Gonzalez and Stephens apprenticed with several Prater Ford technicians in preparation for the 2009 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills State competition.
“It was very interesting—I learned a lot. This was a great learning opportunity, and it helped me at the competition,” said Alex Stephens.
Stephens and Gonzalez both did well at competition but they agreed that the best part of the experience was the training they received at Prater Ford.
Prater Ford Technicians John Dunn, Sherman Suttles, Terry Jenkins and others gave the students a thorough education on automotive repair and maintenance. Gonzalez and Stephens worked primarily on a 2009 Ford Focus and were tested at the end of the training.
“They bugged the car and then timed us to see how long we could figure out what the problem was and what to do,” explained Stephens. “It was so exciting. We figured out right a way that the coil pack was unplugged,” he said.
Stephens added that he most enjoys working on the engine area of cars and Gonzalez said that he is more inter-ested in the design and modifying the body style of vehicles.
Stephens will be attending NASCAR Technical Institute in North Carolina this fall on a scholarship. He plans to major in Motor Sports Engineering. Gonzalez plans to travel to Houston, Texas to attend Universal Technical Insti-tute and major in Collision Repair.
“Thank you to Mr. (Johnny) Thompson, our teacher, who made this happen. He gave us so much support and good food at the competition,” said Stephens.
Gonzalez and Stephens added that they were very thankful to Prater Ford for the opportunity to learn so much about a 2009 car.
“The technicians, Mr. Prater and well, everyone here has been so awesome. It is like a big family here,” Stephens said.
Both students said they hope to find summer jobs in the automotive industry this summer to prepare them for college.