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Lompoc Students Place Third in State at Auto Skills Competition

Teammates Josh Tainowitz and Alberto Vasquez showed their knack for finding and repairing 'bugs' planted in vehicles.

Lompoc High School students Josh Tainowitz and Alberto Vasquez, members of the Santa Barbara County Education Office ROP Advanced Auto class, placed third in the state at the Ford/AAA Students Auto Skills Competition in Irwindale on May 8-9.

The timed event required each school’s two-person team to find and repair “bugs” planted in vehicles. The 22 teams were allowed 90 minutes to diagnose and correct any problems. Teams won according to the speed in which they correctly made all of the repairs.

To qualify for the competition, students from across California took an online test, and each school’s two highest student scores were combined. The top 10 Southern California schools sent teams to Irwindale to compete at the Irwindale Raceway, while a simultaneous competition was being held with the top 10 schools in northern California.

The Lompoc students prepared for the competition with ROP Advanced Auto instructor Mike Johnson at Vreeland Ford in Buellton. Johnson has been an active supporter in preparing students for the event for many years. The dealership donates a vehicle, which is then bugged for the students to develop their skills for the timed event.

The first day of the two-day event included a tour of the Wally Parks NHRA Museum, and a coat-and-tie dinner with guest speakers Robert Height and Ashley Force, both funny car drivers.

The Advanced Auto course at Lompoc High School is part of the Regional Occupational Program. It is one of a group of courses offered through the Santa Barbara County Educational Office to provide high school students and adults with occupational skills to be competitive in the employment market and prepared advanced career training.

For more information about ROP, call 805.937.8427.

Tracey Beauchamp is a communications coordinator for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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