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E2CCB auto technology student advances to National Championship

The idiom of living life in the fast lane may sum up Connor Lynden’s high school career in a pun, but it truly best describes his life these past few months. While his peers prepare to celebrate the conclusion of their high school careers, Connor will be competing against the best of the best in the world of Automotive Technology.

Connor, a Fredonia Central School senior and E2CCB LoGuidice Educational Center Automotive Technology CTE student, has been training for the SkillsUSA National Competition taking place in Louisville, Kentucky June 24-29.

The journey and preparation prior to the national competition can only dwarfed by Connor’s climb to this moment. In January, Connor placed third at the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealer Association Ron Smith Memorial Auto Competition held at SUNY Erie; at the SkillsUSA Regionals held at Alfred State he improved to second place; and in April, Connor earned first-place honors in the New York State SkillsUSA Automotive Technology competition held in Syracuse, solidifying his bid to the national competition.

“The New York state competition was a very intense competition, going up against the best from across the state,” Connor said. “In the end, it came down to who studied more and who was more prepared.”

The four-hour-long competition put Connor through a gauntlet of automotive troubleshooting situations, including scanner diagnosis on a Prius; suspension and component inspection of a Jeep Compass; brake measurement and diagnosis for parallelism, rotor discard thickness and lateral runout on the front end of a Dodge Ram; parts identification; rear-end gear ratios; circuit diagnosis and valve stem clearance and guides.

The inner workings of today’s vehicles can be a language all its own and one Connor has worked to master with the help of his family.

“I’ve definitely always had a passion for cars,” said Connor, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James and Erica Lynden of Fredonia. “It runs in the family; my uncle has always been into mechanics, he does drag racing and won the world championships a few years ago.”

Connor’s uncle, Doug Lynden, has been in the automotive business for the past 28 years and currently works as the service manager for West Herr Chevy in Hamburg. The two have discussed the auto technician field extensively around the dinner table and while traveling for competitions in the NHRA Drag Racing circuit.

“The need for mechanics is never-ending. It’s getting tougher and tougher every day to find quality trained technicians. Kids aren’t as apt to jump into the field as they were in years past,” Doug said. “Connor’s interest in the automotive field is very expanded and broad. He seems to like every aspect of it and he’s very mechanically-inclined, very knowledgeable.”

With motor oil in his blood and a passion for technology in his heart, Connor decided early on in high school which career path he would enter.

“Freshmen year of high school I was working with a lot of computers and crammed them all into my first year at Fredonia. I started realizing I wanted to do more with cars and the BOCES program was the best option I had for that. It’s been a really great opportunity and I’ve been able to carry on a lot of my electronic knowledge into the program,” Connor said. “My main plan is to try and enter a racing team out of college so I can travel around while I’m still younger and get some good experience in.”

With a finish line already in mind, Connor’s focusing his attention on a pit-stop along the way – the SkillsUSA National Competition.

To prepare for the competition, Connor has sought out any possible learning opportunities, including an HVAC training at SUNY Erie and an internship with Bobek’s Transmission in Dunkirk.

“When I received my grades back from the state competition we found the biggest area I need to improve on was in transmissions,” Connor said. “I’ve missed a lot of days of home school at Fredonia but my teachers and the administration have been very supportive in helping me to keep my grades up while I prepare for the competition.”

The week leading up to the competition, Connor was still working one-on-one with E2CCB Auto Technology teacher Michael LoManto to review any possible scenario’s he would face.

“We are so proud of Connor. We are also extremely thankful to able to partner with BOCES to provide the hands-on programs that students need to be successful beyond high school,” said Darrin Paschke, Fredonia Central High School principal. “The fact that he has been able to perform at such a high level is reflective of his commitment to excellence and the outstanding programming and teaching offered by the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. We are pleased that he will be continuing his post-secondary education in the field of his current CTE work.”

By participating in area, regional and state competitions, Connor found himself in high-demand by local dealerships, some offering immediate employment and sponsorship through the Ford ASSET Program.

“It’s a great field,” Doug said. “The pay is very good, it’s just tough to find quality people who want to do this job.”

Despite receiving multiple job offers, Connor plans to stay the course and will enroll in the University of Northwestern Ohio where he will earn degrees in Automotive Technology and High Performance Motorsports.

“Connor has a good plan together, especially now with the competitions and earning scholarships, the majority of his degree is already paid for which is huge,” Doug said. “He’s going to come out of college and not have any debt. We’re behind Connor 100% and we know that he can do it.”

Connor is one of 54 Fredonia students enrolled in Career and Technical Education programming for the 2018-19 school year and one of 37,313 CTE students across the nation developing college and career ready skills through BOCES programming.

For more information on Career and Technical Education programming available through Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, please visit www.e2ccb.org.

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