Career Tech hosts first annual automotive contest

Published 7:36 pm Friday, December 14, 2018

As the sound of a car horn echoed through the garage-turned-competition floor, the five competing students took to their stations, each one representing a different aspect of an automobile.

The signal was the start to another round Friday morning at Chambers County Career Technical Center’s first annual Local SkillsUSA Automotive Contest. Bringing five of the brightest high school students from the area out to the center’s auto-shop classroom, the competition tested their proficiency and composition when repairing or upgrading a car.

“Its anything from bumper to bumper, whole car,” said automotive instructor James Winkles. “This competition gave them 15 minutes to do tire changes, disk breaks, engine measuring, drum breaks, scan tool usage, electrical troubleshooting and pre delivery.”

Email newsletter signup

The competition was a local variation of ones that Winkles’ students have participated in on district, state and national levels. Winkles has spent the majority of his teaching career at Troup County High School and started at Career Tech two years ago. He said that since he has shown up, an emphasis has been placed on preparing students for competitions.

“The reason I do this competition is because a lot of the schools send their competitors to the next region or the next level, with that being the only time they have ever competed,” he said. “This gets some of the nerves out, gets them used to how the competition runs.”

Six different stations were set up, each on testing an automotive aspect like electronic data retrieval, tire balancing and replacement, disc brake service, engine measuring, drum brake service, scan tool usage, electrical circuit testing, or new vehicle pre-delivery inspection.

Local automotive professionals and past administrators judged the students on not only the ability to get the job done, but to get it done properly.

“I would rather them go through, do a thorough job and get to a certain point to be judged on than try to go fast and throw it all back together,” said competition head and retired City of LaGrange automotive professional Tommy Brown. “It’s about doing it right.”

Friday’s competition was for more than just training to compete in future events, Brown said it was also to give students hands-on experience out of an academic setting.

“I think you will find the students that compete even at the local level are the ones that excel in the classroom,” he said. “It goes a lot deeper than just the competition.”

County Commissioner Sam Bradford was judging the engine measuring station with his eye for what was right or wrong, stemming from his 10-year stint as the career technical director at Troup High.

He expressed his excitement for what this competition and the automotive program as a whole meant for Chambers County.

“It’s great, because it’s building talent for the community,” Bradford said. “Especially with the automotive emphasis in this area, it’s all about building the workforce. Chambers County is very fortunate to have Mr. Winkles as the automotive instructor.”