Erika Engle

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Maui High students
win big in national
automotive competition

MAUI High students Schuyler Toyama, 18, and Kameron Welsh, 17, placed second in the country in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals in Washington, D.C., yesterday. Oregon's team won first place.

Toyama and Welsh maintained Hawaii's 6-year track record of finishing the competition in the top 10, vying for the national title and $5 million in scholarships and prizes.

The national competition unrolled in two phases, including a 100-question written exam on Sunday on which the Oregon team earned a near-perfect score.

The 50 teams started yesterday's phase on the National Mall, facing 50 new 2005 Ford Tauruses.

Each car had been rigged with identical electrical and mechanical malfunctions.

The official starter summoned, "Gentlemen, start your engines, if you can," and the teams were off to the hands-on part of the competition.

"Schuyler and Kameron turned in a perfectly repaired car," said Richard Velazquez, regional manager of AAA Hawaii. They finished in 19 minutes and 3 seconds, and were 3 minutes behind the winning team.

Toyama and Welsh won $72,000 apiece . Toyama, whose brother was a national finalist in 1993, plans to attend United Technical Institute in Phoenix this fall. Welsh wants to open his own automotive business.

Velazquez congratulated the students and their instructor Dennis Ishii, saying, "Year in and year out, the automotive students from Maui are consistently the best in the country."

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 60,000 more automotive technicians are needed every year, which is one reason AAA became a co-sponsor of the competition in 1984. Ford became a co-sponsor in 1993.

"An entry-level auto technician can earn about $32,000 a year. In some areas, master technicians can earn $70,000 to $100,000 annually," said Elaine Beno, AAA spokeswoman.

Directory diva

Public relations practitioner Eileen Mortenson has released the 2005 Directory of Hawaii Organizations, hot on the heels of her 2005 Crucial News Contacts in Hawaii directory.

The Directory of Hawaii Organizations, which Mortenson purchased several years ago, was started by former Downtown Planet owners Susie Thieman and Diane Logsdon. It now has more than 2,400 organizations and their contacts listed.

The media directory was developed as a tool for Mortenson's public relations business and for a time it was not the only game in town. "I've been here almost 26 years now and in that time, a couple of different people have done them in one form or another, and mine is the one that's still here," she said.

The small directory of military public affairs officers and news organizations is familiar in Hawaii newsrooms, but it is not actively marketed.

Mortenson's Crucial News Contacts became a popular item with students of her classes on how to get free publicity, which she taught at the University of Hawaii Outreach College.

Both directories are available in hard copy or on CD, costing $129.95 for Crucial News Contacts and $104.95 for the organization directory. They can be ordered at www.newscontacts.com or via Mortenson's office at 1164 Bishop St., Suite 124, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. Certain discounts may apply, such as for early or multiple orders.

Mortenson sends out updates during the year for major changes, such as editorial changes at major daily papers or a magazine. "I don't try to keep up with every golf journal on every island, but if one of the sports guys at a TV station changes, I notify my customers."

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: eengle@starbulletin.com

E-mail to Business Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com