The Star-Herald

Houlton instructor enjoys automotive field

PRESQUE ISLE and HOULTON, Maine — Ammie London is a 1993 Northern Maine Community College graduate. She started her studies in the automotive technology program but, by the end of her first year decided to double major in auto collision repair.  With her interest in how things worked and were put together, working on cars was a good fit, and she quickly found she had some natural skills in this area.  

She found a second passion with auto body and paint. She was fascinated with the colors and history of these cars.  Each car would tell a story of the decade in which it was manufactured. The color of cars in each decade reflected the styles common to that era.

She described a job she took on where she was given free artistic rein to rebuild a Mustang.  It was not a matter of picking a cool or popular color for a car but more of what the car’s history was about and how the color chosen would complement the interior or what pin striping would tie each detail together.  Everything on the car had to flow together in order to accent the beauty of the car and tell the car’s story.

Soon after graduation, London and her husband started a body shop in Blaine.  She worked in the shop with her husband and also took jobs outside of the family business. In 1999, she accepted the position of auto body instructor at Region Two School of Applied Technology in Houlton.  She then continued her education with the completion of a bachelor’s degree in applied technology from the University of Southern Maine and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Maine in Orono.  

At the time she began teaching high school students, she was the only female auto body instructor east of the Mississippi.  

For NMCC’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2011, one graduate from each of the previous 50 classes received recognition for outstanding contributions.  London was chosen for her contributions to the auto collision industry and for her role as an auto body instructor.

This past year, London desired a change but wanted to stay connected to the school.  When the opportunity arose, she transitioned from an instructor to the position of facilities manager for Region Two. She is now responsible for the maintenance and overall management of the school building, vehicles and equipment.

Working in a male dominated industry hasn’t always been easy. London has worked hard and persevered to gain the respect and credibility of some of her peers.  As an instructor, she said she feels confident of the trade community’s perception of her, though she feels to a small extent she’s had to prove herself as a facilities manager. She reported gaining credibility with contractors and vendors, and is viewed on her skills, knowledge, and job performance.

“Don’t let stereotype stop you,” she said, and also advised women considering entering trades to pursue the career for the love of it and not to make a statement.  A career should be based on interest and abilities and not on gender.  

She also urged students to think of the future and always have a plan to fall back on, which is why she continued to pursue an education.  It is also important to think of career advancement. Preparation for the possibility of advancement is an advantage when the windows of opportunity open, she said.

London’s career has satisfied her desire to learn, experience new things, provide opportunities for growth and advancement, along with providing herself and her family with a satisfying quality of life.

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