Students from the Automotive Technology Center arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina on Thursday, April 26th to compete in the 2012 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition. This competition serves as the state finals for both North and South Carolina. Nine schools from each state were selected, based on a written test, to compete for the state championship. The written exam, similar to the Automotive Service Excellence Test (ASET), includes 50 questions, from engine performance to brake and electrical systems of the vechile. State winners advance to the National Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition in Detroit in June.
As the competition was well underway, students worked quietly and diligently to successfully fix their cars. Each pair of students was given a new 2012 Ford Fusion that was equally bugged. Students worked together to diagnose and correct all problems within 90 minutes.
"It's an honor to be recognized at this level," explained Ashley Pope, automotive technology instructor. "The opportunity for these students to compete in this competition is one of a kind."
Once finished, students are able to test drive the car. After they complete the test drive, the team then has the option to bring the car back into the bay to correct any issues they found or pull the vehicle into the final judging area to receive a "grade" for the car.
When time was called, all five I-SS teams had closed their hoods and patiently waited for final judging. Students, parents, sponsors, and staff enjoyed a catered meal as they anxiously awaited the results. Students were also taken on a tour of the speedway, which included a ride around the track.
The competition not only tests the skills that students are taught, but also their ability to listen to their instructors.
"I think the hardest part (of the competition) would be yourself," stated Kyle Ingle, senior at South Iredell High School. "As you prepare for the competition, you have to listen to your instructors instead of yourself. When you don't listen to your instructor, that's when you mess up."
As the awards were announced teams from Iredell-Statesville Schools swept the first five spots of the competition. The winning team was made up of Boone Scanlon and Robert Houck, seniors at Lake Norman High School. The team was accompanied by instructor Preston Frye. The team had the highest score based on how well they repaired the 2012 Ford Fusion at the hands-on portion of the competition. The score was based on workmanship, correct repair, and speed of the repair. The team won over $100,000 in scholarship offers, tools, and other prizes.
The automotive technology program, along with this competition, has given many students a direction for their lives.
Scanlon explained, "I think being a part of the Auto Tech center has given me a direction for my life. I know now as a senior that as I graduate I will be going to college. This has given me a direction to go in."
This year the competition was particularly special for one instructor, Shane Fox. Fox has served as an automotive technology instructor for nine years. In 1992, Fox won this same competition as a senior at West Iredell High School.
"I never thought 20 years later I would be back here as an instructor," Fox stated.
The second place team was made of West Iredell High School seniors Thomas Moore and Billy Clippard with instructor Dwayne Troutman. This team won over $54,000 in scholarship offers, tools, and other prizes.
The third place team of Jeffrey Ingle and James Ramey, seniors at South Iredell High School shared winnings of over $38,000 in scholarship offers and prizes. They were accompanied by instructor Shane Fox. Ingle and Ramey were also recognized as having the team highest written test score in North Carolina.
Fourth place went to Rusty Parker's team of Josh Lambert, senior at South Iredell High School, and Adam Hatcher, senior at Statesville High School. They won over $20,000 in scholarship offers.
Fifth place went to West Iredell High School seniors Blake Goodman and Roberto Saldana with instructor Ashley Pope. They won over $13,000 in scholarship offers.
In total students from Iredell-Statesville Schools won over $230,000 in scholarship offers and prizes. Since the introduction of Iredell-Statesville Schools Automotive Technology Center in 1996, their students have won over $2.5 million dollars of scholarship offers to many of the nation's top post-secondary institutes.