Four years ago, Brian Lipp took a vocational aptitude test, a 500-some questionnaire aimed to determine his perfect post-military career. Diesel mechanic was one of the jobs listed. At the time, it seemed like the most stable and, with Centralia College just down the freeway, the Olympia native signed up for classes using his veterans benefits.
In June, he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Diesel Technology. In October, he began teaching diesel tech classes at Centralia College.
“I guess it was his enthusiasm, his energy that stood out,” said Jake Conrad, one of the Diesel Tech program leaders. “He’s always had a willingness to jump in and do whatever he can to help others. He seemed like a natural teacher.”
What drew Lipp to the program initially is what draws many students to careers in Diesel Technology.
“You can start in this program from the ground up,” he explained. “Even someone like me, who came in basically just knowing how to change the oil and not much else, can come out with a career that can literally take them anywhere in the world. And, it’s actually really enjoyable. The time really flies by. There’s a lot of camaraderie in the program, and it’s just a fun place to be.”
While Lipp, a Marine Corps veteran and former corrections officer, never imagined he’d become a teacher (after all, teaching was not one of the recommended careers in his aptitude test), he’s always liked passing on his knowledge and helping others.
“I’ve always liked being a mentor,” he said. “That’s something I’ve tried to do my whole life, so teaching is an extension of that. I like thinking outside the box and solving puzzles, so this is a good fit for me.”