The auto industry is looking for more than a few good men and women to fix cars at dealerships around the country. Some of those aspiring auto techs are competing for prizes and scholarships at the New York Auto Show. Roger Clark visited the Javits Center and filed the following report.
At Thomas Edison High School in Queens, a test Kia Sorento has a bunch of problems, and two students from have three hours to figure out what's wrong.
"It can be something as simple as the time being off on the clock to a tire being over, with too much air in it. Maybe there's a rip in the windshield wiper. So it's like little things and then it gets to be much more robust,” said Ed Gazillo, Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association Director of Education.
It's the built-in challenge for 30 teams in the National Automotive Technology Competition. The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association hosts the event at its New York International Auto Show. The group started it in 1993 to address the continuing shortage of auto technicians.
"A way for us to get involved and do sort of a private-public partnership with the schools bringing in the manufacturers and suppliers and everybody, and the competition just evolved and evolved,” said Mark Schienberg, NY International Auto Show president.
So these days while tools still come in handy, laptops are just as important to diagnose car problems and make repairs on vehicles that are more and more advanced with each model year.
"Every year manufacturers come out with new products, there's new technology on there, a feeling of accomplishment that's there, and the jobs are rooted in the community,” said .Schienberg
Many of these students will already be qualified to work at dealerships once they graduate. Others will head onto technical schools for more education before starting their careers.
For the kids from Edison High, getting involved with fixing cars was an easy choice.
"I just love working around cars. It's been like that since I was 5 years old. It's always been with me,” said Vernon Surujbali, a student at Thomas Edison High School.
"We try and spend as much time inside the shop class to learn more. And we spend a great deal of time after hours,” said Navin Indardeo, a Thomas Edison High School student.
"Everything that they trained everything that they did goes with them. And it doesn't just end here. It continues for the rest of their life,” said Miguel Sierra, a teacher at Thomas Edison.
The competition awards students more than $3.5 million, in prizes like tools and scholarships to technical schools around the region.