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Maui High Students In Top Five At National Ford/AAA Auto Skills Contest

 A two-student team from Maui High placed in the top five nationally at the 2013 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Finals this morning.   The competition, sponsored by Ford Motor Company and AAA, is designed to find the best automotive technology students across the U.S.   

Maui High graduates Mitchell Borge and Lawrence Paet took 73 minutes and 58 seconds to repair their deliberately bugged 2013 Ford Explorer XLTs at Ford Motor Company world headquarters, earning fifth place in the competition. The Hawaii student team submitted a “perfect SUV” to judges which contained no repair work demerits.  But Oregon’s quickest hands-on finish of 55 minutes and 57 seconds pushed them over the top to win the competition.  Oregon also won last year’s competition. 

The top five finishers in today’s national finals with perfectly repaired vehicles were: Oregon, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois and Hawaii.   

The Maui students were coached by Maui High Instructor Shannon Rowe, a former Hawaii state champion of the Ford/AAA competition, who also was a second-place finisher at the national finals in 1996.  This was his fourth trip to the national finals as an instructor.

The annual competition gives auto tech students the opportunity to showcase their automotive problem-solving capabilities by resolving “real world” vehicle repair challenges in a timed, head-to-head match-up of top teams from 50 states. 

Kahului-based Maui High teams have represented the state at the national finals for at least 17 years, almost annually since 1992.  They’ve placed in the top 10 for 11 years and won national titles in 1995 and 2000. Last year’s team placed second.  

More than 13,000 high school juniors and seniors competed in this year’s competition with $11 million in scholarships offered.  The 5th-place Hawaii team received thousands of dollars in scholarships to pursue their automotive education, along with assorted prizes and trophies.

“My students were well-prepared for this highly competitive national final and they did a great job of repairing the vehicle. They submitted a ‘perfect SUV’ for judging,” said Rowe.  “They found all the problems with the vehicle, and repaired them.  I’m very proud of each student and their efforts.”

Mitchell and Lawrence submitted a perfectly repaired Explorer for judging, which only the top five finishers achieved this morning, according to Rowe.  The repairs included properly diagnosing and repairing multiple problems with the Ford Explorer, he said.   The “bugs” ranged from bad fuses, an unplugged alternator, an air conditioner vent that needed to be fixed among others, he added.

AAA Hawaii General Manager Liane Sumida said, “Our students did a great job today and upheld the tradition of Maui High finishing well in the highly competitive national final. This is an outstanding achievement for them.”  

The competition, which is geared toward students looking to jumpstart their automotive careers, is especially relevant for today’s recovering  economy, as car owners are putting more money into repair and maintenance to  avoid a new car purchase. The U.S. Dept. of Labor reports that this trend, as well as advancements in automotive technology, means an increase in the demand for quality repair work and a rise in job opportunities for those automotive technicians who complete postsecondary education—something the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition helps students pursue by offering scholarships.

Find today’s Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals updates and photographs on Facebook at and also at  High resolution photos of the top-10 teams with trophies and action photos from today’s competition will be made available to download at Official team photos also are available in high resolution format on

In May, the Maui High team won the Hawaii competition with the highest score among 10 two-student teams at Leeward Community College. The Maui High students each won scholarships, and prizes for finishing in first place.

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AAA Hawai'i is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the state of Hawai'i.