Maui High students take fifth place in national Ford/AAA auto skills competition

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Maui High School students Mitchell Borge and Lawrence Paet, under the guidance of instructor Shannon Rowe, raced through the grease, grime and pressure of a ticking clock to earn a fifth-place finish in the 64th annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The two-student teams from each of the 50 states competed for nearly $12 million in various scholarship prizes.

For the first stage of the National Final, teams had to take a written exam testing their automotive knowledge. The top 10 highest scores then moved on to the next stage, where students worked to diagnose and de-bug their given 2013 Ford Explorer XLT’s digital, mechanical and electrical problems with speed and accuracy. After the teams were finished with their repairs, they raced to slam the hoods shut and drive their vehicles across the finish line to the awaiting judges. The score received on the written exam, combined with the hands-on portion determined the winner of the National Title.

The competition hopes to promote and prepare the next generation of technicians in automotive care.

“From connected cars to alternative fuels, automotive technology is advancing at a faster pace than we have ever seen and tomorrow’s technicians need to be savvy, innovative and eager,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, in a June 11 press release. “The Ford/AAA Auto Skills competition develops future technicians who will ensure motorists will receive access to quality repair.”

Typically, more than 13,000 teams from across the United States compete for a chance to represent their schools in the National Finals. Only 10 of the original 50 teams moved on to the hands-on portion, out of which Mitchell and Lawrence placed fifth. Vale High School, located in Vale, Ore., won the top prize, which includes the chance to shadow Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and his racing team as they prepare his car for an upcoming race.

 Photo: National Archives/Wikimedia Commons