As the technology incorporated into heavy equipment increases, so does the need for technicians who can maintain, service, diagnose and repair it. Traditional methods of instruction must also change to enable students who have chosen this career path.
Typically, students attend two full semesters of classes at a community or technical college, work during the summer and then attend two more semesters of classes before graduation. The result is that often they are not able to apply what they have learned, in a realistic way, until they graduate. Occasionally the summer work experience is an internship but seldom is there any structured application of knowledge previously learned — hence retention of the information is limited.
The Advisory Committee of the State Technical College of Missouri’s Heavy Equipment Technology General Option Program set out to change this. The committee determined that the best way for students to learn and retain technical information was to apply it as soon as possible following completion of the class. Doing that required more frequent internships where students could apply in the real world what they had just learned in a very controlled classroom and lab environment.
Consequently, it’s agreed to provide just that to students who applied and were admitted into the program. Further, it agreed to pay students for the work performed during the internships and provide a mentor at the location to help them apply and expand their knowledge.
More than 12 companies with more than 50 locations will begin providing students these opportunities beginning in the fall of 2015 and are currently selecting admitted students from their areas of operation to interview. Upon selection, virtually all of the students will be given the opportunity to work for the company over the summer before school begins to see if both the company and the student have made the right decision.
In the end, the understanding is that the companies will assist the college by helping to grow their own future technician workforce. They will be actively involved in curriculum modification and will provide equipment, training aids, service information and special diagnostic tools on a rotating basis.
The result is technicians who are fundamentally productive and efficient and familiar with the company’s products, procedures and philosophies.
For more information, contact Ed Frederick, HET department chair at [email protected] or Doug Mehner, HET advisory committee chairman at [email protected]
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