LaGRANGE – Troup High School automotive students are putting in long hours after school to prepare for the SkillsUSA competition in November.
The students train for skill stations that will test their knowledge in automotive repair, according to their teacher, Steven Webb. Stations for a vehicle’s electric systems, brakes, balancing tires, alignment, machining rotors and more will be at the competition.
“This is exactly what’s in the field,” said Webb. “This is real life.”
Students train in a million-dollar shop that contains everything they need to repair the 15 vehicles they use to practice on. Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia donated two of the vehicles; several trucks are owned by the county and are used in day-to-day operations.
THS student Lee Schoonover competed in the marine-engine version of the competition last year.
“It was pretty fun,” he said.
The students are judged on criteria from safety to tool selection to maintaining composure if they get frustrated. They will have 15 minutes per station to complete a given task.
The competition, slated for Nov. 20, is the first in a series that will lead students to an international competition.
In 2014, now alumni Jared Winkles made it to the international level of competition, placing third and winning the automotive program a new Cadillac to work on. The car had less than 1,800 miles on the odometer.
Local branches of companies including NAPA, CarQuest, Bumper to Bumper, Diverse Power and Advanced Auto are sponsoring the students in the SkillsUSA competition.
The automotive program gives students an advantage over others entering the field of mechanic, Webb said.
Webb is a certified master auto technician with 13 years experience with General Motors.
When the students finish the automotive class they will receive industry-standard certifications in automotive tech specialties, Webb said.
Its like Advanced Placement for automotive classes, Webb said about the certifications.
Colleges like the University of Northwest Ohio and University Technical Institute have been to the automotive program to talk with students.
The automotive program is part of the Georgia Career, Technical and Agricultural Education programs.
James Morton is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2154. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorton_LDN.