LOCAL NEWS

High school gearheads compete in Auto Technician Championship

Feb 23, 2024, 4:39 PM | Updated: 5:55 pm

LAYTON — Inside Weber State University’s Davis campus Friday, a few dozen high school seniors competed with their recently learned skills as automotive technicians. Their tasks comprised of mostly routine maintenance and a little problem-solving, all under the watch of industry professional judges.

“It’s just a little nerve-wracking when you’re, like, timed,” said Makynleigh Jensen, a senior from Roosevelt High School.

Jensen working on a car for the automotive technician competition

Jensen working on a car for the automotive technician competition. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

However, Jensen, along with many of the other students there, appeared mostly at ease, working together in small teams.

“I really enjoy doing these kinds of competitions where I get to meet new people and experience what it’s like to be in a shop,” said Marianna Applegate, also a senior from Roosevelt High. “I’ve been interested in cars since I was, like, two. I’ve always had a fascination with them.”

Applegate speaking about her being in the shop and her passion in cars.

Applegate speaking about her being in the shop and her passion for cars. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

That passion for automotive work seems to be the common thread that got many of the students at Weber State’s annual Autotech Competition involved in learning the trade as part of their schools’ concurrent enrollment programs. Many industry professionals were at the event to help judge and show support.

“It’s something that’s going to be in demand. It’s not going to go away,” said David Johnson, the CEO and president of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Johnson is also a graduate of Weber State University’s Automotive program. He said jobs like the one students at the event are training for remain in very high demand.

“There’s all these options that people aren’t necessarily aware of,” Johnson said. “The other issue we have with these technical jobs is a lack of lack of labor. You’re hearing about this across the board.”

Student gearheads working on a car.

Student gearheads working on a car. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Winning competitors will walk away with scholarship money and tools, but Johnson adds that nearly all of them will be able to graduate with jobs if they want them. Applegate is already working in her father’s auto shop in Roosevelt, and she’s thrilled.

“Oh, absolutely,” Applegate said. “It’s the absolute best job I can think of.”

Applegate and Jensen were among the top winners Friday as Roosevelt High School’s team placed first, followed by Vale High School in Ontario, Oregon, and Bingham High School.

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High school gearheads compete in Auto Technician Championship