SUNY Morrisville Wins National Competition for Mopar Students

Sixteen schools from around the U.S. competed in the first-ever Mopar Career Automotive Program (CAP) Bracket Challenge.


SUNY Morrisville’s Mopar Career Automotive Program (MCAP) students were crowned champions in the first-ever Mopar Career Automotive Program (CAP) Bracket Challenge, which brought together 16 schools from across the U.S.

SUNY Morrisville automotive students advanced through multiple rounds of technical assessments, hands-on competitions and in-person challenges. In addition to the title, they also won temporary possession of a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and individual tool sets for participants, and the school earned a five-drawer tool cart with a 400-piece master tool set from MAC Tools.

Students also have a few more things to add to their resumes, including letters of recommendation from top Stellantis professionals.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, one of only 3,300 made, is on loan to the college for a year. It will be used by auto students for various training and on the college’s dynamometer, which measures torque and power. Plans are to take it to the Syracuse Nationals, the largest car show in the Northeast, as well as other car shows.

More than the prizes, the feeling of being the best resonates among teammates. The hours in lab, toiling over broken cars and fixing engines -- all of the hard work paid off.

“This was a great experience,” said Darrell Deronceray of Niskayuna, NY, a student working towards his bachelor's degree in automotive technology, who took the team to the final win in round four, alongside Jacob Allen, of Bridgeport, NY, a student in the automotive technology associate degree program.

“It is proof of our abilities and a confidence-booster for when we are faced with real-world problems and we can solve them,” Deronceray said of the winning the title.

The overall experience also gave students a bigger picture of the industry with competitions held at their local Stellantis Training Center in Rochester, NY, and the national training center in Auburn Hills, MI.

Teamwork was a top strategy that helped the Morrisville MCAP team advance -- that and studying a 200-page manual, plus their arsenal of skills and hands-on experience they are gaining in the college’s top-notch auto programs.

Add their coach, Matt Polak, a 2007 automotive alumnus, for the winning combination. Polak, assistant professor of automotive technology, has been running SUNY Morrisville’s MCAP program for the last year and a half.

The team credits his leadership as a driving force for their win.

“The feeling that out of all of these schools, to be No. 1 shows how his teaching has benefited us,” Allen said.

“We relied on what we studied, what he taught us and the skills already in our heads,” Deronceray said.

“He’s a really good teacher,” teammate Michael Wegener said. “His motivation keeps us going.” Wegener, a student in the automotive technology associate degree program, hails from Massachusetts. “This was the best auto school I found. I toured others and they didn’t compare to Morrisville.”

Polak put the credit back on his students for their skillset, teamwork and confidence as the muscle that took them to the top. “Everyone contributed something,” he said.

The team won fans along the way, impressing judges with their communication, skills, teamwork and hands-on rounds, some completed in nearly half the allotted time, Polak noted. 

The competition happened in four rounds. The first included completing resumes and a professional interview with MCAP leaders, followed by an electrical assessment completed online, a hands-on assessment in Rochester and the final assessment in Detroit. Final scores determined which teams advanced.

From there, Polak’s team voted on which of their teammates would take them to the next step, partially based on how they scored in previous rounds.

Allen and Deronceray represented Morrisville in round four, where they were tasked to complete four 40-minute stations. They relied on their background and exceptional communication for this technical portion, which included some tasks they had never done in labs. 

On the SUNY Morrisville campus, celebrations have hyped the team’s win and the college’s MCAP program.

“What it does for SUNY Morrisville is invaluable,” Polak said of the MCAP program. “We would not have the equipment, the tooling, the access to manufacture-specifics, the vehicles -- it gives us access to all of that.”

The Dodge on loan to the program was added to a fleet of 12 cars MCAP students work on in labs. 

“What I love about the program is the hands-on and career connections,” Deronceray said. “The leaders in industry reach out to us and are very good to us and always willing to help.”

The connections go hand-in-hand with all of the college’s automotive programs, which include three associate degrees in automotive technology, automotive technology - Ford ASSET and auto body technology. Graduates have the option to transfer into the college’s bachelor of technology degree program in automotive technology or the bachelor of business administration degree program in automotive management.

SUNY Morrisville students who competed in the MCAP program and the stages in which they competed:

  • Christian Vilalta, of Elmsford, resume
    Anthony Trapaso, of Canastota, resume
    Michael Wegener, of Massachusetts, resume
    Ethan Grogan, of Pine Bush, resume, electrical assessment proctored online via national training center (school support in Detroit)
    Liam Kosinski, of Liverpool, resume, electrical assessment proctored online via national training center (school support in Detroit)
    Darrell Deronceray, of Niskayuna, resume, electrical assessment online, hands-on assessment in Rochester, final assessment in Detroit
    Jacob Allen, of Bridgeport, resume, interview with Chrysler area manager, electrical assessment online, hands-on assessment in Rochester, final assessment in Detroit
    Joshua Bravick, of Munnsville, resume
    Ryan Teixeira, of Southington, Connecticut, resume
    Kyler Paul, of Hamilton, resume
    Christian White, of Little Falls, resume
    Vincent Stellio, of Mount Kisko, resume, interview with Chrysler area manager

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