Automotive service student technicians from across the country ventured to Dearborn earlier this summer to participate in the National Finals of the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, with two Texas high schoolers ending up the best in the land.
It took the pair-Garrett Johnson and Jacob Tilley of Cy Fair High School in Cypress, Texas-39 minutes, 37 seconds to diagnose and fix their deliberately bugged 2005 Ford Escape. In turn, they took home nearly $94,000 in scholarships and prizes.
The annual competition draws more than 6,000 students nationwide, AAA and Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. said. More than 50 new Ford vehicles were identically bugged for the hands-on automotive repair test.
James Dunst, Auto Skills contest manager, called student participants from all 50 states ``the most talented young automotive professionals in the country.'' No matter where they placed in the national finals, he added, the more than $5 million in scholarships and prizes the competition provides for every team will help participants continue their education.
In the competition, the vehicles had deliberately installed mechanical problems. The Texas team was the first to drive their vehicle over the finish line.
The second through 10th placed teams were, in the following order: Missouri, Montana, Oregon, North Carolina, Hawaii, Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois and Idaho.
There is a shortage of about 60,000 trained service and repair technicians, Ford and AAA said, citing the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry size is expected to increase 10-20 percent through 2010.