Mimi Van Tuyl, 17, enjoys hands-on aspect of learning in the automotive industry

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Mimi Van Tuyl, 17, has studied automotive technology since she was a sophomore at Sandy High School Traditional academics like math and writing have never really been Sandy senior Mimi Van Tuyl's cup of tea. A kinesthetic learner, Van Tuyl would rather utilize her hands to fix a car than to operate a calculator, and that passion has procured her a place in the Mt. Hood Community College's Ford ASSET program.

Through the college's Ford Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) Program, Van Tuyl will earn an associate's degree of applied science. The program, according to the school's website, is "designed to provide technically competent, professional level technicians for Ford dealerships."

"Nothing really appealed to me in class," Van Tuyl told The Post. "The hands-on aspect (of automotive technology) is really appealing. … My dad's really proud I've found something that's a career path."

Van Tuyl was introduced to Sandy High School's automotive program by her friends two years ago, and little did she know that first day in the shop had set the wheels in motion for her future career.

"(It sounded) like something I could do that would keep me focused and engaged," she said. "I like that you can always (continue to) learn in the industry."

Last year, Van Tuyl was given the opportunity to job shadow at Sandy's own Suburban Ford Auto Group — the owners of which are large financial supporters of the ASSET program. At first, she said she wasn't sure working in a dealership environment was for her, and was nervous she wasn't social enough and therefore wouldn't fit in.

She was happy to find she was wrong.

"I absolutely love the Sandy Suburban Ford," Van Tuyl said. "I can absolutely see myself working here long-term. They're really friendly and inviting."

Lucky for Van Tuyl, after she completes her two years at Mt. Hood, she has the opportunity intern with and possibly work for the Sandy Suburban Ford crew. And even though she's not a huge fan of mathematics, she thinks that endgame of being able to work in her hometown shop is worth the struggle.

"I'm going to be learning specifically how Ford engines work and taking more math courses," she explained. "I'm most looking forward to learning about the electrical (aspects)."

In the past, Van Tuyl helped her grandfather finish the electrical work in a house renovation and found she really appreciated the interconnected quality of the task.

"I like the aspect of finding the solution," she said. "I wish there were more opportunities for me to learn (at Sandy High School). That's why I'm excited. They say the more you want to learn the farther you'll go."

The fact that automotive technology is a very male-dominated field doesn't seem to worry Van Tuyl either. She doesn't see any limits to what she can do in the mechanical industry.

"People are like, 'Are you sure?' You know not a lot of girls do this,'" she said. "I see it as filling a need, and I just happen to be a girl. At the end of the day, if you love what you're doing, that's what matters."

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