Maui auto students rank fifth in the nation
Maui High School, which regularly fields one of the top teams in the country, placed fifth in the nation at this week's Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition.
Glen Bissell and Joey Hoopai Souza, who just graduated from Maui High, represented Hawaii at the auto technology competition in Dearborn, Mich., on Tuesday. Teams from every state competed in a written exam and under the hood, racing to repair new Ford Mustang convertibles planted with the same mechanical bug.
"Joey and Glen can be very proud," said Richard Velazquez, general manager of AAA Hawaii. "Their hands-on score was less than a minute behind the first-place Texas team, which also has a winning tradition in this competition. Year in and year out, the automotive students from Hawaii are consistently the best in the country."
Hawaii students have placed in the top five in the national competition in the last three years. Maui High finished second last year and in 2003. The Kahului school has represented Hawaii for 10 of the last 11 years and never placed lower than seventh.
AAA sponsors the contest in hopes of attracting more young people into the automotive profession. Auto technicians have one of the best-paid jobs in the market, but many high schools are shutting down their automotive programs because they can't find qualified teachers or they lack funding.