High school whiz kids compete in hands-on repair contest
Since the first cars sputtered into American life, the technology that makes them run has progressed exponentially, requiring today’s technicians to be as handy with a wrench as with advanced diagnostic tools. AAA is doing its part to help make sure the need for qualified technicians is met with its annual auto repair challenge.
The contest, called the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition, is held in all 50 states each spring and is designed to encourage students to pursue careers in the automotive field. After qualifying by taking a written exam, the top high school automotive technicians go head-to-head in the statewide finals during the hands-on portion of the contest to be named top technicians in their state and earn a chance to be named best in the country. At stake is more than $10 million in scholarships.
In each state this spring, contests were held as two-student teams raced to repair deliberately bugged Ford cars. The 10 faults in the vehicle, in addition to not being able to start, included other problems with the engine. Students had to find and repair all of the faults to win, and scores were based on time and accuracy.
In Louisiana, Jacob Toler and Kenneth Secoy of Tioga High School in Pineville won the contest, which was held in Alexandria. Their instructor is Brian Branch.
The top team in Mississippi was composed of Clinton High School students Stacy Williams and Christopher Cornelius. The contest was held in Jackson, and their instructor is Charlie Melton.
In Arkansas, Kel Martin and Johnny Willingham of Waldron High School were named state champs at the contest in Batesville. Their instructor is Larry Brigance.
“By encouraging students to continue their educations in the automotive service industry, AAA and Ford are helping prepare the next generation of automotive technicians,” said Mike Right of AAA who helps coordinate the contest.
In winning the hands-on contests in their states, the students received a choice of scholarships from a number of technical institutes. Also, the winners received an all-expenses-paid trip to Dearborn, Mich., to represent their states in the national championship, which was held in late June after press deadline for this issue.