Cy Fair High Places 10th at AAA National Student Auto Skills ChampionshipWASHINGTON, D.C.--June 25, 2003--Two Cy Fair High School students finished 10th in the national finals of the 2003 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition held on the National Mall at the nation's capitol.
Aspiring automotive technicians Brandon Moon, 18, and John Schwarzbach, 19, represented Texas at yesterday's competition. They competed against student teams from all over the country for the national repair title and $6 million in scholarships and prizes. The pair's high school instructor is Donald Kessler, who accompanied them to the East Coast.
Students PJ Duchene, 19, and Tyler Hassler, 18, of Fairbault, Minn., won the national auto repair title.
"A tenth place finish against the rest of the country is a job well done," said AAA Texas' Pat O'Reilly. "To place in the top 10 demonstrates a talent and a desire to work among the highly qualified professionals in the auto industry." Teams placing first through 10th received scholarship awards ranging from $65,000 to $2,800.
Each team raced to a 2003 Ford Taurus with the same mechanical problems in the starting, charging, ignition, and cooling, electrical, lighting, braking, climate control and power train systems. Once the hoods were 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 Texas team finished repairing the vehicle in 62 minutes and 45 seconds.
The national competition, sponsored by AAA, is designed to find the most talented young auto technicians in the United States.
The Student Auto Skills competition, now in its 54th year, is an annual event. After completing a written exam that counted for 40 percent of their overall score, the 50 two-person teams -- one team representing each state -- gathered on the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial. At 9:15 a.m. EDT the teams got the starting call of, "Ladies and gentlemen start your engines, if you can," for the hands-on competition, which counted for 60 percent.
Today's automobile may have up to 27 onboard computers, each functioning independently. Auto technicians must not only be experts with a socket wrench, but they also must have the technical know-how of an engineer and computer whiz. The auto repair industry is still one of the nation's most in-demand and highest paying careers.
Automotive technicians are among the most sought-after and highly paid professionals in today's job market, but many high schools are reducing or eliminating automotive programs due to lack of funding and/or trained teachers. The annual demand for qualified auto technicians exceeds the supply. By 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 2010 will need 150,000 new automotive technicians. AAA sponsors the skill contest as part of its educational efforts to attract and train more young people for the automotive professions.
AAA Texas, an affiliate of AAA National, has been serving Texans since 1902. Today, more than a million AAA Texas members benefit from the organization's roadside assistance service, travel agency, financial products, insurance products and services, automotive pricing, buying and financing, trip planning services and traffic safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on AAA Texas' Web site at www.aaa-texas.com.
Note to Editors: PHOTOS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT 3 P.M. EST ON 6/24. B-roll footage is available at the following coordinates: Tuesday, June 24, 2003 AMC2, Transponder 18 DL 4060 C-Band Audio 6.2/6.8 Wednesday, June 25, 2003 1 - 1:15 PM ET June 18, 2002 1:15 - 1:30 PM ET AMC2, Transponder 11