Douglas High auto shop students each win $6,500 prize

Douglas High seniors Josh Carlson, 18, and Adrian Garcia, 17, said it was nerve-wracking trying to figure out what was wrong with a purposely-bugged car during the Nevada Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition in Reno on May 5.

But the dynamic duo used skills they learned in Douglas High teacher Cade Baligad's auto tech class and placed third.

"It came down to time," said Garcia. "We had a perfect car except for a pair of needle-nosed pliers we left under the hood."

Carlson grinned, saying he was responsible for the pliers.

"Without that mistake, we'd be competing in the nationals," he said.

The students can't complain too much, though. The third place win garnered each $6,500 to pursue automotive studies after high school.

Carlson, who has been taking auto tech for three years, is Baligad's assistant. He helped write the grant for the 1923 Ford T-Bucket students are working on.

"Ideally, it will be done before school is out, and Josh can wrap up his time here with it," said Baligad.

Baligad said students applauded the first time the engine was fired up.

"Josh and I will have to arm wrestle over who gets to drive it first," he said. "We are just waiting on the car's body."

Carlson plans to attend Western Nevada College, complete his general education requirements, then use his prize money to go to Ohio Technical College. He is also pursuing a job offer from Capital Ford in Carson City. He eventually wants to become a cruise ship engine mechanic or, staying with cars, come back to Douglas High School to teach.

"I have to thank Mr. Baligad for all the encouragement he has given me," said Carlson. "Over the last three years, he has given me an incredible amount of training and skills. He's been a good friend, and he gave me the motivation I needed to earn my diploma."

Garcia also thanked Baligad. A transfer student from California, he's had less time with the popular teacher, but said he's learned a lot, nonetheless.

"He taught me how to do stuff on my own," he said. "That's how you learn."Garcia will spend his prize money next fall. In October, he'll be attending the Universal Technical Institute in Sacramento, Calif. where he plans on becoming a master technician.

"My dream car to work on is a 1970 Chevelle," he said. "I would like to put a 2006 Corvette engine in it."

Garcia thanked mechanic Benny Trujillo and his family for their help.

"I want to thank my mom, Terri Page, and my grandparents, Liz and Don Pointer," he said.

Baligad said both students have been extremely committed to the program.

"These types of kids are the reason I come to work everyday," he said.


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