Friday, 05 April 2013 16:15

Texas Auto Students Head to SkillsUSA Competition

High school auto body students from Brownsville, TX, are headed to Corpus Christi to compete in the state SkillsUSA competition.

The auto body program at Hanna High School has two first-place entries to go with a sparkling 2000 Malibu hood that won best of show in the Rio Grande Valley, the Brownsville Herald reported.

Each entry was a group project and had to be completed on a time-limited deadline, auto body instructor Eddie Loa said.

“They were in here before school, at lunch time and after school working on their projects,” Loa said of his students. “It takes a lot of time and dedication.”

The Malibu hood that won best of show is painted in bright burnt orange over a glowering skull as background. It was the project piece of juniors Robert Uribe Jr., Jose Villarreal, Servando Garcia Jr. and Jesus Perales Jr.

“We try to get the car to come out as good as it can look, as if it was coming out of a new car showroom,” Uribe said.

All four said they have their sights set on careers in the automotive industry, but first they plan to attend the Universal Technical Institute in Houston.

A Camaro spoiler won first place for first-year auto body students Estefan Perez, Adolfo Reyes and Jairo Torres.

“It took us four weeks. It was like a countdown. We had to work very fast,” Torres said through an interpreter. He and his teammates are hearing impaired and have known each other for years. They said they like the fact that the auto body class is a hands-on class and that Loa has the patience to work with them.

Loa said the hearing-impaired students are among his highest achievers. “I would take 20 of them if I could,” he said. “They really focus on their work.”

The third first-place entry is a Ford Ranger front fender painted in a checkerboard pattern by the team of Finees Ochoa, Lidia Lopez and Jonathan Barrera.

Loa said graduates of the auto body program at Hanna can be found working in the body and paint shops at auto dealerships across Brownsville. Some attend UTI first, while others go to work straight out of high school.

Finees Ochoa, a junior, is ready to do so when the time comes.

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