Two North Pole HS students win big at state automotive challenge

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by Whitney LB Miller

ANCHORAGE - Ten of the states top high school auto tech students competed Friday for scholarship money and prizes. The event is another effort to promote vocational education across the state.

The six teams traveled hundreds of miles to work on the vehicles donated by ford and to compete for a spot in the national competition this summer in Michigan.

Ten juniors and seniors faced off on the UAA campus in the Ford/ AAA student auto skills competition. The teams had only 90 minutes to repair intentionally installed bugs in six identical Ford Fiestas.

"We did a darn good job of bugging them," said Don Polish, AAA Field Operations Asst. Manager. "Usually well get most of them out the door today we only got two, we did a good job of making sure we made it tough for them."

The two person teams earned there spot in Friday's competition by receiving one of the states top scores in a preliminary online exam. Of the six teams; only 2 cars made it out of the shop. The winners - Ricky Howard and Colby Darling of North Pole high school.

"It was intense especially with everybody being here from almost 400 miles away to come and see us," said Howard.

The two say they have been preparing for the competition for quite some time and that they owe their success to their instructor.

"Our teacher would bug it up for us and he would show us different things they could do," said Darling. "sometimes he'd do it and say here is the problems go fix it."

The pair have now earned a spot in the national finals in Dearborn, Michigan.

The goal for this competition and many across the state is to promote vocational education. Both Colby and Ricky say they plane to make a career out of the automotive industry. 

A chance to do what the they love one hundred percent of the time.