Second Auto Skills Challenge and Career Fair Draws 275 Area High School Students

Naomi Prunchak and Natasha Zavala of Savanna High School Regional Occupational Program, with their teacher Carlos Sanchez.

Local high school students got a chance to put their training to the test at the second annual Automotive Skills Challenge and Career Fair this week on campus. Nine schools competed, and two others attended, the combination competition and auto industry professional meet-and-greet, the only one of its kind in the region.

Around 275 students visited exhibitor tables and attended educational workshops in addition to seeing who would take home first prize for their skills. Workshops gave the prospective Cypress College Auto Tech students an opportunity to learn about subjects such as alternative fuel, industry employment roles, new car dealership management, and equipment marketing association scholarships. The Auto Collision Repair program and Aviation and Travel Careers department held separate workshops, on topics that included body welding and flying drones.

The outdoor tables featured 22 companies representing 31 brands, including several industry leaders. Manufacturers Ford, Bridgestone, Snap-On, FormulaD, Electude, and Penske Automotive were represented, along with dealerships Tuttle-Click, Norm Reeves Honda, Downey Nissan, Jaguar/Land Rover Newport Beach, Tustin Toyota, McKenna Cars, Tom’s Truck Center, Browning Automotive Group. The groups Orange County Automotive Dealers Association and Specialty Equipment Market Association were on hand to share information with students about their future in the automotive industry.

But the main event was the skills challenge. Seven stations throughout the shop held standard auto repair and maintenance tasks, and participants worked fast to beat the clock.

Three teams took home trophies and prizes. The grand prize winners also were a first in another category – the first all-women team to win. The honor went to Naomi Prunchak and Natasha Zavala of Savanna High School Regional Occupational Program, with their teacher Carlos Sanchez.

Second prize was awarded to Nathaniel Aldana and Michael Arreola North Orange County Regional Occupational Program La Habra High School, with their teacher Daniel Moreno. Devyn Azzolina  and Lenny Ramirez, with teacher Oscar Chavez, of North Orange County Regional Occupational Program, Buena Park, took third prize.

Current Cypress College students in the general Automotive Technology program and the Toyota T-TEN program volunteered to guide students and assist with the skills challenges. The two winners from 2023, Damian Garza and Angel Beltran, who attended Rancho Alamitos High School last year, were back, this time as Cypress College student volunteers.

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