Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
One hundred high school students from all 50 states will hear the phrase “start your engines...if you can” when they take part in the 14th Annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn on June 26. The two-person teams will race against the clock beginning at 9:15 a.m. to repair deliberately installed “bugs” in 2007 Ford Fusions and win $6 million in scholarships and prizes.
“It’s exciting to have this national competition right in our own back yard,” said Robert Kaczor, Assistant Vice President of Automotive Services for AAA Michigan and AAA Chicago. “I actually feel inspired to watch these young people performing so well under pressure. They obviously know their stuff and they feel confident in their abilities – those are great things to see in our youth and in the industry.”
Among the red and black “pit crew” uniformed youth will be Michigan representatives Alex Dobroy of Clinton and Zachary Hastings of Milan. The recent Saline high school graduates have been preparing for the competition since their victory in the statewide contest in April. They are also making fall college plans, as Hastings is headed to the University of Toledo to major in mechanical engineering and Dobroy plans to study automotive or diesel technology at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.
Saline High auto instructor Tim Timoszyk has worked with the young men throughout the past school year, his 19th year of teaching. “Tim and Alex work well together, communicate well and don’t panic,” said Timoszyk. He is sure these traits will serve them well in the national finals.
The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills program showcases the nation’s best young technicians and encourages them to continue their education and pursue their careers in the industry. More than 7,500 students from all 50 states vied for the chance to be in the final competition. The top 10 winning teams receive scholarships to help further their education and training as auto technicians and engineers.
Career opportunities will continue to be available, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the auto industry will have an average of 34,000 job openings per year through 2014, based on growth and net replacement needs.