Showing their stuff: GCHS students place second in auto competition

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Cody Rice and Dustin Graham, two auto tech seniors at Grant County High School, won second place in Kentucky’s Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition. The challenge was to troubleshoot, diagnose and repair the 2013 Ford Focus faster and better. With the timer set, each team faced their challenge at Heritage Hall (Rupp Arena) in Lexington. Ten Ford vehicles had been uniformly “bugged” with multiple ailments. The teams were given the car’s symptoms and they were off to work.

Rice and Graham were competing for top honors, scholarships, tools and prizes in the 2013 Ford / AAA Student Auto Skills Competition.
The goal is to repair the car with the highest quality workmanship in the lowest total time. The winning team from each state and their instructor also wins an all-expense-paid trip to the national finals in Dearborn, Michigan (in June, 2013).

In preparation for the event, Grant County High School’s team received the use of a brand new 2013 Ford Focus loaned by Tom Brinker of Airport Ford. During the weeks preceding the event, Rice and Graham along with the auto tech instructor, David Shelton spent endless hours pouring over their practice vehicle.

The “bugs” may have been planted in any of several places including the transmission, emissions system, the electrical system or even the vehicle’s hardware. The competition requires each participant to have a solid knowledge of auto mechanics, the ability to research, work as a team, problem solve and hold up under pressure.
Rice and Graham were the first to get their car started and the third team to finish completely by closing the hood on their car. A test drive confirms and with a time of 1 hour and 15 minutes, they turn their car over to the judges who evaluate the quality of the team’s work. If any errors are found, demerits will be assigned that count as time added to their score.

The work produced by the team was correct giving them the time and marks to move from their third place (timed) finish into the second place overall state finish --behind long-time contenders from the Lee County Area Technical Center. With the honors came a selection of tools and scholarship opportunities totaling $45,000 for each of the young men from various post-secondary schools throughout the region. Rice and Graham each anticipate continuing their education upon graduation.

The Ford/AAA Auto Skills State Competition is open only to juniors and seniors enrolled in auto tech classes and each student is permitted to compete only once. Only one team may be entered from each technical school. Accompanying Rice and Graham on the trip was their instructor, Dave Shelton and students, Austin Freeman and Daniel Button, who because of their high scores, qualified as alternates.