From Passion to Profession: U.S. Marine Learns Automotive Skills at MSTEP

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By Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | June 19, 2018

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. —
A 16-year-old Ritchie, with an immense passion for cars, bought a 2006 Mazda six-speed with the goal of improving the car with his own two hands. After successfully building his first car, he would buy cheap cars and work on them with skills he learned from watching YouTube.

Growing up, he didn’t want to be like his family and take his car to a shop and get fixed-He would rather do it himself.

“I enjoy cars. I like working on them and I want to do everything myself. I wasn’t going to pay hundreds of dollars to fix a simple issue I could fix myself,” said Ritchie.

He said he would always have his own project cars and realized it was something he enjoyed doing every day and would do it every day if he could. As time went on, he became involved with faster cars, and started racing. What was once a mere hobby, became a lifestyle for Ritchie, who found fixing cars to be incredibly rewarding.

“When I have to fix my car, it’s always something different” said Ritchie. “It’s always a new experience.”

For transitioning Marines like Ritchie, with a passion for cars or racing, BMW offers a 16-week Military Service Technician Education Program (MSTEP) course.

“The program teaches students about workshop safety, engines, suspension systems, and electrical systems,” said Sal Sandoval, technical instructor. “This program also provides a majority of students with a smooth transition out of the Marine Corps with a job into the automotive workforce.”

Much of the course was familiar to Ritchie, but he said the biggest thing he got out of this class was the technical aspect of the electrical components.

“All of my cars had basic electrical components, but all of these cars have more electrical components and features,” said Ritchie. “It really opened my eyes to how extensive car electricity is and what you need to do.”

After his transition out of the Marine Corps on July 18, 2018, Ritchie will start working at a BMW dealership in Louisville, Ky. on Aug. 1, 2018.

“I would recommend this program to anyone who likes cars, is looking to get out of the Marine Corps and doesn’t have a job lined up yet,” said Ritchie. “It’s a really great program for Marines that don’t know what they want to do when they get out.”

Ritchie, through the love of working with, racing and buying cars is now able to do something he loves every day because of the skills he learned through this course.

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