On Tuesday, June 10, Justin Bublitz and Colt Morris of Grafton High School in Grafton, Wisconsin, were crowned winners of the 65th Annual National Student Auto Skills Competition sponsored by Ford and AAA, which was held at Ford World Headquarters is Dearborn, Michigan.
Racing to resolve issues
At the annual competition, dubbed "Get Your Motor Running," 50 pairs of high school student finalists from across the U.S. compete against the clock, and each other, to accurately identify and fix the deliberately implanted bugs in the car. This year, they were presented with a 2014 Ford Fusion SE, much like a professional pit crew in an automotive race.
"Oh man, we made it," Morris told the Associated Press. "It's an awesome feeling. Actually, awesome doesn't even begin to cover it. All the hard work has paid off."
Bublitz and Morris were each awarded scholarships to continue their education and pursue careers in auto repair, as well as the chance to shadow NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne's pit crew during the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona Beach, Florida, in July. As part of their shadow experience with Bayne's pit crew, Bublitz and Morris will serve as honorary pit crew members during the race and receive mentoring from Bayne himself.
"Every week, me and the other drivers get all the attention on the track," Bayne told AAA for a press release on the "Get Your Motor Running" competition. "But really, we wouldn't even be able to race if it wasn't for our crew. Our team is the best in the business. They spend their whole week working to keep that No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane car in top condition for me to race."
A positive outlook for auto repair
The Ford/AAA Auto Skills competition started with 13,000 high school competitors. These numbers are promising for the auto repair field which, according to AAA, is seeing "a rising demand for well-trained technicians that can repair both computer and mechanical components in today's advanced vehicles." The Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition enables rising automotive technicians to continue their educations and pursue careers in this ever-changing, challenging field.
As cars change, so do the skills required by those who repair them. Like Bayne said, it is easy to forget about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on to enable new, technologically advanced cars to continue to function well. With innovation in cars and the way we drive comes a need for new skills in repair shops as well.