March 15, 1999
Steve Barmuta (left) and Aaron Pierce (right) are preparing for the New York Car Dealers Association Competition with the help of Doug Angell (middle), Bothell High's auto shop instructor.
Staff photo by Chris Trujillo.
by Chris Trujillo, staff reporter
During his freshman year at Ballard High School, Steve Barmuta recalls sitting in auto shop, learning little while his teacher spent the hour reading a newspaper. At one point, the instructor told his class that if they wanted to learn, they should read a book. That wasn't exactly the kind of teaching Barmuta was looking for.
Fortunately, those days are long gone. Today, Barmuta, a senior at Bothell High, is doing more in shop than just counting minutes or thumbing through a complex text. In fact, Barmuta and classmate Aaron Pierce are gearing up for the New York Car Dealers Association Competition, which will be held Mar. 29-Apr.2 in New York City.
Last year, Bothell High's auto shop program was ranked second-best in the nation. That accolade has brought with it many benefits, including local support. This year's trip to New York is being funded by the Puget Sound Automotive Association.
Barmuta and Pierce, who were selected to attend the competition by Bothell's auto shop instructor, Doug Angell, have demonstrated excellent knowledge and the desire to further their careers in the automotive maintenance world.
"Steve has demonstrated an excellent work ethic. He is consistent and steady," Angell said. "As for Mr. Pierce, he, too, is an excellent worker. Aaron carries with him a strong professional air. The two boys are very mature for their ages and are very goal-oriented."
Though Barmuta and Pierce seem to be on the same life path, it's clear they come from different ends of the road. The soft-spoken Barmuta began toying with cars at the age of four, while the unrestrained Pierce began his voyage just one year ago.
Barmuta, who placed second last year at Regionals for auto service, has verbally committed to the Shoreline Community College automotive school beginning next fall. He is enrolled in the Honda program, which is a two-year plan. He will spend 11 weeks doing class work and the other 11 working for Honda in the field.
"The Honda program is pretty much what we do here," Barmuta said. "You work full-time throughout the program, and then you report back and tell them what you have learned. I'll learn everything there is to know about Honda vehicles."
As for Pierce, whose direction is still a bit cloudy, he is hoping to gain admission into the General Motors program, also held at Shoreline CC.
"I am in limbo right now," Pierce said. "But I am pretty sure that I will attend the GM program."
Once they arrive in the Big Apple, the two students will compete against 62 of the nation's finest future master technicians. The competition will include four stations demanding different troubleshooting solutions. The final event will be the detection and diagnosis of a bug that has been placed in a 1999 Mazda 626.
"They work very hard," Angell said. "They come in three times a week for two to four hours. And thanks to Lynnwood Honda, which has lent us a new 626, they should be fully prepared."
Regardless of their placing, Angell said the two have an excellent chance to receive scholarships that would pay their education in full. "Placing high is always important," Angell said. "But being invited is a victory in itself."