Two students from Lompoc High School placed in the top 20 at the 2012 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals in Dearborn, Mich., this morning. They finished 18th out of 50 student teams from across the country in a timed match-up held at Ford World Headquarters. The competition, sponsored by Ford Motor Company and AAA, is designed to find the future stars of the automotive industry. The competition gives auto tech students the opportunity to showcase their automotive problem-solving capabilities by resolving “real world” vehicle repair challenges.
Representing California, Lompoc High seniors Clayton Petersen and Andrew Ramirez took 57 minutes and 55 seconds to repair their bugged Ford Fiesta 1.6L I-4, at Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn. They were supervised by Lompoc High Industrial Arts Instructor Michael Johnson and accompanied to the competition by Automobile Club of Southern California Motor Sports Administrator Rick Lalor.
More than 12,000 high school juniors and seniors competed in this year’s competition with a $12 million in scholarships offered and a chance to win a pit crew experience with Wood Brothers Racing, the oldest active team in NASCAR, along with No. 21 racer Trevor Bayne (last year’s Daytona 500 winner).
“Clayton and Andrew finished in the top 20 in a very competitive field,” said Lalor. “Our students worked together well, fixed nearly all the problems with the Ford Fiesta, and overall had a great experience.”
The top five finishers in today’s national finals were: Kansas, Michigan, Illinois, Utah, and Oklahoma. These student teams all submitted “perfectly repaired cars” to judges which contained no repair work demerits. But Kansas’ fastest hands-on finish of 37 minutes and 21 seconds pushed them over the top to win first place in the competition.
The competition is geared toward students looking to jumpstart their careers in the automotive industry and is especially relevant for today’s struggling economy, as car owners are putting more money into repair and maintenance as a way of avoiding the big-ticket purchase of a new car. The U.S. Dept. of Labor reports that this trend, as well as advancements in automotive technology, means an increase in the demand for repair work and a rise in job opportunities for those automotive technicians who complete postsecondary education—something the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition helps its competitors pursue by offering millions of dollars in scholarships.
Find today’s Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals updates and photographs on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AutoSkills and also at Twitter.com/AAAauto.
High resolution photos of the top-10 teams with their trophies and action photos from today’s competition will be made available to download at Flickr.com/AutoSkills. Official team photos for all competing teams also are available in high resolution format on Flickr.com/AutoSkills.
Today marked the 63rd annual competition which began in 1949. This year, AAA marks its 28th year with the competition, serving as a co-sponsor since 1984. Ford Motor Company celebrates its 18th year involved in the competition.
In May, the Lompoc High team earned the California state competition honors by achieving the highest score among the 20 two-student teams competing across California. The Lompoc students each won scholarships, tools and prizes for finishing on top in the Golden State competition.