2015-05-22 / Neighbors

Student mechanic chosen to represent Maine

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Scarborough High School junior Michael Libby works under the hood of a Ford Explorer in his automotive technology class at Westbrook Regional Vocational Center Friday, May 15. (Michael Kelley photo) Scarborough High School junior Michael Libby works under the hood of a Ford Explorer in his automotive technology class at Westbrook Regional Vocational Center Friday, May 15. (Michael Kelley photo) Scarborough High School junior Michael Libby grew up around cars and has been working on automobiles as long as he can remember. Now, years later, these skills will give Libby national exposure. In June, Libby and Gabrial Scamman of Windham will represent Maine in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals at Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. Both Libby and Scamman are part of the daily automotive program at Westbrook Regional Vocational Center (WRVC).

“Since I was little I have been fixing things,” said Libby who, a few years ago, took apart, reworked and fixed the front end of a John Deere tractor that had been sitting unused and broken on the lawn of his house near Nonesuch Golf Course.

This is Libby’s first year at the vocational center, which offers students from Gorham, Bonny Eagle, Windham, Scarborough and Westbrook high schools instruction in 14 vocational programs.

Programs include: automotive technology, building trades, commercial truck driving, computer repair, culinary arts, drafting, early childhood education, electricity, heavy equipment operation, as well as marketing, medical occupations, public safety and Web page design.

“I’ve worked on different cars and I have worked on my dad’s truck and I really like it. I took a tour here and I saw this as a really cool program and thought I really want to do this,” Libby said of tech I, WRVC’s introduction to automotive repair.

The year-long program covers basic safety and shop equipment operation during the first quarter before moving onto brake, steering and suspension systems in the second and third quarters.

The final quarter, which is underway now, covers engine performance, ignition and the fuel and emission systems.

The program works on vehicles both donated to WRVC and vehicles brought in for diagnostics and repair work.

Libby and Scamman, a senior at Windham

High School, qualified for the national student auto skills final by besting nine other pairs of Maine High School students at the state final at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, where they had to fix bugs in a 2015 Ford Fiesta SE.

WRVC automotive instructor Carter Waldron said despite their success, the two students have had little chance to work together, in part because Scamman, a tech II student, comes in an hour after Libby leaves for the day.

Just like the state final, students will have to debug a Ford vehicle and answer a series on online questions. Neither student, nor Waldron, knows what vehicle that will be.

“We don’t know what sort of car it will be. No one does,” Waldron said. “We are trying to do whatever we can to make sure they are ready. We are trying to make sure they have a good background (of what might be asked of them).”

The Student Auto Skills competition is in its 66th year. AAA and Ford are longtime sponsors.

“Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills energizes young people about the great potential in the automotive technician profession and encourages them to get the best training possible,” said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England. “The industry is constantly changing and, as vehicular technology becomes increasingly complex, we need bright young minds to step up to help keep drivers safe and our vehicles efficient. The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition gives motivated students a chance to obtain the latest technical training and opportunities to pay for it.”

At the national final, Libby and Scamman will be competing against 49 other teams for $12 million in prizes and scholarships, including a full ride to Universal Technical Institute, a job shadow with Wood Brothers Racing, a Virginia-based racing team that has been competing in NASCAR since the 1950s and the title of America’s Best Stu- dent Auto Technician.

Waldron said what he does know is that the competition will be harder.

“It’s a much higher level. They will have to do double of what they did at states,” said Waldron, who is bringing students to the competition for the second time.

Libby said he has tried to learn as much as he can in recent weeks to be ready for whatever the competition might throw at him.

“I think I’ve learned more in the last month than I ever did before. I’ve been cramming the last month,” said Libby, who is also taking English, U.S. history and pre-calculus at Scarborough High School.

For his work at the state final, Libby was awarded a scholarship to Central Maine Community College, where there is a Ford factory-certified automotive program.

Libby said he is interested in continuing his automotive technology training next year by taking the tech II course and possibly make a career out of auto mechanics.

“There are a lot of different roads you can go down with automotive,” Libby said. Want to comment on this story? Login to our website at leader.mainelymediallc.com and let us know your thoughts.

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