2020 FTR_Finalist Graphic_Franklin Forman

Meet Franklin:

Why Franklin was nominated: Franklin’s nominator remarked, “Frankie has a passion for this industry. He is the son of two plumbers, but knew from an early age that the only pipes in his future were going to be exhaust… It is exciting to know that we have young, passionate technicians like Frankie driving the future of our industry!”

Franklin works full time at a Collision Repair shop while attending college in the evenings. He completed his Associate Degree in Automotive and High Performance Technology with honors, perfect attendance and earned a spot on the Dean’s List of Academic Achievement. Franklin is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Automotive Technology Supervision.

Franklin took 1st place in his Local, Regional, and State Skills USA competitions and finished an impressive 3rd place at the National contest. He also earned the top prize at the UNOH Diesel Technology Scholarship Test, which lead him to attend the school. Franklin serves as Engine Specialist the University’s Motorsports Team, where he is trusted with assembling and maintaining the High Horsepower Racing Engines used to compete in the team’s UMP Modifieds, Dirt Thunder Stocks and Drag Racing Vehicles.

He is always the first to volunteer for a special project or to mentor other students with less experience. His drive and ambition push him to be the best he can in all areas of his life and his attitude, work ethic and passion are infectious.

In his own words: “I am an unnaturally hard worker who is constantly trying to gain experience and knowledge in order to become better in the industry. Because of what I have learned so far at UNOH and as an auto body technician, I am very excited to continue my education and improve my industry in the future.”

2020 FTR_Finalist Graphic_Kassidy Nixon@3x

Meet Kassidy:

Why Kassidy was nominated: The individual who nominated Kassidy praised her as “an extremely hard working and dedicated student,” with a “real passion for preserving automotive history.”

Kassidy is a straight-A student who will earn both her high school and Automotive Restoration diploma later this year. She wants to turn her passion for restoration into a career as a technician, with a goal to ultimately own her own custom shop to share her passion for classic vehicles to the next generation.

Kassidy is already putting her education to use by restoring her 1984 K10 Chevy truck. She constructed and welded many of her own panels, body worked the entire truck, painted it and has even sewn her own dash pad and custom door panels. She has proven herself to be a natural leader in the class and is often sought out for help by her fellow students. When a task needs performed Kassidy is always ready to tackle it no matter how intimidating, undesirable or dirty it may seem.

Kassidy volunteers with her campus’s automotive restoration car club (which she helped found) to host workshops to teaching basic car care to women at her college. She was selected as one of two runner ups for the 2019 Collision Repair Education Foundations "Student of the Year" award, and was awarded "Outstanding Student in Automotive Restoration" at Central Carolina Community College.

In her own words: “It would be an honor to win this award. I have a huge amount of passion for the Automotive Industry. I love going to school to learn more each day, and always put 110% into everything I do. I am currently restoring my own 1984 Chevrolet K10.”

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