Students Compete in Nevada's Car-Fixing Competition - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Students Compete in Nevada's Car-Fixing Competition

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On the top floor of the Nugget parking garage, a nervous Richard Evans tries to restrain himself. His two star students from Churchill County High School are frantically trying to fix a bugged Ford Fiesta at the fast-paced, hands-on competition today at the Ford-AAA contest. He can't tell them what to do. As he told us, “It gets kind of frustrating. You'd like to give them little hints..."

What's wrong can be something simple, but it’s usually not in this grueling competition. Evans told us, "You pretty much got to know your stuff. You can't fake your way through this contest. Either you know it or you don't."

Cade Baligad, teacher at Douglas High School in Gardnerville, heads the second of 2 local teams. The others are from all over the state. Baligad told us, "In order for the kids to get here, they have to take a written exam, and then they have to score in the top 10 in the state to be here."

What these students were competing for is a trip to the finals in Detroit and about $10 million total in scholarships. They have to diagnose the car’s problem, fix it and drive the car over to the judges. The judging is tough, based on demerits. Teams have been eliminated for something as small as forgetting a seat cover. As Baligad put it, "If you leave a tool anywhere in the car and you take it in to final judging, that's how competitive it is, absolutely.”

Instructor Richard Evans has been teaching car repair for 25 years now. It's a career he'd encourage any student to follow. As he told us, "The pay is some of the highest a non-college person can make." And because cars are more complicated than ever, he says fewer people are able to do it…the pay will stay high.

It took a little over an hour for a winner: Arbor View High School of Las Vegas. Besides the blown fuses, teammate Mason Hobbs told us, "We had a bad transmission switch and a bad brake switch in the car."

He also knows what he wants to do after graduation: he’s ready to do, just what he did here today: "I'd make a good car repairman because of the work I just did. I just showed you guys why I'd be a good car repairman." Yes, he has confidence, but will he be able to keep up with the drastically changing technologies in cars? As he told us, "It's an ever changing world, and I'm an ever-changing technician."

About 13,000 U.S. students competed for the chance at the finals. Nevada’s top high school automotive tech team from Las Vegas will head to the national finals next month.

-written by John Potter

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