Twenty young auto technicians are competing today for the title of tops in the state.Ten new Ford Mustangs are lined up at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, each with eight different bugs planted under the hood. The two-man teams from ten Iowa high schools are being timed to fix them. Gary Klopp is automotive operations manager for Triple-A/Iowa which is co-sponsoring the contest. He says one goal is to get entry-level technicians into the field.Klopp says more than 85-percent of the functions on a new car are controlled by computers. Technicians have to rely more on brainpower than muscle power to keep the vehicles running. He says techs can earn 35-to-75-thousand dollars a year, but the profession still suffers from a “grease monkey” reputation. He says they’re trying to educate people that they need technicians, not mechanics.The top Iowa team will go on to the national finals to compete for scholarships and prizes. Teams competing today are from: Bedford, Cedar Rapids, Davenport (2), Des Moines, Dubuque, LeMars, Manchester, Perry and Waukon. All of this year’s Iowa competitors are male but Klopp says past contests have featured young women.
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