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Morrisville State hosts statewide automotive skills competition

Ten teams race against the clock to diagnose and repair intentionally “bugged” vehicles
MORRISVILLE, NY¬—Patrick McNamara and Ryan Seeman worked diligently under the hood of a Ford Fiesta, eager to determine why it wouldn’t start.

The two Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OCM) BOCES seniors were teamed up against nine other vocational school teams from across New York State during the FORD/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition, which was held at Morrisville State on May 13.

The annual event attracts the best and brightest eleventh- and twelfth-grade student automotive technicians from across the state who race against the clock to correctly identify and fix vehicles that have been “bugged” on purpose. Teams earned a spot in the competition by scoring highest on a qualifying exam.

Nearly 15 minutes into the competition, McNamara, of Utica, was approaching judge Graham Jones with a blue fuse in his hand. Jones reached into the small box he was holding and handed him a 15 amp replacement fuse.

“He just traded a “bad” part for a “good” part,” said Jones, assistant professor of automotive technology, who has been judging the event since he started working at the college 10 years ago. Each team had its own judge with a box of “fixes” for the bugs, which ranged from a bad sensor and bulb to loose connections.

In the hands-on competition, students in teams of two diagnosed and repaired identical new Ford Motor Company vehicles which had 10 uniform “bugs” within 90 minutes.

The competition required repairs to be made with the highest quality workmanship in the shortest total time, according to Dan Akers, director of the college’s Ford ASSET program who headed the competition.

Participants are allowed to bring a basic tool set and a diagnostic tool such as a computer to the competition. After properly diagnosing and repairing the vehicle, teammates drove across the finish line where their accuracy and workmanship was judged by Morrisville State automotive faculty and staff.

Participants in the AAA competition who choose to attend Morrisville State receive a scholarship toward their tuition.

McNamara and Seeman, of Sauquoit, are heading to Morrisville in the fall to study in the college’s two-year automotive technology program.

Both set their sights on Morrisville after participating in a SkillsUSA competition, which was held at the college earlier this year.

“I was impressed with the facilities and everything about the auto programs overall,” McNamara said.

The winning two-person team and their instructor advance to the national finals in Detroit in June for the chance to compete for additional scholarship dollars and the opportunity to kick-start their automotive careers.

At the national competition, each member of the 50 state teams will take a written exam. Errors on the written exams are converted into time demerits that are added to the team's time for the “hands-on” mechanical competition in both the state and national competitions.

The names of the contestants are submitted to AAA affiliated service facilities, Ford Motor Company dealers, and many other sponsoring organizations in need of automotive technicians and service specialists.

The competition is cosponsored by AAA and Ford Motor Company.

Morrisville’s auto programs prepare students for automotive careers, aligning them with current industry.

Morrisville’s automotive facilities include an award-winning automotive technology building with nine state-of-the art laboratories, a showroom, and an auto body building with a lab containing superior air purification equipment, a laser device for measuring frame damage, and a Garmat Paint Station.

As the only campus with its own parts department and live service desk both run by students, students gain communication skills performing live work on faculty, staff and student vehicles.

Morrisville State sets the world in motion for students. Curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology. Lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs, the college was named to the 2012 President’s Higher Community Education Service Honor Roll. The college was recognized, by U.S. News and World Report, in its top tier Best Regional Colleges list and ranked second among regional colleges nationwide for outperforming its anticipated graduation rate. Visit to experience, Morrisville in motion.