Scottsbluff High School’s Diesel Technology program began as a pilot program a year ago and is seeing growth in its second semester.
Cheyanne Marcy, community partner coordinator at Aulick Industries, told the Star-Herald that the program coordinates local diesel industry companies that work together to provide training opportunities for a combined 20 SHS students. The six companies, which generally compete with each other but partner for the SHS program, are: Aulick Industries, 21st Century Equipment, Floyd’s Truck Center, Inland Truck Parts Company, Murphy Tractor and Equipment Co., and Nebraska Machinery Company.
SHS director Justin Shaddick said the program was launched when several business and industry partners expressed concern over local labor shortages in the diesel technology industry.
“As an educational institution that prides itself on our relationships with the community and seeks to provide opportunities for students, we began to discuss how we could design a program to increase student interest and skills to to create a steady stream of students entering the diesel technology job market,” he mentioned.
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The program has evolved into sessions facilitated by representatives of the community partners and culminates in roundtable interviews. Students receive a tour of the collaborating company before beginning their apprenticeship at the Derek Deaver Diesel Shop or the Triple D Shop at Aulick Industries.
“This is a space donated by Aulick Industries in recognition of Mr. Deaver…for his efforts as a loyal SHS teacher to bring back career paths in the skilled trades,” Marcy said.
Marcy explained that the students started the semester learning the importance of in-store safety with Trevor Neumann of 21st Century Equipment and moved on to building wet kits with James Miller and Rory Schanaman of Aulick Industries. Tony Brown with Murphy Tractor explained the concept of hydraulic pumps and diesel engine components. Students are currently learning basic electrical systems led by Travis Hedman of Inland Truck Parts. The final session will involve precision tractor and implement diagnostics with PTO activation led by 21st Century’s James Hintergardt.
“We go through an interview process at the end of the year to kind of prepare the kids for what it’s going to be like to go through an actual interview process,” Neumann said.
Bob Sorok of Nebraska Machinery Company said the interview was in the form of a panel discussion with representatives from each business partner in the diesel technology program.
“I was completely blown away by the success of some of these students,” he said. “I mean, they were sharp with their CVs, they asked me questions and I asked them questions which they answered correctly. They were very well prepared and it was a really neat thing to see.
The Building Blocks program has set up internships at partner companies for students to deepen their knowledge. Both Neumann and Sorok said they were impressed with the dedication and work ethic of interns at their respective companies. 21st Century and Nebraska Machinery Company have sponsorships available for students in their technical education programs. The SHS program is a transition allowing participating students to earn sponsorships from the six business partners or transition to the diesel technology program offered at WNCC with the goal of building the workforce in the Panhandle community.
SHS juniors working on basic electrical systems in the Triple D workshop on Friday afternoon agreed that the best part of the program was the lack of manuals, the hands-on aspect of learning.
Kaden Carlson said the program offers “incredible opportunities for our future in these businesses. You can get a job right out of high school with (partner companies) doing things like that.
Christian Fees said deciding what he liked the most was a tough one.
“Everything is convenient, no manuals…I’m really looking forward to next year.”
Grace Hurd said she was looking forward to the technology part of 21st Century Equipment which will end the practical part of the semester.
“With 21st Century John Deere as well as NMC Cat, it’s not just about turning keys and getting fat and oily,” Neumann said. “There is a lot of computer work. What we are doing now technologically is amazing.
Neumann and Sorok described the work done by Aulick Industries to champion the program and donate their space and time as absolutely incredible.
“I am extremely grateful to our business partners who have taken on roles in providing instruction, equipment and facilities for our students to gain real-world experience that correlates with high-paying, high-demand occupations. “said Shaddick. “This has provided an incredible opportunity for our students and, in turn, I hope it will produce a productive workforce that will benefit our community and our employers.”
Nicole Heldt is a reporter for the Star-Herald and covers agriculture. She can be reached at 308-632-9044 or by email at [email protected]