By Crystal Carry
By Crystal Carry
Imagine walking up to a room and planning to feel awkward and intimidated by an overwhelming number of guys.
You breathe a sigh of relief as you walk into one of the rooms of the Riverside Community College Automotive Technology Department, because the first person that you see is a young woman.
With 315 students in the Automotive Technology Department, and only 15 of them are women.
Despite overwhelming odds, Automotive Technology student Caitlin Ryan does not look out of place or uncomfortable for being in a class with mostly guys.
The guys in the RCC Automotive Technology Program encourage and support Ryan.
“It is cool for a girl to be in the program,” said Automotive Body Technology student Matt Hutcheson.
Ryan still feels like she has to prove herself in a way, but it does not have to do with her being a woman in the Automotive Department.”(Most of the students) already work in the industry and me, I’m still learning,” she said.
Ryan, being a woman, has several advantages over the guys in the program.
“There is something about girls; they are different,” Hutcheson said. “Maybe it is that they are a little picky and pay more attention to details.”
The RCC Automotive Department offers five different programs. There is the Automotive Body Technology program and there is a General Automotive Technology program geared towards mechanics and electronics, you can earn a degree and certificate for both programs. The three other programs are corporate programs through Toyota, Ford and General Motors.
“The student goes to school for nine weeks and then gets paid to work in a dealership for nine weeks,” said RCC Automotive Technology Department Director Paul O’Connell. RCC students can earn a degree and receive a certificate while they obtain full factory certification from the program.
Ryan is in the General Automotive Technology program and has been a part of the program for a year and a half. She enrolled because she wanted to work on cars.
“I love them,” Ryan said. “My friends are really into cars and I was always around them growing up.”
“When I got my Jeep Cherokee and started going off road I thought it was so much fun,” she said. “That’s what really got me interested in working on cars.”
She is preparing to get an Associates in Automotive Technology degree. “I would like to work in a performance truck shop rather than at a dealership,”she said.
“I would like to work on suspension and lifts, fabrication and the build up of trucks,” she said.
Currently, Ryan is taking lecture and lab classes for brakes, electrical and arc welding.
“I learn more in lab because everyone has to do one of each thing and then get it checked off,” she said. “I get to put it together myself and I actually understand it then.”
Ryan is taking the skills she has learned from the program outside of the classroom. “I have a Jeep and right now I am working on rebuilding the engine,” she said.
“She does some stuff better than the boys,” Hutcheson said. “Let’s just say, she is better than the majority of students.”
“She is going to make a successful technician,”O’Connel said.