Whoever said ‘knowledge is its own reward,’ obviously never won a whole bunch of brand-new tools.
Seventeen Oxford High School auto students put their knowledge to the test as part of the annual Mini-MITES competition and more than half of them walked away with prizes that would make any mechanic envious.
Max Zeiger took first place in the competition, Mitch Essenmacher finished second and Joe Legault placed third.
“It was a very tight competition, said Auto Technology Instructor Dan Balsley, who’s been with the district since 1986. “I think there were more students that had mastered the areas.”
Students competed in six areas – brakes, steering and alignment, suspension, electrical, scan tool diagnostics and automotive measurement. They also took a written test.
“It’s a hands-on, skill-oriented competition,” Balsley explained. “They have to perform tasks, take readings, identify parts. It’s a good assessment of their skills and knowledge.”
Inspired by the larger state competition, Balsley started Mini-MITES in 2014.
Every year, MITES, which stands for Michigan Industrial and Technology Education Society, hosts a statewide competition for high school students studying the various skilled trades.
Balsley organized this smaller version as a way to motivate his upperclassmen. “I had the brake competition for Auto Tech 1,” he said. “This is for the Auto Tech 2/3 class.”
Auto Tech 2 students compete, while Auto Tech 3 students set up and supervise the competition areas, make the score sheets and grade the contestants.
“The Auto 3 students really make this happen,” Balsley noted.
Unlike the brake competition, which consists of two-person teams, Mini-MITES is “an individual competition.”
“Each student is responsible for their own successes or failures,” Balsley said.
Balsley likes that while preparing for Mini-MITES, the students end up teaching each other.
“One student told me that he had learned more in the 10 minutes (he spent) with this other student than he had in a whole unit,” he said. “I was pleased with that because it was peer tutoring. Bottom-line, they’re learning and that’s what I had in mind (when starting the competition).”
In addition to the overall winners, there were first through third place finishers in each category. Here they are:
• Brakes – Joe Wilkins (first), James Remington (second) and Mitch Essenmacher (third).
• Steering and Alignment – Mitch Essenmacher (first), Joe Legault (second) and David Lawrie (third).
• Suspension – Mitch Essenmacher (first), Joe Legault (second) and Josh Taylor (third).
• Electrical – Nolan Skirke (first), Max Zeiger (second) and Mitch Essenmacher (third).
• Scan Tool Diagnostics – Max Zeiger (first), Mitch Essenmacher (second) and Josh Taylor (third).
• Automotive Measurement – Josh Schoenherr (first), Mitch Essenmacher (second) and Joe Legault (third).
• Written Test – Max Zeiger (first), Joe Legault (second) and Nolan Skirke (third).
Sponsors for this year’s Mini-MITES included the Rotary Club of Oxford, Steve’s Oxford Automotive, Wright Tool Co. and the Oxford McDonald’s.
“I think we gave away really, really nice prizes this year,” Balsley said. “It was nice to be able to do that for the students. They’re a good bunch.”