The pair, who spent months preparing for the competition with their instructor, Donald Kessler, took home nearly $94,000 in scholarships and prizes. In total, Ford Motor Company and the American Automobile Association (AAA), handed out over $5 million in scholarships and prizes to the competition's participants, which they hope will encourage students to continue their educations and pursue careers in the automotive field.
Hard work pays off
"...Garrett and Jacob earned the right to be called America's top high school auto technician team," said James Dunst, Auto Skills contest manager. "Their hard work and desire to be the best typify the can-do spirit of all of today's participants. These are exactly the talented young men and women the auto industry needs to keep America's vehicles operating safely and trouble-free."
The Student Auto Skills competition is an annual event to determine the top high school auto technicians in the country. After completing a written exam, the 50 two-person teams - one team representing each state - gathered at Ford World Headquarters at 9:00 a.m. for the hands-on portion.
Start your engines - if you can
At 9:15 a.m., with a starting call of "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines, if you can," each team raced to the Ford Escape with the same deliberately installed mechanical problems. Once the hood was popped, they had 90 minutes to diagnose and fix any number of "bugs" in the starting, charging, ignition, cooling, electrical, lighting, braking, climate control and power train systems. The team from Texas drove their vehicle across the finish line, winning the contest.
"Millions of vehicle owners depend on well-trained auto technicians to care for the maintenance and repair needs of their cars," said John Nielsen, director of AAA's Approved Auto Repair program. "Co-sponsoring the Auto Skills contest is one way AAA continues to make sure consumers can have complete confidence they and their vehicle will be properly cared for when visiting a AAA-inspected and approved repair facility."
Prelude to great careers
"Careers in automotive service have never been more attractive than they are now," said Steve DeAngelis, manager, Technical Support Operations. "Ford and its dealer network are offering these contestants and other young people unparalleled opportunities to become trained for a career in a high-tech, well-compensated field.
"Technician positions increasingly offer benefits such as insurance coverage, paid vacations, and retirement savings programs, and co-sponsoring the Auto Skills competition is one way Ford keeps attracting the best-of-the-best young technicians to its professional technician training programs, and to careers with our dealer network," DeAngelis said.
Teams placing second through tenth in the Ford/AAA contest received total scholarship awards scaled from $31,500 down to $12,400 for each team member. Second place went to Drew Friede and Kyle Miller of Rolla Technical Institute in Rolla, Missouri. Don Lewis and Matt Huston of Capital High School in Helena, Montana, took third place.