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High school students from across the state show off their talents

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Saturday, the sound of impact wrenches taking out lug nuts reverberated throughout the garage of King Acura in Hoover. It was there that 10 teams of two from high schools across the state came together for the second annual Alabama Automotive Technology competition.

In the competition, students had 30 minutes to diagnose and fix the issues on the car they were working on. They were not only graded on time, they were also graded on their accuracy. Organizers said the event models real world work settings and puts the skills needed for success in today's automotive industry on display.

"An event like today, it gets me ready for out in the real world where you've gotta be ASE certified and doing well with people's cars and getting jobs at dealerships and ready to be more professional," Jose Flores from the Career Technical Education Center in Columbiana said.

"It put me into something different," Michael Moler of the Career Technical Education Center said. "It's not always going to be something you're used to. It opens up more opportunities for me to meet more people that are high up in the industry."

Kevin Bierne, a District Parts and Service Manager for American Honda was one of the judges on Saturday. He went through a similar program when he was younger, and said what the students are learning now is critical for the future.

"They could not be more important right now," Bierne said. "There is a very large vacancy in the field with qualified technician positions, with electronic technology in the vehicles today and the direction it is going. There couldn't be more of a need for qualified people to work on these cars. Honestly, the best way to get them is to start them at a young age learning that because it is difficult to come in from a different trade and start to pick up on this.

The winning team was from Blount County Career Technical Center. They won a $2,500 scholarship from the Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association. They will represent Alabama at a national contest in New York this April.

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