Wow. All good stuff! We truly represent a good cross-section here. I went from "heavy line" in dealerships to "the machine shop" when my body got older and didn't like "crawling around under cars". My specialty was always engines and manual transmissions, so it was a natural move. My education started in the mid '70s, went to college in Cal, went to AAI in PHX (good school in those days, learned a lot). That environement IS gone, but it, too, is the natural evolution. As cars get more and more complex, whether it be for emmissions and drivability or just gimmickry, one NEEDS to understand them.
I DID put a motor and trans in a '65 GTO last weekend... 505 and a Muncie! (eat your hearts out... it's a beauty and it hauls booty(!), wish it was mine)
Fortunately for me, the fundementals haven't changed, only the "controls". It all makes perfect sense, though I'm not sure I could actually "do it" today.... Leave it to you young bucks! I'll build the motors.
Good luck in what ever you decide!