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May 06. 2013 9:50PM

Nashua North student mechanics revved up to compete

NASHUA - Two Nashua high school students will put their automotive skills to the test as they prepare to compete against students from across the state in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.

Despite their unfamiliarity with each other and their teacher's limited availability following surgery, Nashua High School North senior Edward Reuther and South junior Kevin Sullivan have high expectations as they prepare for the May 11 competition.

"You can see if you have what it takes to make it to nationals, how good you are compared to the rest," Sullivan said.

While not that big into competitions, Reuther said he was similarly eager to show off his skills.

"The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition is one of the ways in which AAA and Ford demonstrate their commitment to the future of today's youth and build awareness of career opportunities in the automotive service industry," said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs at AAA Northern New England.

The pair's automotive teacher, John Finnochiaro, said he has been impressed with how the two have prepared given the fact he has been out recovering from surgery.

"I didn't want to leave them hanging, so I have helped them prepare by coming in on my own time when I can," Finnochiaro said.

During the competition, students will work while on the clock to correctly identify and repair intentionally installed bugs in identical 2013 Ford Focus vehicles. Once the bugs are diagnosed and repaired, teammates must drive their Ford across the finish line. Students will be judged on accuracy and workmanship, and the winners will receive scholarships, prizes and a trip to the national finals at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.

To help prepare them, Finnochiaro said he is going to rent a Ford Focus so they don't have to rely on a user's manual alone.

"Kevin is my mechanical genius, and Ed is my electrical genius. I don't have to repeat myself and they pick things up quick," Finnochiaro said.

Sullivan said that working with cars has been a birthright of his, as his grandfather raced and his father worked as a mechanic. Now he said he finds himself at a crossroads of sorts, as he has to figure out if he wants to pursue a career as a mechanic or plumber when he finishes high school.

Reuther said that while he entered the auto program having only watched car reality shows on television as his experience, he has quickly figured out what he wants to do for a career.

"I plan on owning my own shop, a place where you can bring a beater rust bucket in and come out with a show car - and having at least one patent to my name," Reuther said.


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