Caterpillar Selects S.D. Tech School for Training Program

Sat January 03, 2009 - Midwest Edition

WATERTOWN, S.D. (AP) Caterpillar Inc. of Peoria, Ill., has selected Lake Area Technical Institute at Watertown for a special program to train students on analysis, maintenance and repairs of Caterpillar heavy equipment.

The ThinkBIG technician training program is a partnership with Butler Machinery Co. of Fargo, N.D.; Butler is the Caterpillar dealer for the Dakotas and has 11 stores in the two states.

Officials say the classes will provide students with a well-rounded knowledge of Caterpillar equipment and its highly technical systems.

The two-year associate’s degree program at Watertown begins next fall and includes paid internships at Butler Machinery Co. stores.

The Caterpillar ThinkBIG program already is offered at 19 other technical schools and community colleges; 12 in the United States, and the rest in Canada, China, England, Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Ecuador.

Butler Machinery will recruit students for the course at the Watertown technical school, said company official Dan Butler.

“Butler Machinery has been extremely pleased with the graduates that Lake Area Tech delivers to our industry,’’ he said. “It’s only a natural progression that Lake Area Tech become the next site for ThinkBIG.’’

Lake Area Tech President Deb Shephard said the school, students and industry will benefit from the program.

“It is a credit to our reputation in the diesel industry to be given the task of teaching these specialized technicians,’’ she said.

“ThinkBIG develops high-caliber service technicians for Caterpillar dealers. Studies indicate that graduates from this program are performing at a level equivalent to what has taken 6 to 7 years to accomplish in general programs in the past.’’