, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 24, 2014

ICTC students to show auto skills

Pair to compete today in state contest

Oktaha High School senior Tyler Cartwright already knows what to expect when people seek car repairs.

“When people bring their car into the shop, 90 percent of the people don’t know anything except putting gas into their car,” said Cartwright, an automotive technology student at Indian Capital Technology Center. “A customer can be as vague as saying ‘it runs funny.’”

Cartwright and ICTC classmate Joseph Sutton, a Coweta High School junior, will test their automotive abilities today at the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition at OSU Institute of Technology, Okmulgee. The two will compete against high school Career-Tech teams from across Oklahoma.

The two-member teams have 90 minutes to repair 2014 Ford Fiestas.

“They race each other to fix bugs in new Ford cars,” said AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai. “Ford engineers come in and put bugs in cars.”

Mai said the cars “are all bugged identically.”

Teams are given work orders with such vague directions as “windshield wipers don’t work,” he said. “They’ll have to diagnose the problems.”

Tyler said his team must finish with the fastest time and “finish with a clean car.”

ICTC automotive technology instructor Darren Barnhill said the class has participated in the competition for the past 14 years. Tyler and Joseph have been practicing on a 2014 Fiesta.

“James Jenkins, the service manager at James Hodge Ford, helps us get the vehicle for training purposes,” Barnhill said.

Mai said the competition welcomes spectators.

“It’s a lot of fun to watch,” he said. “We sound the horn and say ‘start your engines, if you can.’ Then they throw open the hood and see who can fix the fuses, relays, burnt-out bulbs, anything like that.”

Each team earned a spot in the Oklahoma finals by scoring highest on online tests.

Oklahoma winners advance to the national Ford/AAA competition, June 8-10 at Ford Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The national grand prize is an expense-paid trip to the Wood Brothers Racing Facility, where students work on race cars. Students also can win scholarships, trophies, trips and automotive equipment. Competition finalists also could find opportunities with Ford’s ASSET (Automotive Student Service Educational Training) program.

“The biggest thing to me is the career it can possibly get me,” Tyler said. “Winners get a pretty good-sized scholarship.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

If you go

WHAT: Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition in Okmulgee.

WHEN: 9:30 to 11 a.m. today.

WHERE: OSU Institute of Technology, 1801 E. Fourth St., Okmulgee.

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