One hundred high school automotive technology students from across the country will tune up cars in hopes of tuning out the competition at the National Finals of the 62nd annual Ford-AAA Student Auto Skills competition, which takes place June 12-14 at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn.

The students will be vying for a share of nearly $12 million in scholarships and a job shadow experience with one of Roush Fenway Racing’s NASCAR teams.

The competition, which is geared toward students looking to jumpstart their careers in the automotive industry, 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. Department 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.

The annual competition features the top high school automotive technology students from all 50 states, with each state represented by a team of two students joined by their high school instructor.

At the National Finals, the students will have their automotive skills and knowledge put to the test with a written exam and a timed event in which they will race against the clock and each other to identify glitches and repair deliberately installed “bugs” in identical 2011 Ford F-150 XLT 4×4 trucks. The team with the best combined written and hands-on score will win the national championship.

In addition to the scholarships, the winning students will get the opportunity to spend a week job shadowing Roush Fenway Racing’s NASCAR Nationwide Series No. 6 Ford team leading up to and during the Subway Jalapeno 250 on July 1 at Daytona International Speedway. Students also will have the opportunity to interact at-track with the car’s driver and 2010 Nationwide Series Rookie of the year, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who is serving as the national spokesperson for the Ford-AAA Auto Skills program this year.

A pool of more than 10,000 automotive technology students started the journey to the National Finals by taking an online exam in March. The 100 national finalists, who have spent countless hours preparing for the competition, reached the championship through a high score in the online exam and success at the hands-on competitions at their respective State Finals.

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