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Students use competition to tune up for auto jobs

April 30, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Two teenagers from Washington County's Technical High School got a chance to pit their automotive skills against the best student mechanics in the state and took home a fourth place award in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Challenge Saturday.

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Jeremy Dorsey, 17, of Clear Spring, and Scott Wibberley, 17, of Hagerstown, competed against nine two-member teams to find and fix 10 different mechanical problems on a 2000 Ford Taurus during the 1 1/2 hour competition at Catonsville (Md.) Community College.

Scores were based on the quality of work and speed with which the repairs were correctly made.

"I was a little nervous, but I thought we would do well since we work well together," said Dorsey.

The Washington County team's test car idled incorrectly, had a tennis ball placed in the intake and had a faulty starter relay.

The high school's automotive teacher Gerald Spickler of Hagerstown prepared the students for the competition and accompanied them. Dorsey and Wibberley were able to practice on a 2000 Ford Taurus donated by Hagerstown Ford prior to the event.

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"We tested each other so we would know the symptoms before we got there," said Dorsey, who became interested in being a mechanic after working on a car with his father.

Students in the competition were given a manual to look up codes but were not allowed to use their classroom notes.

A written test was also given to test the mechanics' general knowledge.

"One key factor was that we worked as a team to diagnose the problems," said Wibberley.

He said he was proud of how well they did considering the tough competition.

"It was interesting - a good experience," he said.

Dorsey and Wibberley received trophies, certificates and scholarships to continue their automotive training.

After graduating, both teenagers said they would like to work for automotive dealerships and eventually operate their own garages.

The winners of the Maryland competition, a team from Baltimore, will represent the state in the national finals to be held in Washington, D.C., June 19.

They also earn a spot in the Ford Motor Company's Automotive Student Service Educational Training, program including scholarships to associate degree automotive programs and paid apprenticeships at Ford or Lincoln Mercury dealerships.

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