Cover Story: Teaming Up With Tech Schools

Training tomorrow's technicians: WyoTech is helping to fill the void.


“They tell us, ‘This is spot-on, you’re doing a good job here,’ or ‘This is a bit antiquated, you need to get rid of it,’ or ‘This is new, you need to bring this in,’” he says. “It is a never-ending battle.”

Warpness says school officials work with fleets to bring in current component systems and tools, to make sure students and instructors alike are training on the most modern technology.

“We base our curriculum around the industry need and then it’s our challenge to get that equipment and tooling in to give them what they want out of a graduate,” he says. “We supply the industry with the product, and that’s our students. If we have two customers here it’s the student and the employer, and if we don’t succeed with those two, we’re in trouble.”

WyoTech’s contract with PACCAR ensures students have modern trucks and parts with real-world problems for students to repair.

“It’s great for everybody,” Enyeart says. “They send us their worst trucks, so we’ve always got fresh trucks, every class. It (doesn’t) get any more real—those trucks are right off the road and we hold the student accountable for that work because those trucks are going right back on the road you and I drive on.”

QUALIFIED INSTRUCTION

Of course, a school is only as good as its teachers, and Enyeart is thrilled with the quality of the 17 instructors in the diesel program, who provide a 20:1 student-to-teacher ratio for the core program; around 13:1 in the advanced diesel course.

WyoTech only selects instructors who are fresh from the industry and brings in trainers throughout the year to keep them up to speed on new technologies. Any candidate for instructor must have a minimum seven years’ shop experience in the past 10 years to even be considered.

Darrell DeBoer has taught the advanced diesel course for about four years after spending the past 20 years in the industry, including a decade in the Army. He says giving students a solid foundation of basic knowledge gives them a big advantage when they get to the workplace.

“A lot of them come from areas where they didn’t have shop in high school, so we try to get them all on the same even keel and build from there, and that’s what the core program does,” he says. “Then their next program, whether it be advanced diesel or street rod or chassis (fabrication), it brings them up to the next level.”

Being able to train students for nine straight months is a huge advantage both for them and their future employer, DeBoer says.

“We produce the student most companies take one-and-a-half or two years to produce, and we’re showing them a work ethic also,” he says. “We are preparing them, full-round, for the industry. For a technician who just comes in off the street with no training, by the time he has worked on everything these graduates have, it’s two or three years. These guys can hit the ground running.”

Core diesel program instructor Chad Parsons says the best part of his job is when he gets that “phone call” from a recent grad.

“They’ve been gone three or four months and they’ve got a job and they’re doing well—they just call you up and thank you,” he says.

Parsons says WyoTech’s well-rounded approach was developed from finding out what employers are looking for.

“(They) know they are getting someone who has the ability to jump on pretty much anything,” he says. “We’re developing professionals, and that’s how we want them to present themselves when we leave here. We tell them that they’re going to leave here smarter than us, because they get our knowledge combined, and six months down the road they should be out there developing their own knowledge, which is going to put them that much farther ahead.”

HIGH DEMAND

With a stunning 99.6 percent industry placement rate within six months of graduation, the students are clearly getting a good deal, but so are the fleets who hire them. WyoTech holds career fairs every three months, and during one session last year, more than 100 employers visited campus for interviews; most from the diesel industry.

We Recommend