PACTC students qualify for Ford/AAA state finals

Mr. Tom Canter, auto service technology instructor at Perryville Area Career Center, has announced that two students have qualified for the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition on May 7. Pictured (from left) are Josh Medlin, Mr. Canter, and Robert Blessing. PACTC is one of just 10 schools in Missouri to compete in this state final round.

Two students from Perryville Area Career and Technology Center are among the brightest young automotive minds in the nation, competing for millions of dollars in scholarships in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.

Josh Medlin and Robert Blessing have qualified for the state finals competition, which instructor Tom Canter calls "the Super Bowl of automotive education events."

"Very few schools ever qualify for the Ford/AAA event," Canter said. "We will be competing against many very large, and well-known, schools and instructors. I'm very excited for Josh and Robert, and for our program." Canter is an ASE master automotive technician who worked in the industry for 15 years before joining PACTC in 2013. He is a graduate of Wyoming Technical Institute in Laramie, Wyo. Canter is a 1996 graduate of Perryville High School, and completed the automotive technology I and II courses at PACTC.

"Of the more than 50 career prep schools that participated in the written test, our school was one of the top 10 in Missouri," Canter said. "We're the only school in Southeast Missouri that qualified. I'm very proud of Josh and Robert. They are fantastic students who represent our school well." Canter will accompany the students to the competition.

Josh, the son of Robert and Julie Medlin of Perryville, is a senior at Perryville High School. He will attend Ranken Technical Institute's Ford Asset Program after graduation, and is being sponsored by Bening Ford of Perryville. He will attend 8 weeks of classes, followed by an 8-week internship at Bening.

"I was very excited to learn that we'd qualified for the Ford/AAA competition," he said. "It's an honor to get to go, and I'm looking forward to the experience."

Robert, the son of Owen and Melissa Sandler, is a senior at Meadow Heights High School. He is unsure of his post-graduation plans, and said he was surprised to learn he'd been among the top scorers.

"I was very surprised," he said. "I couldn't believe it when Mr. Canter said that I was part of the team and that we'd be going to the state finals. I'm looking forward to it."

To qualify for the state finals, automotive students across the state took a written exam in February. The two highest-scoring students from each school become that school's team, and the top ten from the state qualify to compete in the 90-minute hands-on portion of the contest.

The 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition State Hands-On for Missouri and Kansas is set for May 7 at Pittsburg State University. Pittsburg, Kan. Competitors will have a work order placed on the dash of a 2015 Ford vehicle with bugged parts installed in various systems of the vehicle to simulate real-world problems. Competitors must be able to start the vehicle and repair item of concern on the repair order and then take it for final judging. Demerits will be assessed for problems not found or poor quality workmanship.

The team from each state with the least amount of demerits and a time factor calculated in will win the competition. The winning team from each state will advance to the national finals at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., from June 7-9, 2015. At the national finals, champions from each state will vie for millions of dollars in scholarships, automotive equipment and a trip to the Wood Brothers Racing facility where the students and instructor will work on racecars and learn from top automotive engineers.

"We are thrilled that the Ford Motor Company along with AAA are recognizing two of our outstanding students, Josh Medlin and Robert Mattingly, from our Auto Service Technology program," said PACTC Director Craig Hayden.

"We are extremely excited that both students may have the opportunity to travel to the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich., should they excel at regional competition.

"Josh and Robert are commended on their hard work and performance while attending the Perryville Area Career and Technology Center," Mr. Hayden said. "We would also like to recognize Mr. Tom Canter, instructor, for his time, commitment and dedication to our Auto Service Technology program."