Guys win at Ivy Tech
On April 22, two of Northview High School's vocational automotive students took top honors among the 10 Wabash Valley schools competing at Ivy Tech's annual High School Automotive Skills contest.
"The competition is tough, but I was really confident about going, and figured we'd leave winning something," senior Justin Wilson, 18, said.
Wilson placed second in his competition, winning a $1,000 scholarship to Ivy Tech and some hand tools.
"I knew I just had to relax and do my best," he said.
Junior Jeff Backfish, 17, placed first in his competition, winning some hand tools and a Sears gift card.
"The competition showed me that I know more than I thought I did before I went," he said. "It made me realize that I have a good shot to win (senior division) next year."
"Sometimes it seems as if they don't give themselves credit for what they've learned in class, but this competition shows them they really do know what they're learning," Instructor Tony Migliorini said. "I can't be prouder of these two guys. They really came alive in class this year."
Split into two divisions, one for seniors and another for juniors, each school is allowed one entry in each division.
"The competition is a great way to assess my program and gauge how we're doing with everybody else around the area," said Migliorini.
It is also a great way for Ivy Tech College to showcase it's automotive programs, according to program director and contest coordinator Don Lumsdon.
"There are demonstrations and activities for the students not participating in the events," he said. "It's a fun day for automotive students from various schools to visit the school and check out our programs during the competition, and we feed them really good while they're here."
The competition begins with a written test about system failure diagnosis and vehicle specs, then students move on to six hands-on work stations. The students' are tested in 10-minute intervals at each station on their ability to recognize various parts, perform measurements and whether they are able to assemble various parts, such as brake systems.
The test is based on Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified skills, which Migliorini stresses students learn in his classes.
"With the automotive job market exploding, these students are learning a marketable skill while still in high school. Their time in this class counts as college credit at Ivy Tech. All they have to do is keep a B average and they go in with 12 credit hours; that's almost a complete semester," he said. "These are life skills they'll use in the future."
With both planning to attend Ivy Tech in the automotive field, Wilson and Backfish agree.
"We're learning basic automotive skills and how the technology in cars advances every day," Wilson said. "We'll be able to take care of our own vehicles and save money."
"I know if something goes wrong with my car, I'll be able to fix it," Backfish said.
They may be learning about new technology, but both young men agree older models are the best vehicles for a teenager.
"Old style models just look better," Backfish said.
"You can also do the work yourself on the older models," Wilson said.
Both dream of restoring a classic car: Wilson wants to restore a 1969 Camaro while Backfish has his eye on a Mustang, preferably a model between 1968-70.
"I'm going to get one, put it in the garage and work on it when I'm older," Backfish said.
Migliorini was concerned last year about the future of the vocational automotive program being cut due to low enrollment numbers and state funding cuts, but now the future is looking brighter.
"We've had a great group of students this year and our numbers for next year's enrollment are up," he said.
Migliorini attributes students' excitement about the program to recent program fairs within the school.
"I'm really looking forward to next year," he said. "The new technology makes it difficult for people to work on their vehicles. You really need a strong understanding and skills to work on newer model cars."
With gasoline prices skyrocketing, teaching hybrid technology is a dream for Migliorini, and his students.
"We're looking for someone to donate a hybrid vehicle to the shop for the students to work on," he said. "If these guys knew hybrid technology, they could write their ticket to any dealership."