MVCTC students have vehicles ready for World of Wheels competition

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Photos: Paul Paterra/Observer-Reporter

Automotive technology students at Mon Valley Career and Technical Center pose with a Corvette they worked on that will be entered in the World of Wheels competition this weekend.

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Photos: Paul Paterra/Observer-Reporter

This background will be part of the Mon Valley Career and Technical Center student’s display this weekend at the World of Wheels at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

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Paul Paterra/Observer-Reporter

One of the vehicles the automotive technology students worked on is this 1951 Mercury.

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Paul Paterra/Observer-Reporter

One of the featured attractions of the display will be this 1967 Ultra Van.

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Paul Paterra/Observer-Reporter

This little red Corvette bearing the Wolfpack logo will be part of the display.

There was a buzz in the air Wednesday morning at the Mon Valley Career and Technical Center, where the automotive technology students were preparing their vehicles for a national car show this weekend in Pittsburgh.

The World of Wheels competition is being held at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

“We have several vehicles that the students have customized,” explained Neil Henehan, MVCTC director. “The kids are so excited. They’ll be able to tell their kids I put a car in a car show. It’s a national show.”

Some 45 MVCTC students will be trekking to World of Wheels, many of whom will be attending the show for the first time.

“It has really become something the kids look forward to,” said Chris Mance, automotive instructor. “What I enjoy most about it is that you get to create situations that you can’t typically create in a normal classroom setting. This is an opportunity for the students to really show off what they’re capable of.”

MVCTC students’ participation in World of Wheels came about as a result of the school’s involvement in the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) High School Vehicle Build Program. That program connects high school automotive shop classes with specialty-equipment manufacturers’ products to build one-of-a-kind customized vehicles.

One of the showpieces is a 1967 Ultra Van, which was completely detailed by the students. Their work includes putting carpeting in the van.

“There are a very limited number of them ever manufactured,” Henehan said. “There’s only two in the world that have this paint scheme on it. There’s not going to be anything like it at the car show. Every time I look at it, it makes me happy.”

Other vehicles the students have worked on include a motorcycle, a Corvette, a Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck, a Volkswagen Cabriolet and a 1951 Mercury. Many vehicles sport the school’s Wolfpack mascot.

“Most of these projects came from the minds of the students,” Mance said. “We try to have a varied group of vehicles that pique everybody’s interest. Everybody can find something they have a personal attachment to. Whenever you find something you really care about, you put all of your efforts into it.”

“We want people to see, not just the vehicles, but the creativity that went into them and the customization that the kids did,” Henehan said.

MVCTC students have had success at World of Wheels in the past. In 2021, they collected a first-place plaque for their work on a 2001 Jeep Wrangler TJ, as well as a number of other awards.

The students feel good about their chances of doing well this year.

“I’m very excited to see how it goes,” said Sean Brennan, a sophomore from the Bentworth School District. “I’m thinking we have a good shot with what we have going up there. Just to see that finished product, it makes me feel good inside.”

“I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do something like that. It amazes me,” added Kamden Kray, a sophomore from the Ringgold School District. “I’m excited for it. I know we have a good chance.”

Mon Valley Career and Technical Center hosts students from the California, Charleroi, Bentworth, Bethlehem-Center, Ringgold, Monessen and Belle Vernon school districts.


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