A two-student team from Maui High placed in the top five nationally for the second year in a row at the 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’s Chayce Mimura and Devin Vea took about 52 minutes to repair their deliberately bugged 2014 Ford Fusion at Ford Motor Company world headquarters, earning fifth place in the competition. The Hawaii student team battled hard, but Wisconsin’s hands-on finish with a “perfect vehicle” having no repair demerits sent them to the top place to win the competition.
The top five finishers in today’s national finals were: Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Maine, Oregon and Hawaii.
The Maui students were coached for the national competition by Maui High Instructor Neill Nakamura for this year’s Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals.
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 18 years, almost annually since 1992. They’ve placed in the top 10 for 12 years and won national titles in 1995 and 2000.
More than 13,000 high school juniors and seniors competed in this year’s competition with $10 million in scholarships offered. The Hawaii state champions received thousands of dollars in scholarships to pursue their automotive education, along with assorted prizes and trophies.
“We’re all honored and pleased to be here today. This is a highly competitive national final and the students did a great job of repairing their vehicle,” said Nakamura. “I’m very proud of each student and the efforts that they put forth today.”
AAA Hawaii General Manager Liane Sumida said, “Once again, our students did a great job again this morning in Michigan and upheld the tradition of Maui High placing highly in this very competitive national final. This is an outstanding result 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 http://www.facebook.com/AutoSkills and also at Twitter.com/AAAauto. High resolution photos of the top-10 teams with trophies and action photos from today’s competition will be made available to download at Flickr.com/AutoSkills. Official team photos also are available in high resolution format on Flickr.com/AutoSkills.
In May, the Maui High team won the Hawaii competition with the highest score among 10 two-student teams at Honolulu Community College. The Maui High students each won scholarships, and prizes for finishing in first place.