South Plains College (SPC) in Levelland, Texas, recently submitted an application to have its Diesel Service Technology Equipment Program accredited by The AED Foundation. The Diesel Service Technology Program is designed to train students to service construction equipment. Specific areas of training include engine repair and overhaul; powertrain; steering repairs and alignment; fuel injection systems; hydraulic systems; auxiliary equipment such as starters, generators, alternators, switches, regulators, and other miscellaneous items; as well as troubleshooting procedures and shop management procedures.
“We are excited to finally get our application in to The AED Foundation,” stated Whitney Owens, professor and program coordinator of Diesel Service Technology. “We are facing the same workforce shortages this industry and other industries face nationwide, principally due to the mindset over the past three decades at the high school level that every kid needs to go to a four-year college. What we offer is the opportunity for a rewarding and financially viable career without the staggering debt many college students get saddled with.”
The diesel tech program started in the ’70s and had only four students in 1989. Enrollment has ebbed and flowed over the years, and the program now has more than 50 students. SPC leaders are confident that AED Foundation Accreditation will lead to even more students and will give students more options, such as in the transportation, heavy equipment and/or agriculture disciplines.
Back in late 2013 to early 2014, the SPC diesel technology program leaders became interested in AED Foundation Accreditation. In 2014, a number of the Lubbock area AED dealers pooled resources and contributed funds to enable SPC to purchase a Bobcat 130 skid steer that could be converted into a hydrostatic trainer.
Several hiccups along the way kept progress at bay until last fall; this was mostly due to state issues, including changes in allowable credit hours. Local dealers have been very supportive throughout the process. One of the strongest industry supporters has been Warren CAT. They have provided substantial funding in grants and scholarships since 2006. They also provided matching grants with CAT corporate through their Dealer Excellence program.
There was also a working three-way partnership between Warren CAT, AGCO and SPC in a bid to put in place an agricultural equipment program; however, that more or less expired when Warren dropped the agricultural line. AGCO, however, has continued to provide SPC with training materials and has donated various items to the program. Continuing in support, Warren CAT provided SPC students access to their entire service library (CAT SIS).
In addition to Warren CAT, several dealers now serve on SPC’s advisory committee. Among those are Yellowhouse Machinery, ASCO, Bee Equipment Sales, Ditch Witch, Vermeer, Cisco Equipment, B.E. Implement, and The Hydraulic Shop.
“It’s been a long road, but one that will hopefully be paved with heavy equipment serviced by students graduating from SPC’s diesel tech program,” stated Steve Johnson, vice president of AED Foundation operations. “We look forward to reviewing SPC’s application, and we commend them for their hard work and dedication to get to this milestone.”
South Plains College is a comprehensive two-year community college serving a 15-county area comprised of the southern portion of the Texas High Plains. The college’s main campus is located in Levelland. They provide innovative educational programs that span the arts and sciences, technical education, continuing education and workforce development. SPC also offers educational programs at two locations in Lubbock – the SPC Lubbock Center and the SPC Reese Center – as well as an extension center in Plainview.