Automotive Students Advance to State Competition


Image by Brian Larson

The Automotive Department competed at the SkillsUSA District Competition on Feb. 15 and had nine students advance to the state competition. They will travel to Corpus Christi, Texas during the last week of March to compete at the state competition. “The real key to getting the students to be successful is confidence, and by going to these types of contests, the students can gain that in their knowledge and hands on skills,” automotive technology teacher Ryan Arnold said. “It’s one thing to learn about an automotive system and quite another to try to show that you have learned more about it than other students.”

Students in the Automotive Department competed on Feb. 15 in the SkillsUSA District Automotive Technology Competition. The department competed against 47 other teams and had nine students advance to the State Competition, the largest number of students to have advanced in the school’s history. 

I couldn’t be more proud of all the hard work, preparation, and effort that the students put forward in securing their successful placement in the district level competition,” automotive technology teacher Ryan Arnold said. “We ended up with two students advancing last year, so having nine advance this year was above and beyond my expectations.” 

Senior Andrew Gregg competed for the first time this year in the SkillsUSA Competition and placed second in the Diesel Contest, securing him a spot to compete at the state level.  

“Considering the competition, no, [I wasn’t expecting to advance to the state competition],” Gregg said. “I studied really hard because I wanted to get as good as I could. I really want to see how far I can advance because I’m going to try and train harder for the state competition to see how much I can get out of this.” 

As part of his placement, Gregg was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the Universal Technical Institute (UTI). The money will assist him in advancing his automotive career after high school. 

“I’m going to go to UTI to pursue a career as an auto technician and I’m really excited about that,” Gregg said. “UTI’s employment rate is so far 100% whenever they send their students out to auto shops. If I can win [the SkillsUSA State Competition], I can get even more tuition money [to go to UTI].” 

Three other students won UTI grants as well. One of them is junior Kaylee Peters, who placed second in the Marine Service Technology Competition and was awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming into the Marine Service Technology Competition because it was new for me,” Peters said. “My dad actually works on boats, so based on what I’ve seen him do, I tried to figure out how to answer the questions. I’m still testing the waters [on whether or not I want to go to UTI].” 

Apart from taking hand-written examinations, four groups presented their automotive projects and advanced to the state level as part of the Individual Notebook Contest. 

“Me and my friend worked on a project, which is advancing to state,” senior Harley Guevara-Simpson said. “The project we worked on was changing a shift kit and a transmission that we took out of a Chevy. [I’m excited to go to state] because there seems to be a lot of projects at the competition and I’m hoping to see what other people have done.” 

Recently, the Automotive Department also competed in the UTI Top Tech Challenge. Students placed third in the Quiz Bowl and more scholarships were awarded. 

“I was extremely excited when they called our students’ names and won the award,” Arnold said. “I had high hopes for them, but several schools in the area competed and they were up against some pretty high odds. I’m very happy with their performance.” 

The students who advanced to the SkillsUSA State Competition will travel to Corpus Christi, Texas during the last week of March. Arnold looks forward to the contest to see more of his students succeed. 

“The best part about the state level competition is the students getting rewarded for all their hard work,” Arnold said. “The state level competition goes over several days, the individual contests take only a small portion of that time and for the rest of the event, they get to relax with their classmates and unwind. While I’m very proud of how they have done so far, any further advancement by any of the students will be an added bonus. Let’s hope for the best.”