Frequent flyers call states like Kansas “flyover states,” but if you ever have car trouble there you’ll be happy to know that two members of the next generation of top-notch auto-repair techs live there.
The two-student team of Bryce Banks and Jedediah Redger, from Newton High School in Newton, Kansas, beat out teams from the other 49 states to triumph in the 63rd Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition.
Gathering at the Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, the teams vied for nearly $12 million in scholarship prizes by solving digital and mechanical challenges, working with wrenches and computers against the clock.
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 waited.
The Newton team aced the contest by repairing all the bugs and scoring highly on an exam the day before. In addition to scholarships, they won an immersive, week-long job-shadow experience with 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and his Wood Brothers Racing team as they prepare the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion car for the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona Beach, Florida, the famous site of Bayne's spectacular win at age 20.
The Top 10 teams in the 2012 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals were:
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