By Sharon Challenger
Haddam Killingworth News is often approached by people in various environments who begin their conversation with the sentence, “You know, you should write about…people would love to know this good news!”
On one such occasion, my ears perked up because the good news I was hearing was about a young man who impressed me several years ago.
I was working as a substitute teacher in Haddam when a little boy by the name of Noah Burr struck up a conversation with me about repairing engines. I was really impressed with his responses to my questions.
Fast forward to 2022, this young man is now a student at Vinal Tech in Middletown, and he won 1st Place, (Diesel Technology) in the 2022 Connecticut State Skills Contest. He ranked 35th in the nation as a sophomore in the 2022 National Skills USA competition.
I contacted him to know more about his experience, and he agreed to answer some questions.
When asked about his interest in mechanics, Noah explained that he was always interested in tractors because he grew up around them. His father and grandfather used them all the time on the family farm or at tractor shows and fairs.
According to his mother, Noah was “very well versed by the time he was 5 years old. I remember him giving detailed information at the Higganum Green about his father’s 1925 Model T Ford truck during a ‘touch-a-truck’ event.”
Noah recalls that his first fixer-upper was of a John Deere garden tractor he and his grandfather got at the dump. It wasn’t in running condition, but he worked on it until he managed to get it running. He then drove it all around the farm.
Living on a farm provided him with many opportunities to work on farm equipment. He learned how to repair tractors by working alongside his father and grandfather over the years. He has his own collection of garden tractors to repair and enjoys working on them. One challenge required him to fix a clutch in an Allis-Chalmers G tractor. He had to pull the motor out to get to the clutch. Once the clutch was fixed, he had to put it all back together and hope it would work. He was happy to report that “it was a success!”
Motivated to learn more skills, Noah sought opportunities where he could pursue a technical education. When he was a student at Haddam Killingworth Middle School, he participated in two summer camps at Vinal Tech and got a glimpse of what to expect. He decided he would apply, and was accepted.
In his first year, he enrolled in the Diesel and Heavy Duty Equipment Repair program. There are only 18 students in the class so the space is limited. Students in the program receive more than 1,400 hours of time in their trade technology. In addition, Vinal offers its students an opportunity to get work experience and wages while they are enrolled.
As a student, Noah had an opportunity to participate in the 2022 Connecticut State Skills Conference where he won “the Gold” in Diesel Equipment Technology. According to the SkillsUSA Championship website, “Contestants cycle through fourteen stations, testing and troubleshooting engines, electrical and electronics systems, power-train systems including chassis, transmissions, and carriers.” They also must demonstrate their knowledge of general shop skills, hydraulic systems, vehicle inspections, fundamental failure analysis, brake systems, as well as air-conditioning systems.
Noah explained that during the electronic systems station test, (students worked individually), he had to diagnose why the signal lights and running lights weren’t working. He had to test for power in the circuit. After multiple tests, he found a bad switch for the running lights and a big resistance in the wire blocking power to the signal light.
He didn’t expect to win and was incredibly surprised and proud that he won.
Noah’s current work in progress is a 1978 GMC truck that his dad, Jason, recently purchased. It is going to be a project they work on together. Noah wants to see it rebuilt from the frame out, including rot repair, mild engine performance rebuild, body work, and paint. He mentioned that when completed, it just might be Burr Farm’s pulling tractor.
When asked, “Do you have any advice for other students who might be interested in Diesel Equipment Technology?” Noah replied, “It’s a good field to work in because there are lots of options for things to work on within heavy equipment like heavy trucks, tractors, stump grinders, excavators, and more.”
- 1st Place – Diesel Technology – Noah Burr
“The SkillsUSA Championships are career competition events showcasing the best career and technical education students in the nation. Contests begin locally and continue through the state and national levels.”
Photos by Jason Burr