Maui High Auto Team Places Fourth in Ford/AAA National Competition
By Wendy Osher
Maui High students Joseph Burger and David Casayuran finished fourth in the national Ford AAA Student Auto Skills Competition held today in Dearborn, Michigan.
This marks the third consecutive year that a team from Maui High School has placed in the top five nationally.
It is also the 19th time a team from Maui High has qualified for the nationals since the program’s inception, with Maui teams earning national titles in 1995 and in 2000, according to AAA Hawaiʻi information.
A field of approximately 12,000 students was narrowed to just 100 during state competitions held earlier this year.
Burger and Casayuran earned their spot at the national competition after winning the state title on Oʻahu in April. The Maui High students each won scholarships, and prizes for finishing first at the state event.
The competition, sponsored by Ford Motor Company and AAA, is “designed to find the best automotive technology students across the US.”
Event organizers say the hands-on competition “tests high-school automotive technology students and their ability to diagnose uniformly “bugged” vehicles and quickly make repairs without sacrificing workmanship.”
Maui High’s Burger and Casayuran took 42 minutes and 17 seconds to repair their deliberately bugged 2015 Ford Mustang Fastback. Upon completion, their car contained just one repair work demerit. The Hawaiʻi team also had the second-best written test score in the nation.
The Hawaiʻi team receives thousands of dollars in scholarships to pursue their automotive education, along with assorted prizes and trophies for finishing fourth.
Taking the title at the national event was Oregon, followed by Alaska, North Carolina, Hawaiʻi, Virgina and California.
The Maui students were coached by Maui High Instructor Shannon Rowe. According to local AAA representatives, Rowe himself was a former Hawaiʻi state champion of the Ford/AAA competition, and was also a second-place finisher at the national finals in 1996. This was his fifth trip to the national finals as an instructor.
“My students were very prepared for this highly competitive national final and they did a great job of repairing the vehicle,” said Rowe in a press release statement. “I couldn’t be prouder of them and they deserve all the credit for their efforts. The team and I thank our families, our fellow instructors Neill Nakamura and Dennis Ishii and the awesome people of Hawaiʻi.”
AAA Hawaiʻi General Manager Liane Sumida said in a company announcement, “Our Hawaiʻi students did a great job again today. Joseph and David upheld the Aloha tradition of Maui High finishing very well in the highly competitive national final. This is an outstanding achievement, and we’re very proud of them.”