Diesel mechanic Julia Pereira admits she’s a rarity in the field. When the rig drivers come into the garage to have their trucks fixed, and find 25-year-old Pereira standing there, a look of shock comes over their face. “The guys don’t expect woman to be diesel service technicians, said Pereira, who said the engines are heavy, and the work is greasy and oily. “But you work around it.”
Pereira is the only female in the Ryder garage where she operates with a team of mechanics who maintain a fleet of trucks, including box trucks, tractor trailers, and city vans. Much of her time is spent doing preventative maintenance, inspecting brake systems and steering mechanisms, checking fluids, inspecting tires, and repairing parts. Diesel-powered engines, which are more efficient than their gas-burning counterparts, are becoming increasingly complex, with electronic components and microprocessors controlling engine operation. Whether it’s working on emissions or electrical wiring, Pereira says that the systems are not difficult once broken down. “Diesel technology can seem overwhelming, but they’re really not complicated if you take the time to understand it,” said Pereira, who attended Universal Technical Institute in Norwood after finishing community college. Employment of diesel service technicians like Pereira is expected to grow by six percent to 2018, since the durable and fuel efficient diesel engine is used for heavy-duty trucks, buses, and other large vehicles, as well as an increasing number of cars and light trucks.
Pereira started fiddling around with dirt bikes and quads at a young age when she went riding up in Maine with her brother. “I liked figuring out how things go together, and if something broke, I’d try to fix it, and not just engines, but anything, whether it’s a vacuum cleaner or lawn mower.” When she decided to become a mechanic, she said her parents thought she was crazy – but changed their minds when they saw how well she did in her classes.
Q: Beside diesel, you have training in Ford vehicles – why did you choose this particular specialty?
A: I always see Ford vehicles on the road – it’s an All American vehicle, and I like the way they look. I have 12 certificates through Ford, including learning how the computer systems work, so if I wanted to go to a dealership, I have that training. I have a Ford truck, so I can do my own maintenance as well; it’s cheaper that way.
Q: What’s it like working in a garage all the time?
A: It’s hot in the summer, since there’s no AC and very cold in the winter. As a girl, I still do the makeup and put the hair up but it’s hard to keep the nails clean.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I’d like to run my own repair shop some day. I don’t see myself being a technician forever.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: It might seem the opposite extreme, but I’m really into fashion and design. It’s something on the side that lets me be more of a girly girl. As a hobby, I sketch bridal and evening gowns.
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