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Auto Instructor Ethan Cline's Path to Success for UTI Long Beach Students

"Knowing that they’re learning something from me. I’m able to give them something that they can go out and use to be successful, I really dig that - I wish someone could have taught me that before I decided to go to school."


Ethan Cline, an instructor at UTI Long Beach as well as a UTI graduate, is a true gearhead. The living space he shares with his wife is one part shop and one part residence. What was once an industrial unit is now a living and working space where a love for cars and motorcycles runs through it all. Some spouses would be less than pleased with this living situation, but his wife is as obsessed with engines and building things as Ethan is.

“The first time I met her she showed up with a 55’ Studebaker, in coveralls, and covered in grease from head to toe. I knew I was in love with her from that very second.”

For Ethan and his wife, cars are more than a hobby or something to tinker around with on the weekend. They are at the center of their lives.

Mechanics have a natural curiosity. They're fascinated by how things work. And when they don't work correctly, figuring out a solution and overcoming challenges fills them with satisfaction. Ethan’s interest in learning how things were put together started at an early age.

“This passion goes back to as far as I can remember, my parents would buy me toys and I would take them apart to see how they worked. I loved Legos - you could build your own toys without worrying about someone else’s imagination.”

Along with the right tools, any good mechanic needs to have patience and determination to help get a job done right. Many mechanics have had those projects that never quite get done or are abandoned entirely. For Ethan, he held onto a 1957 Ford 300 that he got from a coworker. It sat in various states of disrepair for fifteen years, with Ethan moving it from one space to the next. But he wasn't about to give up on it, knowing someday he would get it up and running again.

That moment of inspiration to get back to working on this car came after attending the Lone Star Round Up in Austin, Texas. It’s an annual event full of hot rods and other unique antique autos. He knew that he had to come back the following year with a car of his own to show off. He returned home energized to take on his neglected project. He bought the parts he needed, swapped out the engine and rebuilt the suspension. And once it was completed, he took that 1957 Ford on a mere twelve mile test ride before taking on the 1500 mile trek to Austin for the show. He made it there and back without any problems. He followed through on the promise he had made to himself.

For those who have never turned a wrench in their lives, this may seem like a crazy undertaking. But the brains of mechanics work a bit differently. There's the thrill of getting away with something that should be impossible and the push and pull between success and the very real chance of something going wrong. But when things do go wrong, that’s just another challenge that needs to be overcome.

There’s no disconnect between Ethan’s life off campus and his life as an instructor at UTI Long Beach. His love of cars is a part of him in every way. They still excite him. And it’s this enthusiasm that makes him seem more like a peer on campus. He shares the same love that his students do. But it’s his experience and expertise that puts him the position to make him an effective instructor.  He knows the challenges he has had in his career and problems he’s overcome in the shop. He enjoys helping students and seeing the process of them figuring things out.

“I like watching people going from nervous and apprehensive about learning something new to going through one day of class of engine building and they’re ready to go and build engines. They’re not scared anymore, I like seeing that overcoming of fear."

For many people like Ethan, the trajectory to where he is today wasn't without its twists and turns. He worked at the Long Beach Airport, tire retailers, independent shops, and came in to finish up work on other people's projects. But he was always around machines and learned more about them at every job he had. He eventually found his direction. Now as an instructor he helps his students find their own.

“Knowing that they’re learning something from me. I’m able to give them something that they can go out and use to be successful, I really dig that - I wish someone could have taught me that before I decided to go to school.”

Ethan was there with a hard hat when UTI Long Beach was being built, and he taught one of the first classes. He likes to be a part of the creation process. Whether he’s assembling parts of a car, or bringing concepts together in the classroom, he loves when everything falls into place. And he loves the diversity of people that auto industry brings together.

“The automotive industry isn’t a boy’s club, it’s an everybody’s club. At UTI it’s so diverse, we have people from all over the world, of different nationalities, sitting shoulder to shoulder without any problems, why can’t the rest of the world do that?”

The love of cars transcends borders, gender, and age. For those who share this same passion, UTI is a place to be with the people who are just like you.


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