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From SLO, iFixit’s education director shares knowledge with the world

Brittany McCrigler is director of education services at iFixit.
Brittany McCrigler is director of education services at iFixit. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Brittany McCrigler has many talents at iFixit, a private San Luis Obispo company that sells repair parts and publishes free online repair guides for electronic devices.

As director of education services, McCrigler runs the company’s education programs, overseeing the firm’s K-12 outreach and supervising iFixit’s university technical writing project that serves about 55 universities worldwide.

As part of the program, university students attend classes virtually, learn how to do a tough technical repair, and then write a service manual, which is then posted on iFixit.com. Since the project launched in 2009, more than 28 million people have used the student content, she said.

It’s evident now that iFixit is where McCrigler wants to be, but the path there wasn’t immediately clear.

McCrigler, a Cal Poly graduate, studied physics at the university and worked in solar physics for four years at a

Los Angeles firm before returning to the Central Coast to take a break and try something new.

She enrolled in massage therapy school, and then took a job as a technical writer at iFixit. McCrigler recognized earlier in her career that she wanted to hone her technical writing skills, and when iFixit co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens hired her full-time, she embraced her technical writing education role.

It’s about being open to letting kids do things and not letting them feel boxed in.

Brittany McCrigler, iFixit’s director of education services

“I feel like I tripped into it almost,” she said, joking.

While McCrigler says that more women are choosing careers in technology-related fields, the percentage of women in the hard sciences and engineering is still less than it should be.

She attributes some of girls’ reluctance to pursue technology careers to people telling kids, both girls and boys, “what they’re good at” too early.

“By the third or fourth grade, they have already decided they are not good at science or math,” she said. “They’re still too young to know that. It’s the same with young university students. It’s about being open to letting kids do things and not letting them feel boxed in.”

Many students also don’t have a clear idea of what it means to be in a technical field, she added. “Once you show them what it really is and they have an interest, then it’s about providing

support.”

The most important thing to remember, McCrigler said, is to trust your own instincts.

“Choose a path that helps you be happy and work really hard at it,” she said.

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