(Irwindale Speedway, California, May 6, 2005) — Two students from Ramona High School in northern San Diego County beat a field of 38 other students to win the California 2005 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition today. The competition, sponsored by Ford and the Automobile Club of Southern California, is designed to find the most talented young auto technicians in the U.S.
Ramona High competed in the Southern California portion of the contest, held at Irwindale Speedway. It earned the state championship by achieving the highest score among the 10 two-student teams at Irwindale, as well as beating the score of 10 two-student teams who were competing simultaneously in Northern California.
Ramona High students Garrett Raines, 17, and Andrew Canfield, 19, completed the Southern California hands-on competition in 52.50 minutes. They each won a two-year, $4,000 scholarship to one of 60 higher education schools participating in the Ford Motor Co.'s ASSET (Automotive Student Service Educational Training) program. The winning Ramona High School team instructor is Michael Jordan.
"The car that Garrett and Andrew repaired was clean — meaning they caught all the problems — and they repaired each problem perfectly," said Rick Lalor, event competition chairman and the Auto Club's motor sports manager. "The pair demonstrated careful workmanship and high-tech knowledge needed to repair today's vehicles."
San Luis Obispo High finished second in the Southern California competition, while another team from Ramona High took third place. Taylor Mohr, 17, and Jordan Scott, 17, made up the second place team. Their instructor is Gary Hamilton. Ramona's team of Jason Borges, 18, and Brian Connolly, 17, were third. Their instructor is Michael Saavedra.
The competition winners were determined by the combination of a two-hour written qualifying exam and the team's performance in a hands-on competition to repair quickly and accurately a deliberately disabled 2005 Ford Taurus.
As statewide champion, the Ramona High team advances to the national finals in Washington, D.C., next month where $5 million in prizes will be distributed. The national champion will receive scholarships, awards and prizes valued at more than $70,000.
The Auto Club co-sponsors the annual competition to draw attention to the need to attract qualified students to high-paying automotive professions. Mechanics with two-year degrees will be able earn a starting salary of $38,000 annually, with salary growth up to $100,000 or more for master technicians.
Trained automotive technicians are among the most sought-after and highly paid professionals in today's job market, but many high schools are reducing or eliminating automotive programs due to lack of funding and/or trained teachers. The annual demand for qualified auto technicians exceeds the supply. The U.S. Labor Dept. estimates there is a need for 32,000 additional automotive technicians each year. AAA sponsors the skills contest as part of its educational efforts to attract and train more young people to the automotive professions.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FORD/AAA STUDENT AUTO SKILLS COMPETITION STANDINGS FOR 2005:
|1. Ramonoa||Michael Jordon||Garrett Raines, 17||Andrew C, 19|
|2. San Luis Obispo||Gary Hamilton||Taylor Mohr, 17||Jordon Scott, 17|
|3. Ramona||Michael Saavedra||Jason Borges, 18||Brian Connolly, 17|
|4 .San Luis Obispo||Jeff Lehmkuhl||Chris Burd, 18||Lucas Grant, 18|
|5. Arvin||George White||Jersael Perez, 18||Victor Bernabe, 18|
|6. Agoura||John Andersen||John Barut, 18||Justin Gorger, 18|
|7. Paso Robles||John Stokes||Matthew Reed, 17||Stephan Wagner, 17|
|8. Sultana||Jay Winters||Jonathan Rains, 18||Jonathon Zubiate, 17|
|9. Morro Bay||Jason M. Roberts||Eric Pennachio, 18||Dana Wilke, 16|
|10. Arroyo Grande||Loren Bradbury||Erik Gutterud, 17||Ryan Evans, 18|