The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, a program of West Virginia University, sponsored the recently conducted 64th annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Competition.
Automotive students from across the U.S. gathered in Dearborn, Mich., as two-student teams representing all 50 states engaged in a race against the clock – and one another – in an effort to earn the national champion title at Ford World Headquarters.
Winners were selected on June 10, 2013. The duo of Logan Boyle and Cody Collins from Vale High School in Vale, Ore. claimed the crown of America's top auto technicians, registering the day's top score under the guidance of instructor Drew Barnes. Information on the other winning teams can be found at https://autoskills.aaa.com/web/sas/state-winners.
"From connected cars to alternative fuels, automotive technology is advancing at a faster pace than we have ever seen and tomorrow's technicians need to be savvy, innovative and eager," said Marshall L. Doney, AAA senior executive vice president and chief operating officer. "The Ford/AAA Auto Skills competition develops future technicians who will ensure motorists will receive access to quality repair."
Winning teams received nearly $12 million dollars in scholarship prizes, including a scholarship to the first place team to attend the NAFTC Electric Drive Vehicle Automotive Technician Training, and a 1-year NAFTC national associate training center membership. The 40-hour electric drive vehicle automotive technician training course was developed as part of the advanced electric drive vehicle education program, a U.S. Department of Energy initiative designed to educate various groups, including secondary school automotive technicians, about their roles in preparing America for alternative transportation, specifically electric drive vehicles.
The training provides participants with information on fundamentals, system design, diagnostic considerations and special service topics of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The course explains appropriate safety measures in maintaining advanced electric drive vehicles and describes electric propulsion systems including construction; operation; control strategies; service tools; scan tool data; and basic diagnostic fundamentals.
Second and third place winners were also awarded a 1-year NAFTC national associate training center membership, in addition to an assortment of workshop booklets and training manuals, from the NAFTC's library of curricula.
"The NAFTC is proud to support the Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition," said Bill Davis, NAFTC acting director. "These participants represent the best young automotive technicians in the country. Automotive consumers will rely on their skills and expertise for decades to come. As alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles continue to increase in popularity, it will become more and more important that technicians like Logan and Cody are prepared to work on them. The NAFTC is proud to offer these new technicians the opportunity to increase their knowledge of alternative fuels."
Auto Skills participants solve "real world" automotive challenges – both digital and mechanical – in a timed competition that required a quick mind and steady hands as top auto students worked with wrenches and computers alike. With automotive sales up across the board, and new and innovative technologies becoming a bigger part of the manufacturing process, the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition is shaping the next generation of auto technicians who will work on these vehicles.
Beginning with a shotgun start, the student competitors (all paired in two-person teams) raced to their vehicles to review a work order that challenged them to diagnose and repair a number of purposefully placed "bugs" ranging from digital to mechanical and electrical. Once the repairs were completed, it was a race to shut the hood, fire up the engine and steer the vehicle across the finish line – where a scrutinizing judging team awaited.
To earn the national title, Vale High School earned a "perfect car" score by flawlessly repairing all the "bugs" without any demerits. Combined with the results of a written examination taken on June 10, their score allowed them to hoist the trophy as national champions.