Two Vermillion High School students were crowned South Dakotas top high school auto technicians after winning the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills State Finals on April 14. Ben Kozak and Joey Muller led by their instructor Mark Pier, will represent South Dakota in the National Finals against teams from all 50 states. They will compete for additional scholarship dollars and the chance to kick start their automotive careers with a job shadow experience with premier racing team Roush Fenway Racing.
Through an online exam earlier this year, the Vermillion High School students beat out numerous other South Dakota teams to become one of six pairs of students whose high scores qualified them to advance to the State Finals. At the April 14 State Finals, held at the Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, the students represented their school in a race to correctly diagnosis and repair intentionally installed bugs on vehicles. Each pair was judged on speed, accuracy and workmanship.
Ben Kozak and Joey Muller and their instructor will travel to Dearborn, MI, to compete in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals, June 12-14. During the National Finals, pairs of students representing all 50 states will compete in a written test of their automotive knowledge and a hands-on competition, similar to the April 14th State Finals, held on the front lawn of Ford World Headquarters.
Nearly $12 million in scholarships are available at the state and national level from Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills. Many of the students competing in April 14 South Dakota finals received a share of the scholarships available. Other teams competing in the finals included Hub Area Technology School in Aberdeen, East Central Multi District School in Brookings, Mitchell High School, Sioux Falls CTE Academy, and Sturgis High School.
Both the national and the state-wide competitions are organized with the support of Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and AAAs Approved Auto Repair program, a public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.