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Ohio Students Win Ford/AAA National Auto Repair Title

CLICK4 List Of 2002 Finalists

CLIC4VIDEO of last years competition.

(Full piece (02:30)Last years top five team interviews start at 3:15)

WASHINGTON--June 17, 2002--Racing against the clock and against 49 other student teams from around the country, aspiring auto technicians Waylon Tilley, 18, and Matthew Snodgrass, 18, of Buckeye Hills Career Center in Rio Grande, Ohio needed only 46 minutes to fix their vehicle to win the 2002 FORD/AAA STUDENT AUTO SKILLS national finals this morning on the National Mall.

The pair, who spent months preparing for the competition with their instructor, Douglas Crabtree, took home nearly $100,000 in scholarships and prizes for their school. In total, Ford and AAA handed out over $8 million in prizes to the competition's participants, which they hope will encourage students to pursue careers in the automotive field.

"Today, Waylon and Matthew earned the right to be called America's top high school auto technician team," said James Dunst, Auto Skills contest manager. "The talent and skills of all of today's participants are valuable assets to the auto industry. We are proud to sponsor this competition and encourage all the teams to keep honing the craft."

The Student Auto Skills competition, now in its 63rd year, is an annual event to determine the top high school auto technicians in the country.

After completing a written exam that counted for 40 percent of the their overall score, the 50 two-person teams - one team representing each state - gathered on the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial at 7:45 a.m. for the hands-on portion, which counted for 60 percent.

At 9:15 a.m., with a starting call of, "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines, if you can," each team raced to a 2002 Ford Mustang with the same mechanical problem. 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 powertrain systems. The team from Ohio drove their car across the finish line, winning the contest.

Today's automobile may have up to 27 onboard computers, each functioning independently. Auto technicians must not only be experts with a socket wrench, they also must have the technical know-how of an engineer and computer whiz. John Nielsen, Director of AAA's Auto Repair Network, estimates that quality auto technicians can earn salaries in the six-figure range.

That, along with recent news from a government report indicating a growing shortage in the field, makes the automotive field an increasingly attractive career option for high school students. By 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 150,000 new auto technicians will be needed.

"Many a high school senior may be unsure of his or her future, particularly as the graduation season sets in," said Nielsen. "Now more than ever, the automotive field is a viable option. Interesting, highly technical positions with great financial incentives are available for students that love cars and love to be challenged."

Teams placing second through tenth received scholarship awards scaled from $52,500 to $13,400. Second place went to Douglas McCarthy, 18, and Steven Colbert, 18, of Wayne Tech & Career Center in Williamson, New York. Tony Kelly, 18, and Nathanial Greenough, 18, of South Shore Vo Tech in Hanover, Massachusetts, took third place.

And it's not just high school students competing at today's event. For the second year in a row, The Professional Technician Society Ultimate Master Technician Challenge is being held in conjunction with the competition.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

The top ten winners in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition were:

  • 1st Place… OHIO (Waylon Tilley, 18, and Matthew Snodgrass, 18, instructor: Douglas Crabtree)
  • 2nd Place… NEW YORK (Douglas McCarthy, 18, and Steven Colbert, 18, instructor: Chet Kuhn)
  • 3rd Place… MASSACHUSETTS (Tony Kelly, 18, and Nathanial Greenough, 18, instructor: David Haskins)
  • 4th Place… WYOMING (David Boomgarden, 18, and Chris Ralph, 18, instructor: Gerald Howie)
  • 5th Place… IDAHO (Ted Owen, 18, and Jeremy Phelps, 18, instructor: Roy Angle)
  • 6th Place… UTAH (Justin Larson, 18, and Gerald Holt, 18, instructor: Archie Romney)
  • 7th Place… HAWAII (Nicolas Lau, 17, and David Blevins, 17, instructor: Neill Nakamura)
  • 8th Place… NEVADA (Abrahm Schank, 18, and Nicholas Thompson, 18, instructor: Richard Evans)
  • 9th Place… MAINE (Eric Kaherl, 18, and Michael Bailey, 18, instructor: Daniel Reny)
  • 10th Place… COLORADO (Kyle Wright, 19, and Matthew Campeau, 18, instructor, Jeep Parkhill)

The team from CANADA placed first among international teams.