For more than 15 years, OSU Institute of Technology’s School of Automotive Technologies has hosted Oklahoma’s Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition.
The school once again hosted the contest on April 23 along Wayne Miller Drive, a.k.a., Gasoline Alley, on the OSUIT campus.
For the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition, 10 two-person teams of high-school age technical center students from across the state have an hour and a half to diagnose and fix as many bugs as possible in 10 identical Ford vehicles.
“It’s fantastic to have OSUIT host this every year. The school has everything we need,” said Chuck Mai, AAA Oklahoma spokesman. “The support we get from the faculty and staff, to the facilities, to the food. Of all the things I do as a representative of AAA, this is my favorite event.”
The competition awarded $132,000 in scholarships to the 20 students who participated, including $20,000 in scholarships from OSUIT.
Bill Voorhees, chair of the School of Automotive Technologies, said half of the automotive students come from technical or vocational schools like those that compete in the Ford/AAA Students Auto Skills Competition as well as SkillsUSA Automotive Service Technology contest, which is also hosted by OSUIT.
“These are opportunities for us to showcase our facilities. It’s also a chance bring back industry folks who come and help us with the contest. Those individuals sponsor our students,” Voorhees said. “Current students help us as well with the different competitions we host. Some participated when they were students at technical schools.”
At this year’s Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition, Ryan Campbell and Hunter Brotherton from Eastern Oklahoma Technology Center took first place.
“We spent the last few weeks getting to know the car by taking it apart. We welcomed the competition,” Campbell said, and the competition was tough. “We were a little concerned at first because we weren’t the first to cross the finish line.”
Brotherton said he was a little surprised by the outcome.
“I was shocked, we expected second place,” he said. “It was fun, nerve-wracking, but fun.”
The team will compete next in June at the national competition at the Ford Motor Company World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.
Campbell and Brotherton’s instructor Jim LaFevers from Eastern Oklahoma Technology Center has quite a collection of first place trophies. This is the fourth consecutive year LaFever’s team has earned the top prize.
“You want to know my secret? It’s good kids,” he said.
Voorhees said hosting the competitions means providing facilities, technical support and manpower, but it’s also a chance to recruit technical school students who already demonstrate great automotive skills.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it just to promote the future of our industry,” he said.
Oklahoma Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition Results
- Ryan Campbell and Hunter Brotherton
Eastern Oklahoma Technology Center; instructor Jim LaFevers
- Parker Phillips and Zachary Corless
Moore Norman Technology Center; instructor Lee Dow
- Rodney Hurt and Ethan Daneker
Tulsa Technology Center; instructor Steven Cummings
- Colton O’Dell and Adam Hammond
Tulsa Technology Center; instructor Greg Gilliam
- Hayden Powell and Levi St. John
Northeast Technology Center; instructor Bill Joice
- Jake A. Loyd and Austin Blandamer
Mid-America Technology Center; instructor Keith Barnett
- Ross Meliza and Jacoby Newell
High Plains Technology Center; instructor Vic Terbush
- Kyle Chonlahan and Dalton Berend
Francis Tuttle Technology Center; instructor Charles Lawson
- Austin Schaffer and Wayde Morris
Great Plains Technology Center; instructor John Knight
- Miguel Lopez and Elvis Nguyen
Francis Tuttle Technology Center; instructor Eric Ensz