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Students participate in state auto competition

A pair of automotive students from Unicoi County High School represented their school with high marks during the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills state competition held last month at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville.
Jesse Coltrane and Jordan Dixon were accompanied by Keith Greer, automotive instructor at the vocational school, to the event. The students returned to Erwin on May 11 after earning seventh place in the competition. Along with the accolades, the students received support from individuals in the community, including Todd Love of Erwin Motors.
“It is a feeder program for us,” Love said about the vocational training. “We appreciate the time and effort they put into it. I’ve tried to be involved with the vocational school as much as I can, even if it’s just providing a vehicle when they go down to the event.”
The profession Coltrane and Dixon are heading into continues to grow, Love added, due to a need for automotive specialists.
“Techs are in big demands nowadays,” he said, “and they are making real good money, too. A lot of the stuff nowadays is more computer-based. It is less about bolt-turning and more about programming.”
Dixon, who was at Erwin Motors on Wednesday, May 27, also received a $4,000 scholarship for a fifth-place finish in the SkillsUSA Automotive for his work this year.
“It meant a lot to go there,” Dixon said about the trip to Lane Motor Museum. “It gave us a sense of gratitude for things that may not always happen. Being there competing, we learned to cope with stress and things that can hinder us performing at our best.”
When the dust settled, the experience is something both students will remember, Dixon added.
“We realized, regardless if we did good or bad, that it is something only 10 teams from the state get to go to and we’re really grateful for that opportunity,” he said. “To be able to place seventh and have that record through SkillsUSA and Ford/AAA competitions, it is something that we can show appreciation for. Schools are striving hard to go to these competitions, to be one of the few schools that can go this event is something we are real grateful for.”
Dixon expressed appreciation on behalf of the entire vocational school for the support received from the community.
“It was great to know the community was there to help,” he said. “The community is always there to back each other up when it needs to be done. Todd Love gave us the vehicle to go down in and a local business provided us a piece of diagnosis equipment to use down at the competition. The overall support of the community gave us a good moral boost to go down and have a fun time with it.”
Along with duties at Erwin Motors, Love serves on the advisory board at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology in Elizabethton. With Coltrane and Dixon entering their senior years for 2016, the vocational school provides an extra boost in allowing students to determine their job professions, Love said.
“It helps them determine if that’s what they want to do,” he said. “They have to get started somewhere and it goes that way in any profession. We’re very fortunate to have the tech schools locally like Northeast State and the tech school in Elizabethton. I serve on the advisory board there and I think I’ve hired five from that program. If it is a profession you like, it could be very lucrative.”