100 Student Technicians To Compete For National Auto Repair Championship
8 June 1998100 Student Technicians To Compete For National Auto Repair Championship
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 8 -- At the sound of the starter's pistol, 100 young auto repair technicians will sprint to their vehicles, open the hoods and race to repair elusive and deceptive mechanical and electrical problems. At stake is the national high school auto repair championship at the Ford/AAA STUDENT AUTO SKILLS contest to be held here on June 15. The contest will award approximately $8 million in scholarships and prizes nationwide. Fifty new Ford vehicles "bugged" with identical defects will be lined up on The Mall near the Air and Space Museum for this hands-on test of high-tech auto repair. "Fixing today's sophisticated vehicles requires as much brain power as muscle power," said James Dunst, national Auto Skills contest manager. "Diagnosing and repairing the bugs installed on these vehicles will require significant technical expertise." This year's competition will draw attention to the role technicians play in maintaining occupant safety. With safety features such as air bags, anti- lock brake systems and automatic seatbelts becoming common equipment over the last decade, technicians need to have proper training to maintain and repair them. To illustrate the technological challenges awaiting the next generation of auto technicians, the Ford MC4 concept vehicle will be on display at the contest. The vehicle features a "smart" speed control which automatically adjusts the vehicle's speed as it approaches other vehicles from behind. The MC4 also is equipped with RESCU (Remote Emergency Satellite Cellular Unit) that alerts emergency services when needed. Other attractions at the contest site include a safety belt use simulator, air bag deployment demonstration and engine tear-down by a professional racing team pit crew. The STUDENT AUTO SKILLS competition draws more than 5,000 students nationwide. Every student participating in the national finals has been offered a $3,000 scholarship to any of the 62 Asset (Automotive Student Service Educational Training) programs. Participants in the program can earn a two-year associate degree in automotive technology and get a chance to "earn-as-they-learn" by working at Ford or Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. Contest activities begin at 8:45 a.m. with the competition beginning at 9:15 a.m. and concluding at 10:45 a.m. The winners will be announced at 11:30 a.m.