A test of automotive skill
Mascenic grads go head-to-head with best at nationals
Peter Somero, 19, left, and Duncan Fafard, 18, both of New Ipswich, run a diagnostic on a 2013 Ford during a recent national auto competition.
Mascenic graduates Duncan Fafard, 18, left, and Peter Somero, 19, stand with their automotive instructor, Vince Fittante, and a 2013 Ford they had to debug during a national competition of automotive skill held in Dearborn, Mich., on Tuesday.
Two newly graduated Mascenic students returned from a national automotive competition in Michigan on Wednesday , having earned 34th place out of 50 among the country’s best entry-level technician teams.
Earlier in the year, Peter Somero, 19, and Duncan Fafard, 18, both of New Ipswich, handily netted a first place win for themselves at a state AAA/Ford Student Auto Skills state competition in Epping, coming in miles ahead of, not only other New Hampshire teams, but also competitors from both Vermont and Maine, who also held their state competitions the same day.
But with a national-level competition comes a national-level challenge, said their Automotive instructor, Vince Fittante in a phone interview shortly after the competition. At their state win, Somero and Fafard turned in a perfect car in about 35 minutes. At nationals, he winning team, from Oregon, took 55 minutes.
“You can’t even compare the two,” Fittante said of the difference in difficulty between the state and national competitions. “The complexity goes up dramatically. I know they were hoping for a better finish, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed with how they did. Some of it comes down to chance. If they had this same test tomorrow with a different set of bugs, it would have been a different outcome. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, they put their heart and soul into it.”
On Tuesday, the two boys and their teacher were in Dearborn, Mich., competing against teams from all 50 states. Like the state competition, all the teams had to deal with an identical car, riddled with identical bugs, and other issues keeping it from running properly. The problems ranged from things as mundane as a burnt-out headlight to more complex issues, such as problems with a vacuum leak or the air conditioning vent module.
The two Mascenic grads pushed right up until the contest’s 11∕2 hour time limit, making the decision to close their hood at 79 minutes and 47 seconds, even though they hadn’t yet completed repairs on all 10 bugs presented. And even though they didn’t get to finish, Fittante said he was proud of their efforts.
“They did the best they could, and for what they repaired, they did it in less than an hour and a half,” he said. “I think they did well.”
Somero and Fafard both said in an interview at the Mascenic Automotive shop shortly before leaving for the competition that they would like to enter the automotive field following graduation. Fafard plans to pursue further education with scholarship money he earned at the state competition. He was offered a $10,000 scholarship for Ohio Technical College, which has one of the few classic car restoration courses in the country, a particular interest of Fafard’s.
Somero also has multiple scholarship offers from colleges resulting from his state automotive win, but said he was undecided on his future plans. He currently works at Ronnie’s Small Engine in Jaffrey, and said that continuing to learn about small engine repair is a definite future career possibility for him.