Our Islands, Our Future

Shannon Rowe, a 1996 state auto mechanic champion and national runner-up, pours his time and energy into creating a new line of skilled students. “The ones who succeed are the ones who work hard and put a lot of time into it,” Rowe said. He and his Maui High School seniors Mitchell Borge and Lawrence Paet are heading this summer to the 2013 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition in Dearborn, Michigan. The competition fosters young people’s interest in the automotive industry through a nationwide contest that provides scholarships, tools and awards along with an experience that could help shape their future careers.

After 12 years as an auto mechanic at Valley Isle Motors, Rowe followed his retired teacher and mentor Dennis Ishii to teach auto mechanics at Maui High School. Through a county grant administered by Maui Economic Development Board, Rowe  who holds top level industry certifications  teaches and then coaches with the support of Ishii, who serves as a mentor partner. “It’s a unique situation. If we didn’t have the grant, the Maui High program would not have continued at this level today or it would have been severely diminished,” Rowe said. Under Rowe and Ishii’s mentorship, they’ve produced four state champions in the last five-and-a-half-years. The student auto skills contest is “a small portion” of what Rowe does. “Really it is more about producing skilled students. Hopefully they go on and make a career out of it and if they don’t, at least they know something about fixing cars,” Rowe said.