The automotive technology program at Sumner High School is now the talk of the town.
Colt Evans, 18, a junior in John McDonald’s advanced automotive technology class, earned a gold medal in the auto maintenance portion of the SkillsUSA State Competition on April 3-4 at Bates Technical College. Evans also received a congratulatory $10,000 scholarship to Universal Technical Institute.
“I was stunned,” Evans said. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool!”
In January, Evans took second place at the SkillsUSA regional competition, which qualified him to go onto the state competition.
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McDonald, who has taught the auto technology program at Sumner High for nine years, was equally stunned. He said winning over other public schools in the state and specialized state Skills Centers who hand-pick their own students and command larger budgets is no easy task.
“I was thrilled and stunned,” McDonald said. “We beat the big schools locally and on the east side that have much more funding for their auto programs. This was the big league for me and my school and my students.”
The $10,000 scholarship Evans received to attend UTI was “a very nice gift to receive on top of the gold medal,” McDonald said.
“Many of his classmates are very envious of him (for) getting the scholarship,” McDonald added. “That has really been the talk of the school after he won that SkillsUSA medal.”
The auto maintenance competition included three sections: written tests, resume and interview, and hands-on application and demonstration.
The third section, Evans said, was the most heavily weighted. It included him changing the fan belt and air filter on a vehicle, checking the oil and replacing the PCV valve, and pressurizing the cooling system and checking for leaks. Evans had to also identify different parts of the car and the tools used on the car.
Evans just kept his cool the whole time through the competition.
“You’ve got to keep calm,” he said. “I’m not super competitive, so I wasn’t worried if I won or lost. I just did what I usually do and kept a cool head.”
The teenager currently works part time as an lube oil technician at Honest-1 Auto Care in Tacoma.
“They’re training me on high-level stuff,” he said.
Evans hopes to attend Bates Technical High School next fall for his senior year, where he will be able to take up to four hours of auto shop in a school day.
Following graduation, Evans wants to specialize in diesel engines and heavy equipment.
“There is a lot more money in diesel,” he said. “The future is a lot brighter for diesel. Diesel is becoming much more efficient. It’s eking out gasoline.”