Posts Tagged ‘Ford’

Ginnie PritchettHigh school students across America compete for the opportunity to represent their state in the 64th Annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Challenge

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 2, 2013) – The nation’s best young automotive minds  from coast-to-coast are gearing up for the 2013 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Challenge State Hands-On competitions, which kick off Tuesday, April 16 with an event in Jackson, Miss.

Competitions continue across the country through May 14, with the top team from each state advancing to the national finals at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan June 9 – 11. At the national finals, champions from all 50 states will compete against one another for the right to call themselves the top young auto technicians in America and take home millions of dollars in scholarships.

Below are the dates and locations of all 50 2013 FORD AAA State Hands-On Competitions:

Jackson, Miss.  – Tuesday, April 16

Birmingham, Ala. – Tuesday, April 17

Lexington, Ky. – Wednesday, April 17

Alexandria, La. – Thursday, April 18

Sioux Falls, S.D. – Thursday, April 18

Sanford, Fla. – Friday, April 19

Pearl City, Hawaii – Saturday, April 20

Warren, Mich. – Wednesday, April 24

Warminster, Pa. – Wednesday, April 24

Milford, Neb. – Thursday, April 25

Okmulgee, Okla. – Thursday, April 25

Anchorage, Alaska – Friday, April 26

Little Rock, Ark. – Friday, April 26

Atlanta, Ga. – Friday, April 26

Indianapolis, Ind. – Friday, April 26

La Porte, Texas – Friday, April, 26

Baltimore, Md. – Saturday, April 27

Brooklyn Park, Minn. – Wednesday, May 1

Atco, N.J. – Wednesday, May 1

Bridgeport, W.Va. – Wednesday, May 1

Helena, Mont. – Thursday, May 2

Nashville, Tenn. – Thursday, May 2

Sandy, Utah – Thursday, May 2

Warwick, R.I. – Thursday, May 2

Cheyenne, Wyo. – Thursday, May 2

Glendale, Ariz. – Friday, May 3

Danville, Calif. – Friday, May 3

Pomona, Calif. – Friday, May 3

Nampa, Idaho – Friday, May 3

Charlotte, N.C./S.C. – Saturday, May 4

Albuquerque, N.M. – Saturday, May 4

Virginia Beach, Va. – Saturday, May 4

Renton, Wash. – Tuesday, May 7

Ankeny, Iowa – Tuesday, May 7

Dover, Del. – Wednesday, May 8

Norwood, Mass. – Wednesday, May 8

Mequon, Wis. – Wednesday, May 8

North Haven, Conn. – Thursday, May 9

Sparks, Nev. – Thursday, May 9

Fargo, N.D. – Thursday, May 9

Kansas City, Mo./Kan. – Thursday, May 9

Toledo, Ohio – Friday, May 10

Champaign, Ill. – Friday, May 10

Gresham, Ore. – Friday, May 10

Denver, Colo. – Saturday, May 11

Epping, N.H./Maine/Vt. – Saturday, May 11

Morrisville, N.Y. – Tuesday, May 14

At the State Hands-On Competition, teams will race against the clock to correctly diagnose and repair a deliberately “bugged” 2013 Ford Focus SE. A combination of the online written exam and hands-on competition scores determine each state’s championship team that will compete in the national finals. For additional details on 2013 State Hands-On Competition locations and dates, visit Autoskills.AAA.com.

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition is open to 11th and 12th grade students in secondary schools and colleges across the country that offer courses in automotive technology. Schools may enter one two-student team per instructor. Teams competing in the State Hands-On Competitions represent the 10 teams that scored highest on a statewide online written exam, administered at the beginning of the competition in January.

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition enables many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry to help fuel the rising demand for well-trained technicians that can repair both computer and mechanical components in today’s advanced vehicles.  Both the national and the state-wide competitions are organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a free public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that offers millions in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians.  More than 13,000 students from across the U.S. compete for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit http://autoskills.aaa.com/.

Michael Green Contact TileHearing to highlight need for consumer protections, education and additional research on E15

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 26, 2013) – AAA President & CEO Robert L. Darbelnet will testify today before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment that regulators and industry should suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are better protected. AAA will highlight the inadequate consumer protections and education efforts to date and will express support for additional testing by the National Academy of Sciences.

“Congress’ decision to examine potential problems associated with the sale of E15 is encouraging news for motorists,” said Darbelnet. “Most drivers are unaware of the potentially harmful effects of E15 and have not been properly educated about this new fuel entering the market.”

Additional Resources

  • Click here to listen to a AAA interview with Robert L. Darbelnet on E15

The hearing will examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to allow the sale of E15, a blend of gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol. The subcommittee scheduled the hearing partly in response to AAA’s recent findings that E15 may cause consumer confusion, void warranties and contribute to vehicle damage.

“AAA is not opposed to ethanol, but we are against the way E15 has been introduced and sold to consumers,” continued Darbelnet. “We welcome the committee’s support today as AAA calls for additional impartial research and for regulators and industry to suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are properly educated and protected.”

The subcommittee hearing, “Mid-Level Ethanol Blends: Consumer and Technical Research Needs,” is scheduled for Feb. 26 at 2:00 PM EST in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

A AAA survey last fall found that only 12 million out of the 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15. Five manufacturers stated their warranties would not cover fuel-related claims caused by E15, and eight additional manufacturers stated that E15 did not comply with fuel requirements in owners’ manuals and may void warranty coverage.

AAA’s automotive engineering experts believe that sustained use of E15 could result in costly problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false “check engine” lights in some cars. An overwhelming 95 percent of consumers surveyed by AAA were not familiar with E15, indicating a strong likelihood of consumer confusion leading to misfueling.

Both E10 and E85 provide options for consumers at this point. Ethanol-blended fuels have the potential to support American jobs, promote American energy independence and save Americans money. More than 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States is E10, which contains up to 10 percent ethanol. E85, which contains up to 85 percent ethanol, is designed for use by flex-fuel vehicles.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Suspend Sale of E15 Gasoline

December 17th, 2012 by AAA

By Robert L. Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA

Published first in The Hill on Dec. 13, 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and gasoline retailers should suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until more is done to protect consumers from the potential for costly auto damage and voided warranties.

Additional Resources

Research to date raises serious concerns that E15, a fuel blend consisting of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, could cause accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel system damage and other problems such as false “check engine” lights.

The potential damage could result in costly repairs for unsuspecting consumers. This is especially tough for most motorists given that only about 40 percent of Americans have enough in savings to afford a major auto repair.

In June, the EPA approved the use of E15, and a handful of gas stations in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas have begun to sell this fuel. There is a strong likelihood that retailers will market E15 in additional states soon unless regulators take immediate action to protect consumers.

Nearly all of the gasoline sold in the United States today is E10, which contains up to ten percent ethanol, primarily produced from corn. The ethanol industry has lobbied hard to increase the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline as a way to increase sales and help meet the Renewable Fuels Standard.

AAA’s concern with E15 is not about ethanol. In fact, AAA believes that ethanol-blended fuels have the potential to save Americans money and reduce the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels. The problem is that available research, including the EPA’s exhaust emissions tests, is not sufficient evidence that E15 is safe to use in most vehicles.

The ethanol industry’s response to reports of damage caused by E15 is that it is the most tested fuel in the EPA’s history.  The caveat to this assertion is that while the agency did test E15, their research focused primarily on exhaust emissions and associated components such as catalytic converters. While this research was consistent with the EPA’s mission, it never fully examined whether E15 might damage engines and fuel systems.

Some of those supporting E15 admit the fuel may cause damage. For example, the Renewable Fuels Association warned retailers that some underground storage tank systems, both new and used, exhibited reduced levels of safety and performance when exposed to E15. In addition, earlier this year the industry testified before Congress in support of legislation that proposed to give fuel producers blanket liability protections, while providing no protections to motorists. If the industry is not confident enough to take responsibility for the risks of E15, is it right that the risks be passed onto consumers?

Automakers advise they may void warranties for anyone using E15. Five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) state their warranties will not cover E15 claims. Eight additional automakers (GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) state that E15 does not comply with fuel requirements specified in most owners’ manuals and may void warranties. It is difficult to comprehend why the EPA would choose to ignore all these warnings.

The automakers’ position is understandable given that most cars were never designed for E15. Only about five percent, or 12 million of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on U.S. roads today, are approved by manufacturers to use the fuel. These vehicles include flex-fuel models, 2001 and newer Porsches, 2012 and newer GM vehicles and 2013 Fords. So unless you drive a Porsche or a brand new car, you could be out of luck when it comes to E15.

The only responsible action to take now is to suspend the sale of E15 until consumers are better informed and protected at the pump. AAA did not come to this decision lightly. We arrived at this recommendation only after extensively reviewing the existing research, surveying automakers and conducting a national poll finding that only five percent of Americans had heard of E15.

The simple truth is that E15 is a product not yet ready for public consumption, and government regulators have an obligation to suspend sales until these issues are addressed.

AAA recommends the EPA, fuel producers and automakers collectively develop a long-term plan that promotes public education, while implementing improved labeling and warnings at the pump. Additional research also is necessary to better understand the full consequences of using E15 in older and newer vehicles.

AAA urges regulators and the renewable fuels industry to consider the interests of consumers first by immediately suspending the sale of E15 before American motorists are left footing the bill.

AAA research reveals need for regulators and industry to suspend E15 sales to protect motorists

ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 30, 2012) – A recent survey by AAA finds a strong likelihood of consumer confusion and the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent approval of E15 gasoline. An overwhelming 95 percent of consumers surveyed have not heard of E15, a newly approved gasoline blend that contains up to 15 percent ethanol. With little consumer knowledge about E15 and less than five percent of cars on the road approved by automakers to use the fuel, AAA is urging regulators and the industry to stop the sale of E15 until motorists are better protected.

Additional Resources

Only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15 gasoline, based on a survey conducted by AAA of auto manufacturers. AAA automotive engineering experts also have reviewed the available research and believe that sustained use of E15 in both newer and older vehicles could result in significant problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false “check engine” lights for any vehicle not approved by its manufacturer to use E15.

“It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” said AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers.”

Unsuspecting consumers using E15 could end up with engine problems that might not be covered by their vehicles’ warranties. Five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) are on record saying their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15. Eight additional automakers (GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) have stated that the use of E15 does not comply with the fuel requirements specified in their owner’s manuals and may void warranty coverage.

The only vehicles currently approved by automakers to use E15 are flex-fuel models, 2001 model-year and newer Porsches, 2012 model-year and newer GM vehicles and 2013 model-year Ford vehicles. These approvals extend only to cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs). The use of E15 is expressly prohibited in heavy-duty vehicles, boats, motorcycles, power equipment, lawn mowers and off-road vehicles.

“The sale and use of E15 should be suspended until additional gas pump labeling and consumer education efforts are implemented to mitigate problems for motorists and their vehicles,” continued Darbelnet. “Consumers should carefully read pump labels and know their auto manufacturer’s recommendations to help prevent any problems from E15.”

AAA urges fuel producers and regulators to do a better job of educating consumers about potential dangers before selling E15 gasoline. This outreach should include a consumer education campaign and more effective pump labels, among other potential safeguards to protect consumers and their vehicles. AAA also recommends additional testing to conclusively determine the impact of E15 use on vehicle engines and fuel system components. At least  ten gas stations currently sell E15 and that number is expected to grow, which means now is the time to suspend sales before more retailers begin offering the fuel.

The EPA in June officially approved the sale of E15 after receiving a waiver request from producers interested in expanding the use of corn-based ethanol. Despite objections by auto manufacturers, the EPA approved the use of E15 gasoline in flex-fuel vehicles and 2001 model year and newer cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles and SUVs. AAA urges consumers to follow the recommendations of manufacturers to truly protect themselves from voided warranties or potential damage.

AAA supports the development and use of alternative fuels. More than 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States contains up to 10 percent ethanol. Lower ethanol blends should remain available to consumers while the challenges with E15 are addressed.

The survey findings related to consumer knowledge of E15 are from a telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,012 adults comprising 504 men and 508 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

63rd annual auto technology showdown matches top high school student teams from all 50 states; nearly $12 million in scholarships is awarded to help refuel auto industry’s next generation of talent

ErinSteppDEARBORN, Mich. (June 12, 2012) – In a face-to-face showdown of top student teams from all 50 states, the Kansas  team triumphed over the field to become known as the nation’s brightest young auto technology minds, as the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills concluded its 63rd year in thrilling fashion.

Taking the crown as the “best of the best” was the two-student team from Newton, KS consisting of Bryce Banks and Jedediah Redger, as their Newton High School team recorded the day’s top score under the tutelage of instructor Cory Unruh.

Additional Resources

With nearly $12 million dollars in scholarship prizes in the balance, state winners gathered today at the Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn to solve “real world” automotive challenges – both digital and mechanical – in a timed competition that required a quick mind and steady hands as top auto students worked with wrenches and computers alike.   The finish topped off a banner year for the competition, which set several milestones in 2012, including a record number of students, instructors and schools participating, as well as the highest number of female competitors in event history.

Beginning with a shotgun start, the student competitors (all paired in two-person teams) raced to their vehicles to review a work order that challenged them to diagnose and repair a number of purposefully placed “bugs” ranging from digital to mechanical and electrical. Once the repairs were completed, it was a race to shut the hood, fire up the engine and steer the vehicle across the finish line – where a scrutinizing judging team awaited.

To earn the National Title, Newton High School earned a “perfect car” score by flawlessly repairing all the “bugs” without any demerits. Combined with the results of an examination taken the day before, their score allowed them to hoist the trophy as national champions.

The top-10 teams in the 2012 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals were:

[LISTED FROM #1-10, as such]

1 Kansas: (Bryce Banks and Jedediah Redger), Newton High School, Newton KS, Instructor Cory Unruh

2 Michigan: (Evan Fischbach and Thomas Michaluk) Saline High School, Saline, MI Instructor Timothy Timoszyk

3 Illinois: (Ryan Orlando and Mark O’Hara), Willowbrook High School, Villa Park, IL Instructor Christopher Feid

4 Utah: (Jordan Kearns and Chandler Adkins), Riverton High School, Riverton, UT, Instructor Jay Hales

5 Oklahoma: (Alexander Versteeg and Connor Hixenbaugh), Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center, Choctaw, OK, Instructor Jimmy Lafevers

6 Mississippi: (Daniel Williams and Hayden Beard), Clinton Vocational Center, Clinton, MS, Instructor Charlie Melton

7 New Mexico: (Konnor Davis and James Primmer), Career Enrichment Center, Albuquerque, NM, Instructor Mark Mulroy

8 Missouri: (Aaron Findling and Shelby Middleton), Moberly Area Technology Center, Moberly, MO, Instructor Charles Magruder

9 New Hampshire: (Ben Noonan and Devon Wade), Mascenic Automotive Career Center, New Ipswich, NH, Instructor Vincent Fittante

10 Arizona: (Eric Stover and David Mora), Centennial High School, Peoria, AZ Instructor, Stephen Maish

In addition to scholarships, the National Champion Kansas team will enjoy an immersive, weeklong job shadow experience with 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and his Wood Brothers Racing team, as they prepare the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion car for the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona Beach, Fla. – the famous site of Bayne’s spectacular win at age 20.

“For today’s automotive technicians, being able to diagnose and repair a computer-related malfunction is just as critical as fixing mechanical failures,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA National Vice President, Automotive, Financial Services and e-Business. “As a generation that has grown up with digital technology, this year’s students are uniquely qualified to lead the auto industry forward in this country and you saw their brilliance on display today in a high-octane atmosphere matching the nation’s best talent from coast-to-coast.”

“The automotive technicians of tomorrow must be well-educated and highly-skilled to meet the current and future technological advances in automotive technology,” said Steve DeAngelis, Ford’s Global Manager of Technical Support Operations. “The people at Ford are committed to training and retaining the best technicians in the industry, which is why we are so proud of our continued involvement in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, which invests in our highly-skilled technicians of tomorrow.”

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that offers nearly $12 million in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians.  More than 13,000 students from across the U.S. compete for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit http://autoskills.aaa.com/.

 

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Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills participants to compete in National Finals; Champs will receive hands-on experience with NASCAR’s longest-tenured team

ORLANDO, Fla., (June 6, 2012) –  One hundred of the nation’s best young automotive technicians will compete in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition National Finals June 10–12, with the championship student team earning a weeklong job shadow experience with auto racing royalty – former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and his Wood Brothers Racing team.

Working underneath of the hood of the Daytona 500 champion’s car isn’t the only benefit coming their way: the famed Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, now in its 63rd year, awards nearly $12 million in scholarships to thousands of high school auto students each year, including the national title winners.

This year’s young auto kings will be crowned June 12 at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The annual competition features top high school automotive technology students from all 50 states, with each state represented by a two-student team and their high school instructor. At the National Finals, the students will have their automotive skills and knowledge put to the test with a written exam and a timed event in which they will race against the clock and each other to identify glitches and repair deliberately-installed “bugs” in identical 2012 Ford Fiestas. The team with the best combined written and hands-on score will win the national championship.

The road to Dearborn began in February when nearly 13,000 high school juniors and seniors took an online exam testing their automotive technology knowledge. The 2012 edition of the Ford/Auto Skills Competition has already set several milestones, including a record number of students, instructors and schools participating, as well as the highest number of female competitors in event history.

For the national title winners, shadowing Wood Brothers Racing’s legendary 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team leading up to and during the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona Beach, Fla. will be particularly significant – it’s the site of Trevor Bayne’s spectacular burst into racing stardom when he won the 2011 Daytona 500 at the age of 20. For these two auto student national champions and their instructor, this extraordinary job shadow experience extends from a high-tech performance garage in North Carolina to the world-famous Daytona International Speedway. It promises the following:

  • Immersion of the winning students into the Wood Brothers Racing team as these expert auto technicians prepare for one the biggest events on the Sprint Cup Series calendar – the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7
  • Serving as honorary pit crew members on the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion under the guidance of Crew Chief Donnie Wingo
  • Mentoring by No. 21 driver Trevor Bayne at both the Wood Brothers Racing shop in Harrisburg, North Carolina and also trackside at Daytona

“I was twenty years old when my wildest dreams came true in Victory Lane at last year’s Daytona 500,” said Bayne. “By shadowing me and Wood Brothers Racing as we prepare to race again at Daytona, I want the national winners of the 2012 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition to see that their dreams are obtainable as they work on the world’s best cars.”

Founded in 1950, Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team in NASCAR. The Wood Brothers have won 14 Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway, more than any other team in the sport. The Wood Brothers’ most recent trip to victory lane came at the 2011 Daytona 500, when then 20-year-old  Bayne become the youngest driver ever to win NASCAR’s most prestigious race.

Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills enables many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry to help fuel the rising demand for well-trained technicians that can repair both computer and mechanical components in today’s advanced vehicles.  Both the national and the state-wide competitions are organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a free public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that offers nearly $12 million in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians.  More than 12,500 students from across the U.S. compete for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit http://autoskills.aaa.com/.

Dearborn, MI – 6/7/2011

High school automotive technology students converge on Michigan for 62nd annual National Finals  

One hundred high school automotive technology students from across the country will tune up cars in hopes of tuning out the competition at the National Finals of the 62nd annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, which take place June 12-14 at Ford World Headquarters in Michigan. The students will be vying for a share of nearly $12 million in scholarships and a job shadow experience with one of Roush Fenway Racing’s NASCAR teams.

Additional Resources

The competition, which is geared toward students looking to jumpstart their careers in the automotive industry, is especially relevant for today’s struggling economy, as car owners are putting more money into repair and maintenance as a way of avoiding the big-ticket purchase of a new car. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that this trend, as well as advancements in automotive technology, means an increase in the demand for repair work and a rise in job opportunities for those automotive technicians who complete postsecondary education—something the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition helps its competitors pursue by offering millions of dollars in scholarships.

The annual competition features the top high school automotive technology students from all 50 states, with each state represented by a team of two students joined by their high school instructor. At the National Finals, the students will have their automotive skills and knowledge put to the test with a written exam and a timed event in which they will race against the clock and each other to identify glitches and repair deliberately installed “bugs” in identical 2011 Ford F-150 XLT 4×4 trucks. The team with the best combined written and hands-on score will win the national championship.

In addition to the scholarships, the winning students will get the opportunity to spend a week job shadowing Roush Fenway Racing’s NASCAR Nationwide Series No. 6 Ford team leading up to and during the Subway Jalapeno 250 on July 1 at Daytona International Speedway. Students also will have the opportunity to interact at-track with the car’s driver and 2010 Nationwide Series Rookie of the year, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who is serving as the national spokesperson for the Ford/AAA Auto Skills program this year.

A pool of more than 10,000 automotive technology students started the journey to the National Finals by taking an online exam in March. The 100 national finalists, who have spent countless hours preparing for the competition, reached the championship through a high score in the online exam and success at the hands-on competitions at their respective State Finals. Though each team has proven it has the drive and automotive knowledge needed for success, the students come from a variety of backgrounds and have taken several different paths in pursuit of their dreams. Some of the personal storylines include:

A strong support system helps Mississippi student beat the odds to compete

For team member Eric Vong of Clinton High School Career Complex in Clinton, Miss., just reaching the Mississippi State Finals was truly a win in itself. Vong, who suffer from a rare blood disorder, was unsure if he would be able to compete at all, but through the support of his instructor and his teammate, he made it to the state championship. Teammate Chase Mitchell also had his own strong support system in stepfather Razi, an immigrant and automotive shop owner, who plans to pass down the shop to his son.

A little ingenuity, and even less sleep, propelled Tucson school to the National Finals

Winning the Arizona State Finals was truly a milestone for Flowing Wells High School, which has never captured the title before. Unable to secure a Ford Mustang on which to practice, the team jumped at the chance to learn the ins and outs once they arrived at the State Finals. Staying up until 1:00 a.m., the boys used the few tools available to take apart the display car and gain additional hands-on knowledge of its inner workings. Fortunately, this commitment paid off and they were able to drive home the victory.

Florida students are looking for a championship title at the National Finals

2011 is the first year Merritt Island High School has nabbed the title of Florida State Champions. Team member Sam McLean, who had open heart surgery as a baby and today wears a pacemaker, described the state finals as his “Super Bowl.” Sam, along with teammate Johnny White III, is looking forward to the National Finals in Michigan, which will mark the first time either student has flown in a plane—something of an irony, considering both boys have parents that work in the space industry at Cape Canaveral. It will be an exciting set of firsts for the entire team.

The Georgia team has heritage on its side

The team from Thomson High School in Thomson, Ga., has a rich history with the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition and the automotive industry. Instructor Jason Brooks was a student competitor in the 1998 competition; his team came in fifth place at the National Finals. Additionally, his students, Chevy Phillips and Dakota Aldred, grew up in the industry, as both their fathers are automotive technicians. This experience and background knowledge will likely serve them well at this year’s National Finals.

In Missouri, competing in the National Finals is a father-son legacy

It’s all in the family for Dwight Nieboff and Brenten McManis from Lamar Area Vocational Technical School in Lamar, Mo. Both students’ fathers were Auto Skills Missouri State champions when they were in high school—and McManis’ father even placed in the top ten at the national championship. Nieboff and McManis had some great role models, but they also have some big shoes to fill.

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition for high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians. In its 62nd year, the competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities with a written test as well as a race against the clock to diagnose and properly repair intentionally “bugged” vehicles. Ford and AAA are dedicated to the competition as part of their commitment to the future of automotive service in America. For information on competing in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills, visit AutoSkills.com.

DEARBORN, MICHIGAN,  – June 15, 2010

61st annual auto repair showdown pitted top high school teams from all 50 states, awarded $11.5 million in scholarships

Christie HydeIn a face-off between the nation’s top high school automotive technology students, the two-person team from Valley City, N.D., emerged as the “best of the best” at the 61st annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals held today on the front lawn at Ford World Headquarters. The competition gives auto tech students the opportunity to showcase their automotive problem-solving capabilities by resolving “real world” repair challenges in a timed, head-to-head match-up of top teams representing all 50 states.

Jonathan Anderson, 18, and McKenzie Nordland, 17, from Sheyenne Valley Area Career & Technology Center bested the elite field of teams representing each state, as they recorded the day’s top score under the tutelage of instructor James McFagden.

Following a shotgun start, all teams raced to repair their assigned vehicle. Each two-student team used their collective top-level knowledge and workmanship to diagnose and properly repair “bugs”—purposefully placed mechanical and electrical problems within the vehicle. Teams that effectively repaired all of the planted “bugs” could shut the hood, start the engine and steer their vehicle through the finish line—where a judging team awaited to scrutinize their work.

Teams were tasked with diagnosing and repairing twelve “bugs” (which ranged from blown horn fuse, wiper switch malfunction and burnt out brake bulbs). North Dakota was the lone school to earn a “perfect car” score by flawlessly repairing all dozen “bugs” without any demerits for poor workmanship. To earn the National Title, the time it took to repair the vehicle was combined with the results of a 100-question written exam the students took the previous day. North Dakota hoisted the championship trophy after shutting the hood of their “perfect car” at 61 minutes and 30 seconds.

This year’s competition awarded a record-high $11.5 million in scholarships to the participants, which was comprised of more than 10,500 juniors and seniors. In March, following an online exam, the highest-scorers advanced to their states’ hands-on competition, with the top teams from each state competing in the National Finals.

In addition to the scholarships, in July, the winning students will job shadow the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Con-way Freight race team leading up to the NASCAR race at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. While there, the students will get at-track tutoring by Larry McReynolds, one of the sport’s most recognized crew chiefs and this year’s national spokesperson for the Ford/AAA Auto Skills competition.

Texas finished as the runner-up, followed by schools from Connecticut, South Carolina and Oregon that rounded out the top 5. (See below for a complete listing of the top-10 finishing order).

“Technology advances in today’s automobiles demands that our country is stocked with the next generation of auto professionals that are as technically savvy as they are mechanically inclined. We saw 100 of the very best and brightest automotive technicians on display today,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair and Buying Services. “From coast to coast, each state has some immensely talented students that showed their skill and expertise in a time-crunched, competitive environment that brought out their very best.”

At the National Finals, the top-10 teams received additional full and partial scholarships from some of the leading automotive technology institutions in the country, including Lincoln College of Technology, Universal Technical Institute, University of Northwestern Ohio, Ohio Technical College and WyoTech.

“As Ford vehicles of today continue to increase in technology and advanced features, auto technicians must be well-educated and highly-skilled to meet these increasing advancements,” said Frederiek Toney, Vice President of Ford’s Customer Service Division. “Ford is committed to training and retaining the best technicians in the industry and we are very proud of our continued involvement in this valuable competition, which is investing in our highly-skilled technicians of tomorrow.”

The Ford/AAA Auto Skills competition began in 1949 when Harry Truman was in office. This year, AAA marks its 26th year with the competition, serving as a co-sponsor since 1984. Ford Motor Company celebrates its 16th year involved in the competition.

The top-10 teams in the 2010 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals were:

1 North Dakota (Jonathan Anderson and McKenzie Nordland) Sheyenne Valley Area & Technology Center, Valley City, N.D., Instructor James McFagden

2 Texas (Ian Dunaway and Jesse Hackfield) Birdville Center of Technology & Advanced Learning, North Richland Hills, Texas, Instructor Olin Harrington

3 Connecticut (Jordan Boots and Conner McCreery) Platt Technical High School, Milford, Conn., Instructor Kirk Stankiewicz

4 South Carolina (Adam Hale and Taylor Wise) B.J. Skelton Career Center, Easley, S.C., Instructor Phillip Smith

5 Oregon (Steven Tolman and Nathan Maupin) Vale High School, Vale, Ore., Instructor Merle Sanders

6 Kansas (Ernest Sharp and Ian Clark) Newton High School, Newton, Kan., Instructor Cory Unruh

7 Rhode Island (Richard Wilkins and Patrick Hickey) Warwick Area Career and Technical Center, Warwick, R.I., Instructor David Tibbetts

8 Washington (Richard Harvey and Benjamin Quesnell) Tri-Tech Skills Center, Kennewick, Wash., Instructor Larry Brookes

9 Hawaii (Bryson Higa and Lewis Drapete) Maui High School, Kahului, Hawaii, Instructor Shannon Rowe

10 Michigan (Andrew Michaluk and Ryan Hastings) Saline High School, Saline, Mich., Instructor Tim Timoszyk

Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition for high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians. This year marks the 61st anniversary of the competition that tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities with a written test as well as a race against the clock to diagnose and properly repair intentionally “bugged” vehicles. Ford and AAA are dedicated to the competition as part of their commitment to the future of automotive service in America. For information on competing in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills, visit AutoSkills.com.

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DEARBORN, MICHIGAN, June 9, 2010

Elite high school automotive students converge on Michigan for 61st annual National Finals

Christie HydeWith the economy still facing challenging times, one sector that continues to show signs of increased productivity is automotive maintenance and technology. And, as vehicles of today continue to increase in complexity with advanced technologies, auto technicians must be well-educated and highly-skilled to meet these increasing advancements in the auto industry.

Enthusiastically waiting in the wings to meet that increased demand head-on are the nation’s future young automobile technicians, who will showcase their acumen and talent at the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals in Dearborn, Mich., June 13-15. A timed, head-to-head skills showdown, the competition gives top automotive students from all 50 states the opportunity to demonstrate their automotive knowledge and problem-solving capabilities by resolving “real world” repair challenges.

The 61st annual competition features top high school automotive technology students from across the country with each state represented by a team of two students and their high school instructor. Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills enables many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry with a record-high $11.5 million in scholarships offered this year and promising employment opportunities following completion of their education or technical training.

In addition to the scholarships, in July the winning students will job shadow the Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Con-way Freight team leading up to and during the Kroger 200, benefiting Riley Hospital for Children NASCAR race at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. Students also will have the opportunity to interact at-track with one of racing’s most successful and recognized crew chiefs, Larry McReynolds, who is serving as the national spokesperson for the Ford/AAA Auto Skills program this year.

Beyond the prizes and scholarships, this “best of the best” competition represents the final face-off and will bring together the best 100 automotive technology students in the country that have spent countless hours of class time and extra preparation in pursuit of the national championship. Narrowed down from the 10,500 students that started the competition back in March, the national finalists represent a variety of backgrounds and have taken several different paths in pursuit of their dreams. Some of the personal storylines include:

  • Beating the odds: Daniel Sarzynski overcame brain cancer at the age of 7, and now the 17-year old Baltimore resident has come full circle fresh off winning the Maryland state championship with teammate Ernest Kuehne, 17, representing Eastern Technical High School.
  • Home state karma: The host state of Michigan has not claimed the national champion in 40 years, and veteran instructor Tim Timoszyk will be making his fifth National Finals appearance. State champions Ryan Hastings and Andrew Michaluk hope to lean on recent success—Hastings’ brother, Zachary, finished second in 2007—and a home-field advantage (the duo represents Saline High School, a suburb of Ann Arbor)—to tip the scales in their favor.
  • High(est) honors, madam: Sydne Mikesell, 17, had tough shoes to fill in her family following in the footsteps of brother, Taylor, who advanced to the 2009 National Finals. Very much the automotive neophyte when she first entered the program, Mikesell quickly fell in love with working on cars and turned that passion and energy into registering the nation’s top score en route to capturing the Idaho state crown alongside teammate Edwardo Luna, 17, representing Blackfoot High School in Idaho Falls.
  • Paying it forward: Instructor Josh Arl takes his role to heart, not only for the hands-on knowledge he has passed on to his students, but also the life lessons learned. Nearly a decade earlier, Arl captured the state title (2001), while dealing with plenty of adversity along the way, including becoming a father at the end of his junior year of high school. But, with the state title in his pocket, it helped open some doors, eventually owning and selling his own business. With his wife expecting their latest child close to the Nationals, Brian Moore, a substitute instructor, will step in and lead Missouri state champions Troy Chastain and Michael Stake, both 19, representing Lebanon Technology & Career Center.
  • Proven track record: Veteran instructor Merle Saunders has enjoyed a long history of success at the state and national level during three decades of guiding his students. In 23 trips to the National Finals, Saunders’ teams have captured four National Championships (1992, 1997, 1998 and 2005) while finishing as the runner-up three other times. This year’s duo is Steven Tolman and Nathan Maupin of Vale (Ore.) High School. The 19-year olds will look to utilize their instructor’s experience and confidence, along with their knowledge, to perform their best.
  • Ford meets military: Kelsey Barnes, 19, had zero automotive experience before she started in the program two years ago, but it didn’t stop her from quickly achieving much success culminating with an Alabama state crown with teammate Todd Hood. She will utilize her scholarship to continue her automotive education in-state at Lawson Community College with career aspirations of working for Ford Motor Company. Hood’s career path—the U.S. Army—was temporarily delayed when his recruiter found out that the 18-year old’s reporting date to Ft. Benning, Ga., coincided with the National Finals. It was then moved to August to allow Hood to vie for the national title before joining the Army. The team represents Haleyville Center of Technology outside of Birmingham.

This year marks the 26th year that AAA has been involved with the competition, serving as a co-sponsor since 1984, while Ford Motor Company celebrates its 16th year.Nearly 10,500 high school juniors and seniors competed in this year’s competition. Following an online exam, the highest-scorers advanced to their states’ hands-on competition, with the top teams from each state advancing to the National Finals.

At the National Finals, teams representing each state will have their automotive knowledge tested with a 100-question written exam followed by a hands-on competition on the front lawn of Ford World Headquarters. The scores from both will be combined to crown the 2010 national champion.

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition for high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians. It its 61st year, the competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities with a written test as well as a race against the clock to diagnose and properly repair intentionally “bugged” vehicles. Ford and AAA are dedicated to the competition as part of their commitment to the future of automotive service in America. For information on competing in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills, visit AutoSkills.com.

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ORLANDO, FLORIDA,  June 8, 2010

Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills national winners to job-shadow No. 16 Con-way Freight team; receive expert advice from one of racing’s most successful crew chiefs – Larry McReynolds

Christie HydeAAA and Roush Fenway Racing today announced that the nation’s best young automotive technicians from the 2010 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition will receive a dream learning experience—a week behind the scenes with the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Con-way Freight team.

In July, the winning students will job shadow the race team leading up to and during the Kroger 200, benefiting Riley Hospital for Children NASCAR race at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. In addition, the students will have the opportunity to interact at-track with one of racing’s most successful and recognized crew chiefs, Larry McReynolds, who will serve as the national spokesperson for the Ford/AAA Auto Skills program this year.

“The thousands of dedicated young people who put their hearts and souls into winning the nation’s premier competition for aspiring automotive technicians truly are the future of the automotive industry,” said Roush Fenway Racing Team Owner Jack Roush. “These students have shown they have character, drive and determination to be a winner in life and on the race track. That’s why Roush Fenway Racing is proud to join with Ford and AAA for a third year to encourage more students to consider career choices in motorsports, auto repairs or other fields of automotive technology.”

The once-in-a-lifetime learning experience with Roush Fenway Racing is one of the grand prizes for the two-person team that wins the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals. The No. 16 Con-way Freight team will open up their race shop and garage to the students to give them an in-depth look at auto technicians in the fast-paced world of NASCAR. The winners also will have an opportunity to interact and glean valuable insights from McReynolds at-track.

“I am excited to serve as the national spokesperson for the Ford/AAA Auto Skills program,” said McReynolds, who is currently seen weekly on various national television networks as a NASCAR on-air analyst. “As a former crew chief, I know the amount of hard work, dedication and attention to detail that goes into being competitive and successful in the racing industry. I look forward to meeting the national champions and offering any advice I can to assist them in their future development and career aspirations.”

This learning experience will begin July 20 at the Roush Fenway Racing facility in Mooresville, N.C. For two days, the students will get to shadow the No. 16 crew at the race shop as they prepare for the upcoming race at O’Reilly Raceway Park on July 24.

The students and their instructor will then travel with the team to Indianapolis, where they will serve as honorary pit crew members during the NASCAR race weekend, as well as participate in a meet-and-greet with McReynolds, who led drivers to 23 NASCAR Cup victories as a crew chief, including a pair of Daytona 500 checkered flags (and Dale Earnhardt’s only win in the famed race in 1998).

AAA and Ford—along with other affiliated companies—sponsor the nation’s largest competition for high school automotive technology students, giving thousands of teens the keys to start their careers in the automotive service industry.

The competition began in February when nearly 10,500 high school juniors and seniors took an online exam testing their automotive technology knowledge. The top scorers in each state advanced to a hands-on competition in their state’s finals. Working as a two-person team representing their high school, they raced to correctly identify and fix intentionally installed ‘bugs’ on Mercury Milan vehicles. Each championship team from all 50 states advances to the National Finals at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., June 13-15.

Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills enables many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry with more than $11.5 million in scholarships offered this year at both the state and national level. Demand for well-trained technicians continues to be high due to more motorists fixing their older vehicles instead of buying new ones. According to Land Marketing Resources Inc., the average age of cars in the United States is 10.6 years, which is slightly higher from 10.2 in 2007.

Additionally, some 78 percent of the independent automotive technicians responding to a survey by the Automotive Service Association reported they expect sales increases in 2010 compared to a challenging year in 2009.

Both the national and the state-wide competitions are organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a free public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills (www.AutoSkills.com)

Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition for high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians. This year marks the 61st anniversary of the competition that tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities with a written test as well as a race against the clock to diagnose and properly repair intentionally “bugged” vehicles. Ford and AAA are dedicated to the competition as part of their commitment to the future of automotive service in America.

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