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The Real World – California Students Tops in Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

Father-Son Team Wins Competition for the First Time

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Dearborn, MI Racing against the clock and 49 other two-person teams from high schools in every state, aspiring auto technicians Austin Castro and Daniel Lehmkuhl, 2007 graduates of San Luis Obispo High School, San Luis Obispo, CA, accurately diagnosed the problems and repaired their Ford Fusion in only 49 minutes and six seconds to win the 2007 FORD/AAA STUDENT AUTO SKILLS national finals at Ford World Headquarters in late June.

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First Father/Son Winner
Months of preparation with their instructor, Jeff Lehmkuhl, Daniel’s father, paid off for the pair, as they took home thousands of dollars in prizes and scholarships to a number of the nation’s top auto technology colleges. In an effort to encourage students to pursue automotive careers, Ford and AAA handed out a total of more than $6 million in prizes to competition participants.

Daniel and Austin today proved to be the best of the best high school automotive technicians in the United States," said Allan Stanley, manager of Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills. "These auto-savvy teens typify the determination and work ethic of all 100 finalists. It’s essential to the motoring public that the automotive industry attract such driven and dedicated young men and women to keep America’s vehicles operating safely and trouble free."

The California team was one of eight teams that perfectly repaired the deliberately bugged cars. They also took a written exam which was part of their final score.

"We’re really pleased," said Jeff Lehmkuhl. "We went to make California proud and we’re pretty happy now. We were sweating it out when the kids took about 10 extra minutes to fix a couple of bad window switches, but the higher written scores on the exam carried us to the top."

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When asked if the win was that much sweeter because he was coaching his son, Lehmkuhl, 44, replied, "I’m thrilled. Daniel’s been helping me in the auto shop at the high school since he was about 5 years old. And this is also a huge victory for Austin as well. He’ll get a full scholarship to attend a technical institute or college."

Lehmkuhl has taken San Luis Obispo High student teams to the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Championship in previous years where they finished 2nd, 4th and 20th. His 2007 team logged 80 hours preparing for their state competition and simulated and corrected vehicle problems, reviewed numerous text books and pored over a donated vehicle to prepare for the national championship.

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2007 Top Finishers
Alex Dobroy and Zachary Hastings, seniors at Saline High School in Saline, MI, captured second place in the competition. Third place went to Eric Hess and Christopher Wu of Doherty High School in Colorado Springs, CO.

Teams that finished second through 10th in the Ford/AAA contest received general education scholarships valued from $2,000 to $400 from Ford Motor Co. and AAA in addition to full and partial scholarships to some of the top colleges and universities offering automotive programs.

The 100 students who competed in the national finals earned their way to Dearborn from a total of more than 7,500 high school students who enrolled in the competition last fall.

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After winning their state championships in April and May, the finalists faced a two-part test for the title of America’s savviest auto techs. Following a written exam counting towards 40% of their overall score, all 50 two-person teams one per state gathered this morning on the front lawn of Ford World Headquarters for the timed, hands-on portion, worth 60% of their total score.

Debugging Begins
At 9:15 a.m., after the announcer encouraged them to "Start your engines, if you can," the teams raced to 50 Ford Fusions deliberately "bugged" with identical mechanical problems. They had 90 minutes to diagnose and repair the problems in the starting, charging, ignition, electrical, lighting, braking, climate control and/or powertrain systems. The California team drove their car across the finish line and were announced as the winners after judges determined they had removed all the bugs.

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"Professionally trained auto technicians maintain and repair the vehicles of millions of drivers every year," said John Nielsen, director of the AAA Approved Auto Repair program. "AAA has been co-sponsoring this Auto Skills contest annually since 1984 to provide motorists with the confidence that their vehicles will be properly serviced at all AAA-inspected and approved repair facilities." Darryl Hazel, senior vice president of Ford Motor Company and president, Ford Customer Service Division, said, "Ford and its dealer network offer these contestants and other talented young people unparalleled opportunities to train for a high-tech career with excellent salaries and great benefits, such as insurance coverage, paid vacation, and retirement savings programs.

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"Co-sponsoring the Auto Skills competition enables us to continue to attract the best young technicians to Ford’s professional technician training programs and to careers in our dealer network," Hazel said.

Trained automotive technicians are among the most sought-after and highly paid professionals in today’s job market, but many high schools are reducing or eliminating automotive programs due to lack of funding and/or trained teachers. AAA sponsors the skills contest as part of its educational efforts to attract and train more young people to the automotive professions.

This win really puts our program on the national map," said Jeff Lehmkuhl. "I hope that this win will attract more interest from students, and speaking as a teacher, point them in a direction that’s positive and into a field that’s rewarding, needs good people and also pays well.

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As vehicles become more advanced, Ford and AAA have partnered to assure that the new generation of automotive technicians is well educated to service the public’s motoring needs. 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.

Source: AAA and the Auto Club of Southern California

Dealerships Put Out the Help Wanted Sign for Students
McLean, VA Nearly 109,000 career jobs are available at U.S. auto dealerships (see sidebar on page 14), according to a study by Automotive Retailing Today (ART). ART, a coalition of major automobile manufacturers and dealer organizations, also found that auto dealers endorse summer jobs and internships as a means of attracting future techs to full-time careers.

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At a time when the auto industry is undergoing significant change, franchise auto dealers have a good news story about thousands of well-paying jobs currently available at dealerships across the country, said Carter Myers, chairman of Automotive Retailing Today. Students using internships or summer jobs to get experience have a foot in the door for a lucrative career of their choice.

Internships/Summer Seasonal Employment
Students who want more of a challenge than flipping hamburgers over the summer should approach an auto dealership for summer employment or pursue an internship program. Attracting todays computer savvy youth into a lucrative career is a key focus of the auto retailing industry. A majority of dealerships (68 percent) report offering summer/seasonal employment and participate in internship programs. Three-infour dealerships say that this is an effective method to identify candidates for permanent positions.

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Dealerships are high-tech facilities requiring top-notch staff with computer and technical skills, said Myers. Americas franchised auto dealers are hanging out the help wanted sign for these high-paying jobs. There is a great demand for qualified, technically savvy and educated employees. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) the shortage of employees (108,814 vacancies) is largely due to growing dealership customer services, retirements and strong vehicle sales.

Sales & Service Jobs in Greatest Demand
According to ARTs study, current vacancies by job function include:

Sales: 45,698 vacancies (Est. Salary Range for Sales Positions $31,000-$118,000)

Service: 36,456 vacancies (Est. Salary Range for Service Positions $28,000-$96,000)

Collision Repair: 7,695 vacancies (Est. Salary Range for Collision Positions $31,000-$64,000)

Parts: 6,491 vacancies (Est. Salary Range for Parts Positions $22,000-$63,000)

Dealership Administration: 5,159 vacancies (Est. Salary Range for Administration Positions $21,000-$163,000)

Other (porters, car washers, detailers, etc): 7,315 vacancies (Est. Salary Range for Other Positions $21,000-$33,000)

Details of the 2007 jobs survey, estimated salary ranges (NADA), benefits, and the 2006 Attitudes & Perceptions Survey are available at: www.autoretailing.org.

Mitchell 1 Names Automotive Technology Outstanding Student
Poway, CA Brandon Belken, who recently graduated from Tatum High School in Tatum, TX, is the 2007 recipient of the Automotive Technology Outstanding Student Scholarship. Each year, Mitchell 1 recognizes one U.S. high school senior for outstanding achievement in automotive technology scholastics. On July 19, Belken was presented with a check for $2,500 courtesy of Mitchell 1 at the North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) Conference held in Long Beach, CA.

While a senior at Tatum, Belken was enrolled in automotive classes at Kilgore (Texas) College, earning dual credits. He plans to enroll at Kilgore full-time and hopes to receive his advanced level certificate from the automotive program in May 2008. In the five NATEF-certified classes Belken has taken at Kilgore, he has received a grade of A in all five while winning the Outstanding Student Award in three of those classes. At Tatum High School, Belken was a member of the Future Farmers of America and the International Club.

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PERMATEX LAUNCHES FREE TRAINING FOR NATEF SCHOOLS
Permatex Inc. has developed a new training initiative for student technicians. The no-cost program covers the proper use and specific applications of Permatex chemical tools for gasketing, threadlocking and thread sealing. The primary focus of the initiative will be aimed at students studying at accredited National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) schools. To maximize effectiveness and make the training available to as many schools as possible, Permatex has established a separate and dedicated staff of trained professionals, who will be responsible for setting up and conducting the training program on a regional basis.

The program consists of a 60 minute in-class, hands-on training session, and is designed to fit classroom sizes from 30 – 50 students. It includes an instructors kit with lesson plan and training DVD, as well as product samples, applications charts, and product information literature for the student technicians.

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The new program will show future technicians how to save time, money and prevent comebacks by choosing the right product for the job and applying it properly. The gasketing segment covers the basics of form-in-place gasketing and gasket sealing and features Permatexs Right Stuff, an instant gasket maker, which can produce instant cut gaskets and requires no cure time. The threadlockers and retaining compounds portion shows technicians how to prevent parts loosening caused by vibration, leakage and corrosion.

For more information, visit www.permatex.com


Ford/AAA Top 10
The top ten teams in the 2007 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition were:

1st Place California: Austin Castro and Daniel Lehmkuhl; Instructor Jeff Lehmkuhl; San Luis Obispo High School, San Luis Obispo

2nd Place Michigan: Alex Dobroy and Zachary Hastings; Instructor Tim Timoszyk; Saline High School, Saline

3rd Place Colorado: Eric Hess and Christopher Wu; Instructor Brad Wheaton; Doherty High School, Colorado Springs

4th Place North Carolina: Evan Martin and Kyle Wishlinski; Instructor Martin Page; Lake Norman High School, Mooresville

5th Place Virginia; Douglas Dunn and Gaetano Guiffre; Instructor Scott Freeman; Fauquier High School, Warrenton

6th Place Ohio: Michael George and William Hrabowy; Instructor Dave Gillies; Trumbull Career & Technical Center, Warren

7th Place Oklahoma: Jesse Cobb and Christopher Johnson; Instructor Randy Henderson; Mid America Technology Center, Wayne

8th Place Massachusetts: Daniel Svizzero and Nicholas Wood; Instructor David Haskins; South Shore Vocational Technical High School, Hanover

9th Place Oregon: Levi Tolman and Chase Williams; Instructor Merle Saunders; Vale High School, Vale

10th Place Hawaii: Brandon Sato and Dustin Texeira; Instructor Neill Nakamura; Maui High School, Kahului

Source: AAA


 

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