Southwestern Automotive Student Headed to National Contest

Cody McCunn and Clay MercerCRESTON — Clay Mercer of Corning, a Southwestern Community College sophomore, recently placed first in automotive refinishing at the Iowa SkillsUSA 2009 competition in Ankeny.  Mercer, who is finishing his second year in SWCC’s collision repair program, is now eligible to compete at the National SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City, MO, June 22-25, 2009.

During the statewide competition, which was held during SkillsUSA’s Statewide Leadership Conference at Des Moines Area Community College in early-May, Mercer was asked to demonstrate hands-on skills such as panel painting, spot/blend refinishing, masking, and color analysis; write a damage estimate; complete a 75-question ASE-style (Automotive Service Excellence-style) exam; and submit a current resume. 
Mercer was nominated by his instructors for a state leadership award as well.  SWCC’s automotive instructors received word after returning home from competition that Mercer received the leadership award and an academic award.

Mercer, a 2005 Corning High School graduate, is the son of Doug & Janet Mercer of Corning. 

Cody McCunn of Elliott, a SWCC second-year collision repair student, also fared well in the Iowa SkillsUSA championships bringing home third-place honors in the collision repair competition.  Like Mercer, McCunn received the competition’s academic award.

McCunn, a 2001 Griswold High School graduate, is the son of Tony McCunn of Red Oak and Becky Keith of Mountain Center, CA.

According to Jeff Magneson, SWCC collision repair instructor, the SkillsUSA competition gave SWCC students opportunities to compete against the best-of-the best from Iowa’s community colleges. 

“I am extremely proud of how our students performed during the competition,” Magneson stated.  “We went in hoping to finish in the middle of the pack and came out as the only community college to have medalists in both categories.”

This was the first time Magneson had taken students to the SkillsUSA contest.

Southwestern is one of 11 community colleges in Iowa with an automotive collision repair program.  SWCC’s collision repair/refinish program is one of two programs in Iowa to have the ASE (The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence)/NATEF (National Automotive Technician Education Foundation) certification and the only program in the state to have the I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair) Gold Class designation.  SWCC's collision repair/refinish program is based on the I-CAR Enhanced Delivery curriculum and offers hands-on experiences in the classroom.  Courses are taught by ASE-certified instructors who have platinum level I-CAR designations. 

PHOTO (L to R):  Cody McCunn and Clay Mercer