High School Students Show New Face Of Tech-Savvy Auto Technicians

Washington, D.C. – 6/14/2005

Teams From 50 States to Converge on Nation’s Capital For Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition

The face of the auto technician is changing, and high school students from across the country are representing that new image as the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, a nationwide contest aimed at encouraging students to pursue careers in automotive technology, makes its way to our nation’s capital later this month.

One team from each state has moved a step closer to becoming the best student automotive technicians in the country by winning their statewide competitions and advancing to the 2005 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills national finals on June 27. The state contests were open to all high school juniors and seniors enrolled in automotive technology courses.

“America’s best and brightest automotive students are going to showcase their talents in Washington and show how the face of the industry is changing. It is these tech-savvy, energetic students who will give a boost to the automotive profession,” said James Dunst, Competition Manager.

The contest is designed to encourage automotive students from across the country to pursue careers in the industry and continue their education learning about the high tech equipment and technology now required to service today’s vehicles.

At the national finals, the 50 teams will square off in a two-part competition comprised of a written exam and vehicle repair segment to take place near the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital.

During the hands-on portion, competitors will have to accurately diagnose and service intentionally and identically “bugged” vehicles in a set amount of time.

A single winning team will be recognized by Ford and AAA as the best student auto technicians in the nation. They as well as other competitors will be eligible for a total of more than $5 million in scholarships and prizes.

For winning their state contest, the team’s students earned scholarships in Ford Motor Co’s ASSET (Automotive Student Service Educational Training) or FACT (Ford Accelerated Credential Training) programs as well as other nationally recognized colleges and technical schools. “Careers in automotive service have never been more attractive then they are now,” said Frank Ligon, Director, Service Engineering, Ford Customer Service Division. “Ford and its dealer network are offering these contestants unparallel opportunities to train for high-tech careers in a well-compensated field.”

More than 6,000 high school juniors and seniors competed in the 2005 contest. Students particularly were encouraged to participate this year because of the declining number of service technicians nationally. Industry reports indicate a current need of approximately 32,000 service technicians. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the need for technicians will increase up to 20% by 2012. While the competition’s goal is to increase the number of qualified service personnel, students are also educated about the financial benefits of entering this job market. Entry-level technicians earn approximately $30-$35,000 per year, according to John Nielsen, Director of AAA Approved Auto Repair program, and master technicians in some areas have salaries between $70,000 and $100,000 annually.

“This competition is a great way to show students that they can have successful careers as auto technicians,” said Nielsen. “Getting a good education and experience is a great first step towards a successful career.”