Students from across the nation tested their repair skills on 2015 Mustangs
By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of AAA and Ford Motor Company
With every new model year, our vehicles become more and more complex. Laden with technology, these vehicles require highly skilled technicians to repair them. Thatâ€™s why AAA and Ford partnered to support the Student Auto Skills competition, which held its finals at Ford World Headquarters this week.
â€œThe automotive technicians of tomorrow must be well-educated and highly skilled to meet the current and future technological advances in automotive technology,” Steve DeAngelis, Fordâ€™s Manager of Technical Support Operations, said. â€œThe people at Ford are committed to training and retaining the best technicians in the industry, which is why we are so proud of our involvement in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.â€
Winning teams from states across the nation converged on Dearborn, Michigan, to put their repair skills to the test with over $12 million scholarship prizes on the line. On Monday the student teams took a written exam which would factor into their scores, but the exciting part of the competition had them repairing 2015 Ford Mustang Fastbacks equipped with a 3.7-liter V6 engines and SelectShift six-speed automatic transmissions.
â€œFor todayâ€™s automotive technicians, being able to diagnose and repair a computer-related malfunction is just as critical as fixing mechanical failures,â€ Margaret Pittelkow, AAA Vice President, Automotive, added. â€œAs a generation that has grown up with digital technology, these students are uniquely qualified to lead the auto industry forward and you saw their brilliance on display today in a high-octane atmosphere matching the nationâ€™s best talent from coast-to-coast.â€
The Mustangs used for the competition were intentionally tampered with to create both mechanical and electronic problems for the teams to overcome. This competition was timed, so the idea was to repair the cars and drive them across the finish line as quickly as possible.
Morgan White and Jay Saunders of Vale High School in Vale, Oregonâ€”with the help of their teacher, Drew Barnesâ€”took the title as the Americaâ€™s top auto technicians. This team earned a perfect-car score by finding and fixing all the issues without any demerits. Said scoring was judged on the quality of the repairâ€™s workmanship and safety.
As a reward for its victory, the Oregon team scored a weeklong trip to Charlotte, North Carolina and Daytona Beach, Florida. While in these two racing towns, these promising technicians will watch Wood Brothers Racing prep its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford Motorcraft 21 car for its race at Daytona International Speedway.
â€œThe commitment necessary to make it to the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals was evident as I spoke with many of the students and instructors,â€ Wood Brothers Racing driver Ryan Blaney enthused. â€œOur team is extremely excited to host the Oregon team and show them behind-the-scenes at a race shop and then be part of our team in Daytona. Itâ€™s going to be a great experience for them to witness first-hand the adjustments that are made to a race car during an actual race.â€
For more on the competition, you can visit the Ford/AAA Auto Skills competition site here.