Brandon Darroch and Dave Hippo are finishing their high school careers at Bucks County Technical High School in Bristol, Pennsylvania. But instead of joining their classmates next Tuesday at graduation ceremonies, the pair will be wielding wrenches in Dearborn, Michigan, in their bid to be crowned the nation’s top high school auto technicians in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.
The two automotive students’ last day of class is Friday morning, June 8. On Sunday morning, Darroch, Hippo and their instructor, Byron Cesari, will head to Philadelphia International Airport and board a plane to Michigan.
The Bucks Tech H.S. students will represent the entire state of Pennsylvania in the national Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition in Dearborn, Michigan, Tuesday, June 12th.
While they are away at the competition, their school will hold graduation ceremonies the same day at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey, with plans to show the two young mens’ photos on the scoreboard when their names are called.
"The way I saw it was, graduation’s cool and all, but…when else will I get the chance to fly out to Michigan and compete for on behalf of my entire state?" said Hippo. Cesari, their instructor, said "These are two confident boys that are going to do very well, and it will show during the competition. It’s the desire for them to want this as a career; this is not just a hobby - they really want to do this well. Automotive is their passion. They’re eager to learn, and it shows.”
Hippo and Darroch won the Pennsylvania statewide-level qualifying competition on April 25, with a perfect score for diagnosing and fixing a deliberately-bugged car.
The pair beat nine other two-person high school teams, winning their spot in the nationals, which will be decided June 12th on the front lawn of Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn. Both students have spent hours practicing together for nationals, making use of a loaned Ford Fiesta from McCafferty Ford in Langhorne.
The famed Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, now in its 63rd year, awards nearly $12 million in scholarships to thousands of high school auto students each year, including the national title winners. One hundred of the nation’s best young automotive technicians will compete, with the championship student team earning a weeklong job shadow experience with auto racing royalty – former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and his Wood Brothers Racing team along with scholarships.
“AAA Mid-Atlantic is proud to see Pennsylvania represented by these two wonderful students from the Philadelphia region,” said Jenny M. Robinson, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “They are dedicated and detail-focused, and we hope they will inspire other students to consider an automotive career.”
The annual competition features top high school automotive technology students from all 50 states, with each state represented by a two-student team and their high school instructor. At the National Finals, the students will have their automotive skills and knowledge put to the test with a written exam and a timed event in which they will race against the clock and each other to identify glitches and repair deliberately-installed “bugs” in identical 2012 Ford Fiestas. The team with the best combined written and hands-on score will win the national championship.
The road to Dearborn began in February when nearly 13,000 high school juniors and seniors took an online exam testing their automotive technology knowledge. The 2012 edition of the Ford/Auto Skills Competition has already set several milestones, including a record number of students, instructors and schools participating, as well as the highest number of female competitors in event history.
Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills enables many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry to help fuel the rising demand for well-trained technicians that can repair both computer and mechanical components in today’s advanced vehicles. Both the national and the state-wide competitions are organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a free public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.
About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills
The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that offers scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians. More than 12,500 students from across the U.S. compete for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit http://autoskills.aaa.com/.
AAA Mid-Atlantic serves 700,000 members in the Philadelphia (5-county) region and nearly four million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, with personal insurance, financial, automotive and travel services through 53 retail branches, regional operations centers and the internet, at www.aaa.com/community.