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Diman students prep for state Auto Skills competition

Michael Gagne
Herald News Staff Reporter
L->R Diman students Robert Sampson and Alex Dorais speak with Auto Technology Teacher Michael Farias, First Ford's Harold Cimorelli Jr., and Auto Technology Teacher John Chicharro

First Ford
L->R Chicharro, Cimorelli, Sampson, Diman School Committee members Don DiBiasio and Tom Chase, Dorais, Diman Assistant Superintdent/Principal Kyle Alves, Farias, and First Ford's Robert Rocha, and Mitch Lown.

First Ford
L->R DiBiasio, Chicharro, Sampson, Dorais, First Ford owner Joe Ruggiero Jr., and Cimorelli

Dorais and Sampson diagnose a "bug". Photo by Jack Foley.

FALL RIVER — Alex Dorais and Robert Sampson both wore goggles as they peered into the engine compartment of one of the latest vehicles to roll into the automotive technology shop at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School last Thursday morning.

That vehicle was a dark gray 2015 Ford Fiesta. It came courtesy of the city's First Ford dealership on William S. Canning Boulevard.

The students, both seniors at the school, were troubleshooting a so-called "bug" programmed in the car. Dorais held a scan tool hooked up to the car's electrical system; it indicated there was a problem somewhere in the engine. The pair had to find it.

Dorais and Sampson are preparing for a statewide Auto Skills competition co-sponsored by Ford and AAA in Norwood next month, with the hopes of being among those teams who earn high enough scores to qualify to the national competition in June. That competition will be held in Dearborn, Michigan, where Ford's headquarters is located.

They had just solved one bug. It involved the radiator fan, which stayed on, Sampson said.

Sampson, holding a bright light over the engine, looked down and pointed toward the radiator as he spoke.
"We were looking to see if there were any bad connections," he said. They found an unplugged wire, "and we plugged it back in," he said.

Sampson and Dorais qualified for the competition by earning the highest scores at their school on a recent Automotive Service Excellence exam.

Automotive Technology Department head John Chicharro said, based on that test, 15 students from the school qualified for the competition. Sampson and Dorais were the top two finishers, he said.

"I think we have a good team," Chicharro said.

At the Auto Skills competition, each team competing will be diagnosing and troubleshooting the same problems bugged into their vehicles. They will be scored based on how accurately they diagnose and troubleshoot the bugs, and how long it takes them to do so.

Michael Farias, an instructor in the automotive shop, explained that "bugging" and practicing on the same type of vehicle that will be used in the competition will enable the students to practice.

"It gives students a chance to look at components," he said.

Navigating through the vehicle's sophisticated electronics "is the hard part," Dorais said. Diagnosing a single bug can take from a minute to several minutes, he said.

Officials from the school thanked the dealership.

"I would like to thank First Ford for providing the vehicle. Without it, our students wouldn't be as prepared for the competition," said Diman Assistant Superintendent-Director/Principal Kyle Alves.

"We're happy to help out," said Harold Cimorelli Jr., the dealership's service and parts director.

First Ford owner Joe Ruggiero Jr. echoed Cimorelli's sentiments.

"We're just happy to support them and will continue to support the school," Ruggiero said.