Two students from Lompoc High in Santa Barbara County Calif. beat 36 other students to win the California 2012 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition today. San Diego’s Ramona High finished third, and Madison High finished ninth. The competition, sponsored by Ford Motor Company and the Automobile Club of Southern California, is designed to find the most talented young auto technicians in the U.S.
Lompoc High competed in the Southern California contest, held at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum at the Fairplex in Pomona today. It earned the state championship by achieving the highest overall score among the 10 two-student teams at the museum, as well as beating scores of 10 two-student teams who were competing simultaneously in Northern California. The Golden State is the only one with two same-day competitions.
Lompoc students Clayton Petersen, and Andrew Ramirez, completed the hands-on competition in 59 minutes and 49 seconds, finding and repairing 10 out of 10 problems planted in the vehicle by judges. The competition winners were determined by scores on an online qualifying exam and the team’s performance in the statewide hands-on under-the-hood competition to repair quickly and accurately a deliberately disabled 2012 Ford Fusions.
The students each won five college scholarships (worth $55,500), including a $20,000 tuition scholarship to United Technical Institute, a $10,000 tuition scholarship to Lincoln Technical College and a two-year, $3,000 scholarship to one of 60 higher education schools participating in the Ford Motor Company’s Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) program. The pair also won repair tools for finishing on top. The winning Lompoc High School team instructor is Michael Johnson, who also received a trophy for the high school.
“Clayton and Andrew repaired a Ford Fusion today with 10 ‘bugs’ and made all 10 repairs correctly, meaning it was a ‘perfect car’,” said Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition Committee Chairman and the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Motor Sports Administrator Rick Lalor. “It was the only perfectly repaired car across the state. A student team from Alhambra Senior High in Martinez, California finished their repairs faster, but their car had one demerit so Lompoc’s perfectly repaired vehicle won the day.”
San Luis Obispo High’s team of Frank Randise and Hunter Tasseff, coached by instructor Jeff Lehmkuhl, finished second in the Southern California competition, while Ramona High’s Dustin Ballantyne and Justin Sebenius, coached by Mike Saavedra took third place. As statewide champion, the Lompoc High team advances to the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals in Dearborn, MI in June, where $12 million in scholarships and prizes will be distributed.
The Auto Club co-sponsors the annual competition to draw attention to the need to attract qualified students to high-paying automotive professions. 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. At the same time, there are almost 250 million cars and trucks in operation in the U.S., according to R.L. Polk & Co.’s 2009 data.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FORD/AAA STUDENT AUTO SKILLS
COMPETITION 2012 STANDINGS:
School Instructor Student Student
2. San Luis Obispo
5. San Clemente
7. San Marcos-Santa Barbara
8. Morro Bay
9. Madison-San Diego