Automotive Insight: student-run project teaches marginalized groups about cars
The male-dominated car industry prides itself on being highly exclusive and hard to access for many people. Willamette student Kayla Stinson (‘25) recently announced the creation of Automotive Insight, a project that seeks to expand access to automotive life skills among women and minorities, in an effort to bridge the gap between marginalized communities and the car industry.
Stinson used to manage a family-owned automotive shop in their hometown of Prescott, Arizona. They explained that they once had to get an oil change at an automotive shop in Salem, which tried to make them agree to unnecessary repairs and extra costs, an unethical tactic known as ‘upselling’. “As soon as I said that I managed a shop, they flipped the script,” Stinson stated.
“I decided that if I can’t change the shops, I will change the customer base,” Stinson continued. They explained that Automotive Insight is an in-person two-day course that provides the knowledge to spot unethical business practices like the one Stinson experienced. The course also covered relevant tips on basic car systems, dash lights, car parts, how to jump a car, how to change a car’s fluids, and what to expect when taking a vehicle to get a maintenance job done, among other relevant skills. “This event is targeted at women, minorities, and people who typically don’t get the knowledge that I will be giving out. I like to think of it as stuff that your dad should have taught you, but never did,” Stinson continued.
On April 7, the first half of the event took place in Ford 102, and Stinson went over the different systems in a car and their respective functions. They also explained how to effectively care for a vehicle to make it last longer, questions to ask at automotive shops, what the different dash lights mean, and how to spot and avoid upselling and other unethical practices.
According to Stinson, Automotive Insight is expected to take place on a semesterly basis, as well as being introduced at the Pacific Northwest College of Arts in the near future. In addition, all of the materials taught will be available on Stinson’s shop website, in an effort to increase accessibility and accommodate those unable to attend the event or people who may need to revisit the material.
The second half of the event will take place on Friday, April 14 in the Kremer Board Room (Ford 102), and Stinson will go over commonly replaced car parts, making educated decisions at maintenance shops, how to jump a car, and other essential skills for drivers. As with the first half of the event, free Bistro catering will be provided, and those unable to attend in person will have the option to do so on Zoom. For accommodations or questions, Kayla Stinson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.