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A former Army mechanic says the “unpredictable nature” of her job and being able to work with her hands are among the things she enjoys most about being a big-truck technician.
What sparked Lindsay Dunham’s interest in this field was when she took a small-engines class in high school. “Then, when I signed up for the military, I told them I wanted to be a mechanic — and I wouldn’t take any other job besides that,” said Dunham, 28, who was active-duty Army for six years.
As an Army mechanic, she worked on forklifts, container handlers and Humvees (high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles), among others, she said. “I just fell in love with working on trucks there.”
Dunham is now a service technician at Truck Center Cos., a Freightliner dealership in York, Neb. She’s been working there for three years, mostly on “big trucks,” she said.
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She likes the unpredictable nature of her job.
“Sometimes, you go into work, and you don’t know if you’re doing brakes, or service, or if you’re going to be doing a clutch,” Dunham said, adding it also could be hooking up the laptop to see what’s wrong with a truck. “Every day, it’s something different.”
A highlight for Dunham occurred at the 2016 National Student Technician Competition —TMC FutureTech — when she won the safety and environmental station.
“I won that one station, but it was awesome,” she said, noting that the station tests competitors’ knowledge on areas including Environmental Protection Agency rules. Areas tested include how to safely discard coolants, for example, said Dunham, who earned a certificate in Diesel Technology from WyoTech in Laramie, Wyo.
At her job, Dunham sets personal goals, such as “to do better on my times and to learn.”
“If I get a job that I’ve done before, I want to do it faster than the last time I did it,” she said.
As for being in a traditionally male-dominated field, Dunham said, “No matter where I go, even in the military, at first it was always that initial struggle because they don’t think that you can do what they can do.”
Some women, Dunham added, have said to her that they didn’t know if they would be able to lift certain things if they were a heavy-duty diesel mechanic. “The job does get heavy,” she said, adding that one must be able to lift and carry at least 75 pounds. However, there are many tools that can help, Dunham said.
“If you want to work on vehicles, I say go do it,” she said. “There’s money to be made in this industry, for sure.”
Dunham said she can only see herself being a diesel technician. “If you love working with your hands, and figuring out problems … you feel like you accomplish something — that’s like a great feeling to me,” she said.
“You get to see how happy the customers are when you give them their truck back.”