The NH State Auto Contest is an outgrowth of previous annual competitions that have occurred for many years in NH, but it takes on a different approach in 2018, as it will involve, instead of only one automotive manufacturer, many. Prizes, in the form of scholarships, will go to the most successful contestants, who may choose among many manufacturer-approved auto tech study tracks instead of only one.
Also unique this year will be the participation of auto instructors from all four community colleges that host automotive technology programs: Manchester Community College, Nashua Community College, White Mountain Community College and Lakes Region Community College (LRCC). They will collaborate in contest judging and participate in a banquet that includes students and industry partners the evening before competition, on January 12 at LRCC.
“We are offering a wonderful new competition that will attract talented high schoolers from throughout New Hampshire. From that group, we hope to grow our workforce,” said Jessica Dade, NHADA workforce recruiter.
The competition is being developed by Jessica and Jamie Decato, automotive technology instructor at Lakes Region Community College.
The work seemed like a natural progression for Mrs. Dade, whose mother and grandfather were both heavily involved in the auto industry and the NHADA. Jessica and Jamie have known each other for many years, from days when Jamie was a young technician working for Jessica’s grandfather at his automobile dealership in Laconia.
Jessica’s grandfather, John E. Gauthier, chaired the NHADA Board of Directors in 1971-72 and was founding chair of the NHADA Workers’ Compensation Trust, in addition to being a TIME Magazine Quality Dealer for NH in 1981 and again in 1986. Jessica’s mother, JoAnne Gauthier Whitticom, chaired the NHADA Board of Directors in 1996-97, and also was honored as NH Time Quality Dealer in 1998.
The testing of high schoolers occurred this past fall, and has been conducted by Jessica, who travels the state to promote the auto trades. The top two scorers of the 100-question test at each school receive $2,000 scholarships to be applied toward their future auto tech studies at one of the four community colleges offering an auto tech track. Second place finishers will receive a $1,500 scholarship, and third place finishers receive $1,000. The scholarships are provided by the NH Automotive Education Foundation (NHAEF), NHADA’s not-for-profit affiliate .
The top two scorers from each high school will then pair up to represent their school as a team. From the 15 schools tested, the top 10 scoring teams will be sent to the hands-on competition to be held January 13 at LRCC. The top three teams to finish at the hands-on competition will receive additional scholarship money, tiered in the same fashion.
In the hands-on contest, teams will work to “repair” Toyota Camrys, each of which will have a deliberately placed malfunction, identical for all 10 teams competing. The vehicles will be loaned by LRCC, which hosts the Toyota training track, and by generous contribution of Irwin Toyota of Laconia.
The winning team advances to an intense, three-day, national competition during the New York Auto Show in April at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.