Earlier this month, May 2nd and 3rd, I had the pleasure to attend and help judge the New England tri-state competitions of the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition which took place in Epping New Hampshire at the New England Dragway.
The Auto Skills competition is an opportunity for the best of the best 11th/12th grade automotive technology students throughout the nation to prove their talent and dedication while gaining experience in the field. Ford/AAA are dedicated assisting students in starting careers in the automotive industry by hosting the competition and providing scholarships, and kick ass swag for everyone participating.
To qualify for the skills contest the students must complete an online automotive exam. The top 10 scoring teams from each state will then move on, and compete in a “hands on” challenge. They must diagnose 10 bugs, both technical and mechanical, in a 2014 Ford Fiesta SE in under 90 minutes. They can only use the equipment they brought with them and can receive no outside help. The goal of the challenge was to show the highest level of workmanship in the least amount of time.
So where was my part in all of this fun? I judged two New Hampshire students from Huot Technical Center-Laconia, Chris Roubo and Caleb Elliotte. As a judge, my job was to hold a box of necessary parts at the ready for the students, and should they request a part they didn’t actually need I would direct them to a “parts counter” where they’d find the unnecessary part “out of stock”. Chris and Caleb made a good showing, being one of the first teams to get their car started, unfortunately they got two wires crossed which prevented them from driving their car into the victory lane.
I was also cheering on the first all girl team of this tri-state competition, Amanda Gratton and Rylee Small from the Center for Technology in Essex Junction, Vermont. In the past I have visited their school and have always been impressed with what I’ve seen there and I’m proud that Vermont could be part of the ongoing challenge to break the stereotypes surrounding automotive industry.
After a long day of work three teams did arise victorious, the teams going on, all expenses paid, to the National competition June 8th-10th at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, MI are:
Derrick Bourgeois and Byran Deyette of Northwest Technology Center (VT), Nathan Cabral and Adam Price of Seacoast School of Technology (NH), and David Dutton and Kolbe Clifford of Portland Arts and Technology High School (ME).
AAA of New England worked really hard and put on a great competition. The night before the contest the students were treated to a delicious dinner with guest speaker Robert Hight.
Hight drives a Ford Mustang Funny Car for the John Force Racing team, a team which has collectively won the NHRA Top Fuel Funny Car competition 18 times. These vehicles are like rockets on wheels traveling speeds over 300 miles per hour.
Hight spoke to the students about the hard work and dedication it took to make his dream of being a professional drag racer a reality. His interest in cars began at a young age as he worked with his father and continued after college when he got a position on a dragster pit crew working on the clutch. Everyday he asked to drive one of the funny cars and was laughed at, until he got his big break. He took his first drive at the age of thirty and has been driving every since. He is living the dream and loving every minute of it.
Hight’s story was definitely one that inspired and impressed the students, and it seemed the feelings were reciprocated as Hight tweeted later that night saying he’s “always impressed with the level of skills from these kids”.
The event ended all too quickly, but the competition continues! Follow the action throughout the summer at Autoskills/facebook and ours as well when you’re there, to stay up to date with new blog posts and used car information you just can’t miss!