published Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

East Ridge students rev up for engine prize


by Naomi Jagoda

Ten East Ridge high schoolers were on a mission: to quickly and accurately disassemble and reassemble a car engine.

First, one team of five handled the deconstruction. Then the second team put the engine back together. All the while, during the demonstration at the East Ridge Education Committee meeting Monday night, automotive teacher Rainey Horne yelled into a microphone headset, cheering on his students.

The teams of students completed the whole task in 21 minutes and 53 seconds, beating the national record by almost three minutes. They also had a “clean build,” Horne said.

In November, the two teams of five will compete against each other and eight other teams for the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow national title at the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s show in Las Vegas. Unlike in the demonstration, each team in the competition will both take apart and put together engines.

Each member of the competition’s winning team receives a $10,000 scholarship to some of the top schools for automotive studies. Last year, an East Ridge team placed second in the competition and set a national speed record, Horne said.

Horne added that his students do well because they act like a family.

“All these kids are like my own kids,” he said, adding that neither team will be upset if the other wins.

The students study automotive technologies at school and train for competitions after school, Horne said. “All the manufacturers are looking to pull from these students,” he said.

Joseph Alonzo, an East Ridge senior, said the automotive program has opened many doors for him. He plans to continue his automotive studies at the University of Northwestern Ohio and hopes to then go to law school.

During the education committee meeting, Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd presented the group with a $5,000 check from the county. Horne said the money will be used for uniforms.

Contact staff writer Naomi Jagoda at njagoda@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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