A student’s driving passion

A.D. Quinn

A.D. Quinn, 29, a custom cars and concepts student from Ypsilanti, uses a machine sander to create smooth edges on steel she will soon weld. Gray Bancroft | Washtenaw Voice

By MYISHA KINBERG
Staff Writer

Cars are a huge part of most Americans’ lives, but when it comes to knowing how cars actually work and how to fix them when they are broken, a lot of people have to rely on mechanics.

Aideen Quinn, known to friends as A.D., dropped out of college a long time ago because she didn’t know what she wanted to study. In 2011, Quinn came back to school at age 29, and she is now an soon-to-be Washtenaw Community College graduate with certificates in auto body, auto services, and custom cars and concepts.

When A.D. and her 27-year-old brother Desmond Quinn were young, their mom had cool cars around that she worked on frequently, A.D. said.

The Quinn siblings used to work alongside their mom on a 1950s Chevy, Desmond said. Both of their parents worked as pipe cleaners in factories and did welding throughout their lives.

A.D. Quinn welding a piece

A.D. Quinn, a 29-year-old custom cars and concepts student from Ypsilanti, cuts steel to length for a chair she is fabricating for an upcoming charity auction. Gray Bancroft | Washtenaw Voice

A.D. worked for a comic book company traveling around the country to different comic book conventions selling T-shirts for a number of years before coming back to school in 2011. She also lived in Kansas City, Missouri and Portland, Oregon for a number of years. She was accepted to Portland State University, she said, but didn’t enjoy being out on the west coast or living out of a backpack, so she came home to go back to school.

Desmond started out at WCC and then went on to graduate from Eastern in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science with a major in biology.

“A.D. and I were both going to WCC when she came back and even though our fields were so different we really supported each other a lot,” Desmond said.

Currently, A.D. works as a tech in the auto department at WCC and is one of a handful of women in the program. In just a few weeks she will be heading out to California to do a summer internship with Toyota Research. The internship is scheduled to end in August and when A.D. returns she will only have one class left before graduating in the fall of 2015. After graduation, A.D. said she doesn’t have a set plan, but her dream job is fabricating on older versions of custom cars.

During her time at WCC, A.D. worked extensively with Timothy VanShoick and Gary Sobbry. Sobbry, an auto services instructor at WCC, started out as a full-time instructor in 2000. In his years at the school, Sobbry has seen a lot of people find their passion in cars through the automotive program.

A.D. Quinn using measuring tape

A.D. Quinn, 29, a custom cars and concepts student of Ypsilanti, makes precise measurements before welding a project. Gray Bancroft | Washtenaw Voice

“A lot of my students don’t know what they want to do or study when they come to WCC. A.D. was one of those students,” Sobbry said. “She didn’t always have it easy, but now she has great opportunities, like the internship being offered to her.”

Despite working on that Chevy with her mom, when A.D. joined the program she had never seen a tire off a car, she said. Now she feels like she knows what she is doing.

“When you start this program they expect you to know nothing and they start out with the basics. The more time you are willing to put in, the more time the instructors will work with you,” A.D. said.

A.D.’s experience at WCC has been great, she said, and she’s accomplished so many of her personal goals in her time being here.

“With this program as much as you want to learn, you can learn,” A.D. said.

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