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Regional high school students were all “revved up” on Thursday afternoon for Weber State University’s annual Automotive Department Contest. The contest is an opportunity offered to the best high-school seniors in the area of automotive technology, and 2013 is the contest’s 27th year.
“It started out as a recruiting event to raise awareness of our program,” said Joe Grundvig, department chair for the automotive technology department, “to kind of get all the local high schools together and say, ‘Hey, this is who we are, this is what we do, this is what we have to offer.’ Any opportunity that we can have to get this many high school students exposed to WSU’s automotive technology program is a good thing, to show them what potential education options they have after high school.”
Students competed from all over the Wasatch Front and even beyond — students from Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada, some even traveling from as far as Vale, Ore., with the top schools receiving various prizes.
Jessica Lott, secretary for the department of automotive technology, said the contest began in November with a written portion consisting of a 50-question exam covering areas of Automotive Service Excellence, a certification group for automotive professionals, along with shop safety, hazardous materials knowledge and prevention of pollution. The high schools placing in the top 24 in the written portion were invited back to compete in a hands-on skills competition. Students in the hands-on skills competition were tested in four automotive areas: brakes, steering and suspension, electrical, and engine performance, as well as other areas related to the automotive service industry, like customer service and, as in the written portion, shop safety and hazardous materials knowledge.
The contest began Thursday at noon, with each high school’s seniors rotating to different testing stations. The contest concluded Thursday night with a dinner and awards ceremony for the top schools. The top six teams received at least $1,000 in scholarships to WSU for each of the two contestants competing. The top-placing schools were, from No. 1-6, Burley High School, Provo High School, Blackfoot High School, Vale High School, Riverton High School and Churchill High School.
Nate Brown and Jasper Moser, the two seniors from Burley High School who won first place, said they’ve been working on cars since their childhoods. Moser said learning about cars and auto technology was practically a necessity when working on a farm. The first-place prize included tool sets and a $1,500 scholarship to WSU for each of them.
“I’m totally blown away,” Moser said. “Big thanks to Weber State for everything. They’ve got a good program.”
Joshua Sill, a senior from Cottonwood High School, was also at the competition. Sill said he doesn’t plan on pursuing a career in automotive technology, but he likes cars and automotive technology just as a hobby. Sill plans on joining the Army when he’s done with high school, and having knowledge of vehicles and engines is always a valuable tool.
“It was fun — a good time, you know?” Sill said. “Everyone was friendly and helpful, and we just had a good experience. I learned some new things.”
Grundvig said the contest is very popular, with between 600 and 700 high school seniors taking the written portion of the competition.
“It’s a really valuable thing,” Grundvig said. “For us, for the students, for the high school instructors, it’s a really good community event.”
Students interested in more information about the automotive technology department can visit the website at www.weber.edu/automotive.