LOWELL | Two Lowell High School vocational automotive students recently came away champions in the Chicagoland Top Tech Challenge.
Jakub Baran, a 17-year old junior, and Dakota Pociask, an 18-year old senior, beat out 20 student mechanic teams from Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana to win the team challenge.
Baran received the best personal score to take home the top individual award.
Lowell automotive teacher Leon Simon said this marked the first time his students competed in the tri-state contest sponsored by Universal Techical Institute in Lisle, Ill.
Simon said he couldn't be more pleased.
The winning students' efforts earned a $10,000 Snap-On Tools set for the school as well as $1,000 scholarships for each winner, Simon said.
"We both want to be mechanical engineers," Pociask said.
He said he is interested in automotive research and development.
"I want to work for Tesla," he said. Tesla Motors designs and manufactures electric cars.
Baran, who came to the United States from Poland in the third grade, said he and his teammate did not expect to take the top prize.
"I thought, 'If we do good, we do good,'" he said. "It was a nice surprise."
Baran said he has been working alongside his father, a truck mechanic, since he was a young boy. After taking an Lowell High engineering course as a freshman, he said, "I looked at the engineering side, to create rather than fix."
Pociask, who already has a full-ride scholarship to Purdue University Calumet, said he took engineering at Lowell High as well and has always been interested in "how to make things go fast."