KAPAA — Tiernan Kehoe’s new interest in mechanics and engineering has earned statewide recognition.
The junior at Kapaa High School was one of three auto shop students who recently competed at the State Skills USA Automotive Technology competition. He finished second and earned two scholarships.
Kehoe, who has competed twice on the state level, said he was confident going into the award’s banquet.
“I thought I did enough to place this year,” he said.
His fellow Kapaa High School competitors were more surprised than he was.
“When they announced Kapaa High School, and we heard Tiernan’s name, we froze in shock,” said Mason Silva.
Kehoe, Mason and Braxton Ah Nee were handpicked by the auto shop teacher, Ryne Terao, to represent the school at the state competition on Oahu.
Terao has been sending students to the Skills USA competition for three years and one of his students has placed in the top three for two of those years, he said.
Kehoe, Ah Nee and Silva started preparing for the competition in the fall. All three gave up free time to study.
“These are sharp kids, and they deserve to be recognized,” Terao said. “We try to help them fill their resumes and even though it was stressful, good things came out of it.”
Skills USA fosters career development for students in industrial and engineering programs. Competitions begin locally and continue at the state and national levels.
Only the winner advances to the state competition in Kentucky.
While Kehoe will not be moving on, he did not leave empty-handed. He received a $7,500 scholarship to the Universal Technical Institute, a $1,000 scholarship (per semester) that can used at any University of Hawaii Community College campus and a snap-on screwdriver set.
Since being involved in auto shop, Kehoe is thinking about pursuing a career as an engineer or mechanic.
The same is said for Ah Nee and Mason.
“I had no interest in auto shop before I started the class,” Ah Nee said.
Ah Nee, a senior, has taken auto shop every year since ninth grade. He serves as vice president of the Kapaa Chapter of Skills USA and plans to pursue a career as an automotive technician.
“I like being able to work on cars,” he said.
Silva, sophomore, also wants to have a career in the automotive industry.
“I want to be a master mechanic,” he said.