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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

New teacher steers automotive department into new direction

Brian Kelly
The latest addition to the Automotive teaching staff at City College, Brittanye Muschamp stands in the newly renovated engine lab Friday, Feb. 28 at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The smell of grease and cleaning products mixed with the soothing sounds of Bob Marley echoing across the newly renovated engine lab as Brittanye Muschamp moves between the students hard at work in the garage.

Muschamp is the newest instructor in City College’s automotive services and technology department and the department’s only woman instructor.

It was quiet as students tinkered with micrometers, instruments made for measuring cylinder bore and crankshaft journals. 

“This is precision work, it’s not the fun stuff,” Muschamp said.

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At just over 5 feet, she’s not the biggest presence in the room, but her warm demeanor and eagerness to help her students have made her a powerful force in the automotive department.

Women are often thought of as an unusual sight around automotive repair shops. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women account for only 9.9% of those employed in the automotive repair industry. 

Being female in a male-dominated industry can also come with its own unique set of problems. 

“People assume you don’t know what you’re doing because you’re a female,” Muschamp said.

She’s working to change that perception one student at a time.

“It’s really intimidating when you walk into class and you’re the only female in the room,” said Anna Grace Butler, 17, a dual-enrollment student enrolled in the automotive program.

Butler says Muschamp is “super understanding” and knows what it’s like to be the only woman in a male-dominated industry.

After completing the automotive program at Ventura College, Muschamp went to work for various dealerships, holding positions such as service advisor and mechanic. 

Though Muschamp completed the necessary education needed to enter the workforce, she has never lost the motivation to continue learning and likely never will. 

Knowledge is powerful and is something that cannot be taken away from you,” she said. “I believe it is the best investment that a person can make.” 

Muschamp is no stranger to the automotive world. She grew up just as her brother and sister did — working in the family auto shop in Ventura.

“It wasn’t something that was expected of me,” Muschamp said regarding her parents’ influence on her career choice.

She was free to choose her own path, but kept her options open as she followed the past of least resistance.

Muschamp also considered careers in the culinary world or as a lawyer before taking a chance and applying with City College. One of her instructors in Ventura encouraged her to apply for the position, thinking she would make an excellent teacher.

“I didn’t think I was going to get the job,” Muschamp said. “I was accepted to law school and I had a stack of books at my desk. I was going to law school.”

It was then that Muschamp was officially offered the position at City College. She wasn’t looking for a career in education at the time but now says that she’s found what she loves to do.

Muschamp is focused on fostering relationships with people and loves seeing the connections students make, both with her and with each other. 

In addition to providing a fun and relaxed environment, Muschamp also emphasizes to students the need for holding themselves to high standards. 

“If you leave a bolt loose, that could mean someone’s life,” she said, noting that when the vehicle leaves the shop, it could potentially be a 3,000-pound lethal weapon.

The automotive program is working to rethink some of itsIn classroom curriculum and add a certificate program to focus on providing a good customer service experience, an area Mushcamp feels is lacking in much of the industry.

“There is a lot of distrust in the automotive industry and we need to change that,” Muschamp said.

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