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July/August 2014 Issue

Automotive Whiz Kids

Automotive technology students were put to the test across the country this spring not only with pencil and paper but with wrenches and diagnostic tools in the annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.

The brightest young automotive minds from coast to coast gathered in each state to compete for approximately $11 million in scholarships and prizes. Designed to foster young people’s interest in the automotive industry, the competition starts on the state level in the spring and culminates in the national championship at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., in early June (after press deadline for this issue).

All participants begin with an online exam. The 10 highest scoring two-person teams are selected to advance to the state finals for the hands-on competition, where each team must diagnose and repair a deliberately bugged Ford vehicle. The problems they attempt to find and fix range from faulty wiring to malfunctioning electronics. The online exam and hands-on competition scores determine each state’s top team.

South Arkansas Community College students Ryan Roton and Brad Brown, led by instructor Doyle Manis, took the crown in Arkansas for their school in El Dorado.

Christopher Stuteville and Kendall Lawson from Caddo Career and Technology Center in Shreveport took top honors in Louisiana. Their instructor is Gary Weese.

In Mississippi, Kiren Morris and Cody Cahill from Grenada Career and Technology Center proved to be the best in the state with their victory. Their instructor is Ricky Jones.


A student repairing a bugged car in the Mississippi competition.


Risk rises in summer for children to suffer heatstroke in vehicles

With temperatures heating up across the nation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is once again warning parents not to leave children alone in closed vehicles even for a few minutes.

Running through September, NHTSA is holding its “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” campaign to caution parents, caregivers, and grandparents that it doesn’t take long for a child to die of heatstroke if left unattended in a parked car. Even the best of parents can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car, and the end result can be tragic.

Data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences show at least 44 children in the United States lost their lives in 2013 after being left in unattended vehicles, and an unknown number of others were injured. The average number of U.S. child heatstroke deaths per year since 1998 is 38.

To prevent heatstroke incidents from occurring:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or the air conditioning is on.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle–front and back–before locking the door and walking away.
  • Ask the childcare provider to call if the child doesn’t show up as expected.
  • Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.

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