Meet some future leaders of the automotive industry

The 2017 Skills USA National Leadership and Skills Conference

A few weeks ago (June 19-23), I had the opportunity to attend the Skills USA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The scope of the competition is all vocational disciplines, but I was a part of the Automotive Service Technology group. This group included students aspiring to become automotive service technicians from both the high school and post high school level.

Students taking the Engine Performance Diagnostic Test

Over 20,000 students, teachers and industry leaders attended the entire Skills USA competition. In the Automotive Service Technology group, we had 50 high school and 50 post high school students competing, which were the top students from each state.

The Automotive Service Technology area had 15 stations for our students to complete. I was the lead judge for the Mitchell 1/Snap-on station featuring information lookups in ProDemand (ShopKey Pro). Each student had 20 minutes to complete a 15-question multiple choice test at my station. Other stations included HVAC system diagnosis and testing, engine performance diagnosis and testing, health and safety, brake service and diagnosis, job interview, etc.

Students taking the Service Information Test

This year’s winners for Automotive Service Technology are:

  • Kevin Vasquez, Norwich Technical, Norwich, CT – First place high school
  • Joshua Wilhelm, Washburn Tech, Topeka, KS – Second place high school
  • Paul Blair, Butler County Vo-Tech, Butler, PA – Third place high school
  • Jacob Greene, Parkland College, Champaign, IL – First place college
  • Paul Danenberg, College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, ID – Second place college
  • Philip Albrecht, Arapahoe Community College, Littleton, CO – Third place college

Snap-on, Mitchell 1’s parent company, is also heavily involved with the Skills USA event. Snap-on has been a supporter of Skills USA for over 35 years. Many of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes throughout the Skills USA competition are sponsored by Snap-on and include sets of tools for the prize winners. Also, there were many cool, iconic Snap-on tool boxes scattered throughout the Automotive Service Technology competition area.

Overall, I had a great time being a lead judge and participating in the competition. For me, the best part of my experience is meeting the students and getting to know them. They all were kind, courteous, and very conscientious. I couldn’t have been more impressed by the attitude and skill of the competitors.

Click on the thumbnails below to see more from 2017 Skills USA.

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About the Author

Gary Hixson

Gary Hixson is a Sr. Market Manager at Mitchell 1, and is responsible for product and market management of the Repair Information product line. Most recently he managed the release of ProDemand™, the industry-leading repair, diagnostic and maintenance information system.