Menu More MORE
Roadside... Roadside Assistance

Maui High Students Place Fourth in Ford/AAA National Finals

2015 Automotive skills contest

A two-student team from Maui High placed in the top five nationally at the 2015 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 Joseph Burger and David Casayuran took 42 minutes and 17 seconds to repair their deliberately bugged 2015 Ford Mustang Fastback at Ford Motor Company world headquarters, earning fourth place in the competition. The Hawaii student team submitted a car to judges which contained just one repair work demerit.  The Hawaii team also had the second-best written test score in the nation.


But Oregon’s quickest hands-on finish pushed them over the top to win the competition.  Oregon also won the 2012 competition. The top six finishers in today’s national finals were: Oregon, Alaska, North Carolina, Hawaii, Virginia and California.   


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 fifth 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 student teams have represented the state at the national finals for at least 19 years, almost annually since 1992.  They’ve placed in the top 10 for 12 years and won national titles in 1995 and 2000. The 2013 student team placed fifth.  


About 11,500 high school juniors and seniors competed in this year’s competition with $12 million in scholarships offered.  The 4th-place Hawaii team received thousands of dollars in scholarships to pursue their automotive education, along with assorted prizes and trophies.


“My students were very prepared for this highly competitive national final and they did a great job of repairing the vehicle,” said Rowe.  “I couldn’t be prouder of them and they deserve all the credit for their efforts. The team and I thank our families, our fellow instructors Neill Nakamura and Dennis Ishii and the awesome people of Hawaii.”


The repairs today included properly diagnosing and repairing multiple problems with the Ford Mustang, Rowe said.   The “bugs” ranged from bad fuses and other vehicle malfunctions that needed to be fixed, he added.


AAA Hawaii General Manager Liane Sumida said, “Our Hawaii students did a great job again today.  Joseph and David upheld the Aloha tradition of Maui High finishing very well in the highly competitive national final. This is an outstanding achievement, and we’re very proud of 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 Honolulu Community College. The Maui High students each won scholarships, and prizes for finishing first.


CST 1016202-80 Copyright © AAA Hawai'i, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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.