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The team from Grafton High School works on a car in the 2018 local Technicians of Tomorrow competition.

Technicians of Tomorrow contest helps students prepare for automotive jobs

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Some high school students stand out on the athletic field, others in music or art. This year, five teams of high school students who excel at working on cars will compete in the Technicians of Tomorrow contest at the Greater Milwaukee International Car & Truck Show.

The competition will start at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 1, before the doors open at the show. The hands-on competition will showcase the top five automotive teams (with two students on each team) from area high schools. The winning team will head to the national final at the New York Auto Show this spring to compete with teams from across the nation for millions of dollars in scholarships, tools and other prizes.

This is the first year that the Technicians of Tomorrow finals will be held at the Greater Milwaukee International Car & Truck Show, which is set for Feb. 23 through March 3 at the Wisconsin Center. The Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee sponsors the show each year and made the decision to move the competition in part to raise awareness of the multitude of tech jobs available at auto dealerships.

As another way of sparking interest in auto tech careers, high school students, their teachers and chaperones will be able to participate in Field Trip Day, which also will be held the morning of March 1 before the show opens. As part of the Field Trip Day activities, participants can hear speakers talk about job possibilities in the automotive field, participate in a career fair and check out hundreds of the latest model cars at the show before the doors open to the public.

Scott Fisler, an automotive instructor at the Milwaukee Area Technical College Oak Creek Campus and one of the founders of the local Technicians of Tomorrow competition, worked at local dealerships for decades before joining the MATC faculty and brings both industry and academic experience to the competition, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. He talked about the need for more auto techs.

"One hundred percent of the people that are in my class will get a job," he says. "There is that much of a demand for auto technicians."

The students who compete in Technicians of Tomorrow are evaluated on their knowledge of tools and measurements, interview skills and ability to diagnose and repair problems on a vehicle within a specific time limit. This year's vehicle is a Subaru Forester Limited, and all teams will have the same "bugs" to diagnose and fix.

As part of the preparation for the competition, students spend time working with certified technicians at local dealerships. Local dealer sponsors this year are Schlossmann's Subaru City in Milwaukee, Sommer's Subaru in Mequon and Wilde Subaru in Waukesha.

Fisler sees multiple pathways to good jobs in the field, even for those who didn't grow up tinkering with cars. They include an eight-week "Express Service" course to a one-year diploma program to a two-year associate degree.

Here are the five teams who qualified to participate March 1 in the Technicians of Tomorrow competition:

Arrowhead High School: Logan Dougherty and Aaron Mesching; instructor Eric Varrelmann

Grafton High School: Matthew Kline and Cody Williams; instructor Carl Hader

Mukwonago High School: Hunter Raatz and Isaiah Weber; instructor Patrick Grady

Muskego High School: Jeremy Radovich and Kobe Ramazini; instructor Steve Brick

West Bend High School: Branden Herbert and Cole Moreno; instructor Gerald Sorce


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