The Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) scholarship program has awarded a record 182 scholarships to budding aftermarket technical personnel, including 25 Canadians from six provinces. The number of recipients surpasses the previous record of 132 which was set in 2001. In the six years of the scholarship, more than 500 students have received aid totaling more than $500,000 U.S. The record number of scholarships indicates the tremendous importance the aftermarket industry places in it s future, according to Mort Schwartz, GAAS scholarship chairman. "Considering today’s general economic conditions, it is a testament to the entire industry that we can award a record number of scholarships," said Schwartz, who noted that the overall quality of the applications this year was the most impressive ever. "And what’s so positive about this program is that the vast majority of students who receive a scholarship will enter our industry and most likely become the technicians of the future," he adds. The awarding of 25 scholarships to Canadian students representing six provinces is also a record. "We are delighted that so many Canadian students from across the country are benefiting from this scholarship program. It is an encouraging sign for the future of the industry," says Ray Datt, president of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada. The annual investment to help develop future aftermarket industry leaders is funded through proceeds from the annual Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium. This two-day program brings together numerous industry executives and examines the issues and trends affecting the automotive aftermarket industry and influencing its future. GAAS has become the aftermarket’s premier educational conference. The 2003 Symposium will be held Thursday, May 8 and Friday, May 9, 2003, at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, Mich. The scholarships are available to students in two-year technical college programs and vocational schools and four-year college programs. To be eligible for a GAAS scholarship, applicants must be enrolled full-time in a college-level program or a NATEF (National Automotive Technician Education Foundation) accredited automotive technical program. Graduate programs and part-time undergraduate programs do not qualify. The GAAS scholarship is also unique in that recipients can receive two financial grants: one while in school to assist with tuition and an equivalent, and a matching grant awarded to all scholarship recipients who graduate from their program and show proof of employment in the automotive aftermarket for at least six months after graduation. In addition to proceeds from the 2002 GAAS and through the support of the sponsoring industry associations, Schwartz also noted that the record number of recipients in 2002 was made possible through generous industry contributions and grants from family foundations, including the Lebensfeld Foundation. "It is important that we continue to generate the support of the industry to promote that these scholarships exist," Schwartz said. "We ask assistance from all manufacturers, distributors, retailers, program groups and vocational schools to help spread the word about this valuable program."