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Teens represent Ga. in national auto skills competition | News

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Teens represent Ga. in national auto skills competition
News, Schools
Teens represent Ga. in national auto skills competition

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- A pair of recent high school graduates may get parents re-thinking their children's future plans.

Jorge Gonzalez and David Chavez have each won $34,000 scholarships because they know how to repair cars. They're also learning skills for jobs currently in demand.

The pair are representing Georgia in the Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition taking place in Detroit, Michigan this week.

They took automotive classes at Maxwell High School in Gwinnett County and beat nine other Georgia teams to win the state title and scholarships, plus coveted tools for working on vehicles.

The pair are coached by teacher Max Chavez (not related to David), who says the Detroit competition involves each team trying to diagnose and repair vehicle pre-set with problems.

"They'll (contest organizers) set faults on the car so it would be simulating the customer showing up at a repair shop," said Max Chavez.

The students have been practicing on cars provided by Akins Ford in Winder.

Max is one of three teachers in Maxwell High's automotive program of 140 students from all over Gwinnett County.

David and Jorge recently graduated from Duluth High School and took a bus to Maxwell each day for the automotive courses.

In addition, the program provides high education options.

"They're getting credit if there's dual enrollment in Gwinnett Tech," said Max. "Students leave here (at Maxwell) with multiple, industry-wide recognized certifications."

Taking the automotive courses helped make school more relevant for them and helped them focus on their plans for future careers.

"I was kinda looking of going into the military," said Jorge. "But, now with the automotive program that I found here, it kind of changed my route."

"I want to have a career in mechanical engineering, but also have a side shop where I can work on cars," said David.

The automotive courses and the Ford/AAA Competition are helping provide experienced technicians for an industry that desperately needs them.

"The workforce is hurting for this industry and this field. It's hard to find technicians. We hear this from our local dealers that sponsor us. It's hard to find qualified technicians that want to do this," said Max.

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