People Places & Racing News

High School Students Wrapping Up SEMA-Supported Jeep Wrangler TJ Builds

By Katie Hurst

SEMA has partnered with five high school automotive tech programs across the country to customize five Jeep Wrangler TJs. The semester-long build program is in the second year of a pilot that aims to introduce auto-shop students to customization by providing hands-on learning experiences with aftermarket products.

The participating schools include:

  • C.D. Hylton High School, Woodbridge, Virginia
  • Comstock High School, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • R.L. Turner High School, Carrollton, Texas
  • Santa Fe Early College Opportunities High School, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, Santa Ynez, California

The vehicles were delivered to the schools in mid-February with a steady flow of aftermarket products arriving shortly afterward. To help sustain the program, SEMA relies heavily on parts or service donations from automotive aftermarket parts manufacturers, retailers, WDs and service-provider members. Through this program, companies are supporting the preservation and expansion of automotive education in high schools. The vehicles will be sold upon completion of the builds with proceeds being reinvested back into the SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program to fund another round of builds.

The students of R.L. Turner High School were visited by members of the industry: Dennis Collins, Collins Bro’s Jeep; Dawson Druesdow, 4 Wheel Performance; Kelli Mallicote, Body Guard Bumpers; Kevin Taddeo, Add On Auto; Steven Sala, Eastman Chemical Company; BJ Leanse, Go Rhino; Matt Reasoner, Retrax; Matt Moore, Retrax; and Carol Walsh, Katzkin.

Students of Comstock High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan, lead a discussion about the vision for their build.




Students at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Ynez, California, were excited to receive their Black Rock wheels from The Carlstar Group.
C.D. Hylton High School automotive instructor Eddie Stevens (left) leads his students on the vehicle build in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Students install Rugged Ridge products at R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton, Texas.


The students at Santa Fe Early College Opportunities in Santa Fe, New Mexico, posed for a quick photo with their donated products from Rugged Ridge before getting back to working on the build.

The program has received more than 200 donated products from industry sponsors, including:

  • 4 Wheel Performance
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • aFe Power
  • Atturo Tire
  • Auto Image
  • Bloomfield Manufacturing Company (Hi-Lift)
  • BOLT Lock
  • The Carlstar Group/Cragar Wheels (Black Rock Wheels)
  • Collins Bros Jeeps (Black Mountain)
  • Covercraft
  • Diode Dynamics
  • Eastman Chemical Company (LLumar)
  • Finishmaster
  • Husky Liners
  • JcrOffroad
  • Just Jeep’N Stuff
  • Katzkin Automotive Leather
  • LKQ/Keystone Automotive
  • Omix-ADA (Rugged Ridge)
  • Painless Performance Products
  • Pilot Automotive (Rolling Big Power)
  • Quiet Ride Solutions
  • Rancho Suspension & Shocks
  • Rock Krawler Suspension
  • Safelite
  • Seatbelt Planet
  • Skyjacker Suspensions
  • Steele Rubber Products
  • T-REX Products Inc.
  • Truck’n America
  • Twisted Automotive
  • Unicorn Tire (Travelstar)

With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, the students are putting on their final touches to the builds. The vehicles will be available for purchase in the June/July timeframe. Check out the progress of these builds and learn more about the program at