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National Student Auto Skills Competition Helps Develop Next Generation of Automotive Technicians

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(credit: istock) Technology Report
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DEARBORN — One hundred of the nation’s best young automotive minds will converge on the Motor City to compete for the title of top high school technicians in the country at the 64th Ford-AAA Student Auto Skills Competition National Finals June 9-11. 

With jobs in the auto industry on the rise — up over 30 percent since last April according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — the Ford-AAA Student Auto Skills challenge serves as a springboard for students to launch their careers.

This year’s young auto champions will be crowned June 11 at Ford Motor Co. World Headquarters in Dearborn from a field that includes 98 male and two female students.

The annual competition features top high school automotive technology students from all 50 states, with each state represented by a two-student team and 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 race against the clock and each other to identify glitches and repair deliberately installed “bugs” in identical 2013 Ford Explorer XLTs. The team with the best combined written and hands-on score will win the national championship.

The road to Dearborn began in January when nearly 13,000 high school juniors and seniors took an online exam testing their automotive technology knowledge, and will culminate with one team taking home the title of national champion.

In addition to scholarships and prizes, this year’s national champions will earn a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain hands-on experience through a weeklong job shadow experience with auto racing royalty, Wood Brothers Racing’s legendary 21 Motorcraft-Quick Lane Ford Fusion team and 2011 Daytona 500 Winner Trevor Bayne leading up to and during the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona Beach, Fla. this July.

For these two auto student national champions and their instructor, this extraordinary job shadow experience extends from a high-tech performance garage in North Carolina to the world-famous Daytona International Speedway. It includes the following:
* Immersion of the winning students into the Wood Brothers Racing team as these expert auto technicians prepare for one the biggest events on the Sprint Cup Series calendar – the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6
* Serving as honorary pit crew members on the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion under the guidance of Crew Chief Donnie Wingo
* Mentoring by No. 21 driver Trevor Bayne at both the Wood Brothers Racing shop in Harrisburg, N.C. and also trackside at Daytona

“Each week, me and the other drivers get all the attention on the track,” Bayne said.  “But really, we couldn’t even get out there and run without our crew.  These guys I work with are the best in the business. It’s pretty amazing what they do and how they work all week long to keep that No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane car in top condition for me.

“The Ford-AAA Student Auto Skills Competition is a great opportunity for thousands of students across the country who really love working on cars and want to get into the industry.  I’m pretty excited to see these National Champions because really, this will help them see they may be young but they can work on the world’s best cars themselves. And hey, who knows, I could end up seeing these students on our pit crew one day!”

Founded in 1950, Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team in NASCAR. The Wood Brothers have won 14 Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway, more than any other team in the sport. The Wood Brothers’ most recent trip to victory lane came at the 2011 Daytona 500, when then 20-year-old Bayne become the youngest driver ever to win NASCAR’s most prestigious race.

As cars continue to become more advanced, Ford is leading the way with new technologies such as all-electric vehicles, adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake assist, hands-free entertainment and communication systems. Understanding the mechanics behind these technologies is essential to the future of the automotive industry, the Ford-AAA Student Auto Skills challenge focuses on technological practices, while educating the next generation of technicians in traditional mechanical principles so they will be able to understand and on new vehicles.

Ford-AAA Student Auto Skills enables many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry to help fuel the rising demand for well-trained technicians that can repair both computer and mechanical components in today’s advanced vehicles.  Both the national and the state-wide competitions are organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.

The competition awards nearly $12 million in scholarships to thousands of high school auto students each year, including the national title winners, allowing them to further their education in this rapidly changing industry.

More at http://autoskills.aaa.com/.

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