Henrico mechanic to represent Virginia at national competition

Henrico County’s Jason Sharpe recently outperformed mechanics from around the state to capture first place in the Virginia’s Best School Bus Technician Competition, held by the Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation (VAPT) in Spotsylvania County. Now he’s making travel plans for San Antonio, Tex., where he will represent the commonwealth at the national School Bus Technician’s Training and Skills Competition in September.

Sharpe, who was recognized by Henrico’s Board of Supervisors at its June 14 meeting, has worked as an automotive equipment mechanic at the county’s Central Automotive Maintenance facility since 2008.

“Jason is truly gifted and dedicated to his work and is a popular member of our staff,” said Automotive Fleet Manager Charles Gibbens. “He will do a great job representing Henrico County and Virginia in San Antonio.”

The VAPT competition consisted of a written exam as well as a timed hands-on segment that tested contestants’ problem-solving skills under pressure. Participants were presented with several buses requiring repair and then were evaluated on their diagnostic ability, speed and application of safety measures. Sharpe said he diagnosed repairs ranging from drivability issues to electrical malfunctions.

“There are times when you need to work quickly, such as when a bus is broken down on the road,” he said. “You pay attention to everything under the bus — that’s when experience comes into play.”

Sharpe, 28, holds an associate’s degree in automobile science from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. He said he grew up around people working on engines and vehicles.

“School buses are very sophisticated, especially in terms of electronics,” he said. “There is something new every day, and that keeps things interesting.”
Sharpe said the upcoming national competition will present an additional challenge — the flight to San Antonio will be his first trip aboard an airplane.

“There’s a little anxiety but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
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