Aspiring Heavy Equipment Technicians Learn Fundamentals During STEP

Fri June 17, 2016 - Midwest Edition #13

For aspiring heavy equipment technicians, it is crucial to learn proper fundamentals through technical instruction and hands-on experience early in the development of a career.
For aspiring heavy equipment technicians, it is crucial to learn proper fundamentals through technical instruction and hands-on experience early in the development of a career.

For aspiring heavy equipment technicians, it is crucial to learn proper fundamentals through technical instruction and hands-on experience early in the development of a career. This training is exactly what AIS Construction Equipment Training Center will provide to nine recent high school graduates from across the state of Michigan during the 2016 Summer Technician Entrance Program, also known as STEP.

The Summer Technician Entrance Program is a technical education program for students transitioning between high school, the workforce and/or college. The STEP was designed to better prepare prospective technicians for post-secondary schooling, help the students evaluate their potential and expose them to the conditions of working in an AIS facility.

AIS Training Center partnered with career and technical education programs across the state, focusing on programs that the curriculum involves heavy equipment and diesel technology. Through this effort, AIS Training Center helped local CTE's and their instructors identify possible candidates for STEP. This is the second year of the STEP program. The first year proved very successful. AIS hired the 2015 graduates.

Ron Kietzman, technical trainer and STEP mentor, said, “We are not looking at this as a job out of high school; it is the beginning of a career at AIS. I would like to stand up at the 2025 Christmas party and see these guys there.”

Interested students submitted an application, cover letter, resume, letter of recommendation and an essay. The essay needed to include something about them, what they have done to prepare themselves for the heavy equipment repair field and what they plan to do with a career in this field. Out of 31 applicants, nine were selected to take part in the nine-week training program that will be held at the Lansing branch of AIS. The group of technicians includes Jesseca Fuller of Eaton Rapids, Matthew Anderson of Lowell, Andrew Ignasiak of Kent City, Isaac Postma of Caledonia, Cody Lindblad of Zeeland, Mike Schade of Richmond, Dalton Feldpausch of Fowler and Luke Chamberlain of Fulton.

The training started on June 7 and concludes Aug. 5. Students are required to attend classroom courses and hands-on laboratory lessons taught by certified instructors. With tools provided by AIS, STEP participants will spend time working on equipment that needs varying degrees of repairs, learn to fill out work orders and look up parts using the AIS parts ordering system. They also will learn techniques for troubleshooting, restoring and operating heavy equipment of various makes and models. With today's highly sophisticated heavy equipment systems, the STEP participants will benefit greatly working on equipment from manufacturers such as John Deere, Komatsu, JCB, Case and Caterpillar.

STEP participant work orders include machine preparation, scheduled maintenances, hydraulic repairs, electrical diagnostics and repairs, engine repair and overhaul, air conditioning diagnostics and repairs, finding and repairing leaks, replacing pins and bushings in machine and just about anything that a trained technician would see. No jobs will be turned away for being too advanced.

The future technicians will be evaluated throughout the program based on both their written and hands-on activities. The Lansing branch provides on-site AIS housing in newly renovated living quarters. At the end of the program, students can be officially hired in at AIS, offered college and/or tool funding, and a pay raise based on observations and their performance over the nine-week span.

AIS Construction Equipment has been serving customers as the oldest “Michigan Owned and Operated” heavy equipment company for 55 years. This new program was created to allow young, ambitious technicians to get a first-hand sense of the numerous opportunities AIS has to offer, in all different areas of the industry. STEP graduate Josh Challender learned that while learning the fundamentals is crucial, he sees his future directed toward the sales and business side of working for AIS Construction Equipment.

“For me it's a bit different because I don't want to be a mechanic,” said Challender, “but this program taught me the fundamentals of how machines operate and that will help me tremendously to be a knowledgeable salesman.”

Challender is now a sales intern of AIS Construction Equipment. A major goal of the Summer Technician Entrance Program is to help students discover their potential and create a long-lasting career at AIS Construction Equipment.

Steve Sutton, technical trainer and STEP coordinator, said, “With the exposure to the technical training and the mentoring that they receive this summer, we hope to keep them on the fast track to become a top-notch technician. When they go onto college and they start covering things their fellow students have never seen before, it will give them the edge, and hopefully help them rise to the top.”

To apply to become a STEP participant or to find out more information on next year's program, email Steve Sutton at or call 517/321-8000.

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