(SAN DIEGO, June 22, 2005) — Andrew Canfield and Garret Raines of Ramona will represent California at the 2005 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals. Along with instructor Michael Jordan, the Ramona High School seniors will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in the finals June 26–27, including a hands-on competition that begins at 9:15 a.m. on Monday on the National Mall.
Raines, 17, and Canfield, 19, won the state competition in May, which was based on a written exam and a hands-on test in which participants diagnosed identically bugged vehicles. The pair completed the Southern California hands-on competition in 52.50 minutes. The national finals follow the same format. Each team representing each state will compete for more than $5 million in prizes and scholarships.
Both students have been working at local dealerships. Raines will enter General Motor's Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP) and Canfield will use his Universal Technical Institute scholarship from the state competition. Both students enjoy off-road racing and Raines works on a pit crew.
In addition to sending the students to the Ford/AAA national competition, Ramona High received positive national attention this year when it was named on Newsweek's list of top 1,000 high schools nationwide. The school also received statewide attention in April when it was selected as a 2005 Distinguished School by the Calif. Dept. of Education.
The nationwide automotive skills contest is aimed at encouraging students to pursue careers in automotive technology. The goal of all the teams is to become the best student automotive technicians in the country by winning the national competition and continuing their education, learning about the high tech equipment and computer technology now required to service today's vehicles.
"America's best and brightest automotive students are going to showcase their talents in Washington, D.C. and demonstrate how the face of the industry is changing," said Rick Lalor, the Automobile Club of Southern California's auto skills state competition manager who is traveling to the East Coast with the team.
At the national finals, the 50 teams will square off in a two-part competition comprised of a written exam and hands-on vehicle repair timed test to take place near the Lincoln Memorial. During the hands-on portion, competitors will have to accurately diagnose and service intentionally and identically "bugged" vehicles in a set amount time.
"Careers in automotive service have never been more attractive than they are now," said Frank Ligon, Director, Service Engineering of the Ford Customer Service Division. "Ford and its dealer network are offering these contestants unparallel opportunities to train for high-tech careers in a well-compensated field."
Industry reports indicate a current need of approximately 32,000 service technicians. The U.S. Dept. of Labor reports that the need for technicians will increase up to 20% by 2012. While the competition's goal is to increase the number of qualified service personnel, students are also educated about the benefits of entering this job market.
Entry level technicians earn approximately $32,000 per year, according to Lalor, and master technicians in some areas have salaries between $70 and $100,000 annually.
"This competition is a great way to show students that they can have successful careers as auto technicians," said Lalor. "Getting a good education and experience is a great first step toward a successful career."
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has served members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, car buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available at www.aaa.com.