Recently, Aaron White and Sheamus Powers, students in Portsmouth High School Career Technical Center’s Automotive Technology program, placed 7th in the nation at the National Auto Tech Championship in New York City.

The achievement, according to Portsmouth Career Technical Education (CTE) Director Diane Canada, helps underscore not just the strength of the program, but its relevancy to – and partnership with – industry.

“We have been accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) since 2008,” she said.

This accreditation includes a close working partnership, one that is replicated at all CTE centers across the state.

“I work with all the high school and colleges,” said Jessica Dade, NATEF Assistant Executive Director and Career Coordinator. “I make sure there is a pipeline between the technicians and all the other students that are employed by the auto industry. I help create the pathway from high school and college directly into the industry.

This pathways, she said, leads to hundreds of different opportunities – from auto technician to marketing and accounting.

“It is a fast growing and high-tech industry,” she said. “It is a great career pathway for anyone.”

Such support from NATEF as well as from the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association (NHADA) is critical, according to David Lily, who teaches in Automotive Technology at Portsmouth High School.

“With support from the NHADA and the NH community college system, our students have everything they need to start a successful career,” he said.

In the case of White and Powers, this career has a boost from NHADA, which awarded them scholarships as a result of their success at the National Auto Tech Championship.

In the case of White, his scholarship will go toward his degree at the Toyota T-Ten Program at Lakes Region Community College. Powers’ scholarship will be applied toward covering the costs to take the Ford Asset Program at Manchester Community College.

They are both working at NHADA member stores.

“Sheamus is at Hampton Ford and Aaron at Toyota of Portsmouth,” said Dade, who said it is a huge honor for everyone involved in their respective success.

“They are rated within the top 14 auto students in the country,” she said. “It shows that hard work and determination can really pay off. It really humbles you when you see 18 year-olds work so very hard. It is very rewarding seeing it come full circle for them.”

Lilly agrees and said he hopes one takeaway from his students’ accomplishment is a deeper understanding as to what takes place in CTE in general and his program in specific.

“People who are not aware of what current CTE programs offer don’t realize what high level training students are receiving,” he said. “It’s not only from a technical aspect on the cars, but also using the repair software and the technical reading and writing involved.”

He said students are problem-solving every day using industry tools and resources in Automotive Technology at Portsmouth High School Career Technical Center.

“The thought that students are just learning to change oil and tires could not be further from the truth,” he said.

To learn more about Portsmouth High School Career Technical Center, visit