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Thursday, 21 February 2013 22:25

Three California Auto Tech Schools Compete in SkillsUSA

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As they displayed their skills at a regional SkillsUSA competition on January 26 at Eden Area ROP in Hayward, CA, top students from three automotive tech schools vied for medals and a trip to the state finals in San Diego, CA, on April 4-7.

Thirty-five high school and college students studying automotive collision repair from Eden Area ROP, Central County Occupational Center (CCOC) in San Jose, CA, and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, CA, competed in two categories: collision repair and autobody refinishing/paint. With 12 medal winners overall, each of the schools were well represented, but in the end, Eden Area ROP took eight medals, under the direction of Head Instructor Daniel Pareja.

SkillsUSA is a highly-respected national organization for students in trade, industrial, technical and health occupations education. It sponsors the SkillsUSA regional, state and national competitions annually, designed to test the skills needed for a successful entry level performance in given occupational fields, including collision repair.


With local collision professionals on hand to judge every aspect of the competition, the regionals were broken down into a series of tests, including a written estimate, a five-minute job interview and an ASE-type written test in both categories. For the collision repair students, they also had to repair three dents in a fender, showing their metal repair skills, as well as taking a hands-on welding test. For the auto body refinishing/paint students, they had to paint and clear coat a car panel and show their masking, filling and prepping skills on a van. Pareja was happy to see a high level of competition and enthused that so many students were involved.

“These competitions provide a great opportunity to see what our top students can do, because this is the real thing,” Pareja said. “The students are out there all alone, so the pressure is intense. They’re not able to ask questions and the clock is running, so the students get to find out what they’re capable of and where their skills compare to the other schools.”

Special recognition goes out to all the local collision professionals that volunteered their time and/or company’s products and also acted as judges at the competition.

Paint was donated by Martin Auto Color and PPG; Pete Fralic from Total Sales donated all of the sand paper, safety equipment and fillers; William Garcia and Matt Green from D&S Body Shop were judges in the paint category; Richard Mello from TGIF Auto Body was a judge in the estimating part of the competition; Barbara Juarez, a welding instructor at Eden Area ROP, was a judge; Juan Martinez from Komatsu was a judge, and David Gill from Pacific Credit Union conducted all of the job interviews. Chris Pareja from B-to-B Power Exchange also judged the interviews and Bill Andrews, head instructor from the College of Alameda, judged the masking and prepping tests.


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