“I took it because I wanted to see what the guys were taking, and let me tell you, it was a very difficult assessment,” he said. “To do well, you had to have a very broad background.”
Indeed, it was Kerns’ broad background that helped him ace the exam.
Right out of high school, Kerns dove straight into auto mechanics. From there, he attended the Diesel Institute of America and followed that up with a career move to the foundation drilling industry. He’s also worked as a shop foreman, building a shop from the ground up, including all the hiring.
He’s been at ECA for three years now at the Upper Marlboro, Maryland, branch as a technician working on Klemm foundation drills at his branch, but he’s poised to take on a new role in the coming months as a trainer for the Klemm product line – and he’ll be the only Klemm trainer in the United States.
There at the branch, Kerns’ day is busy.
“There are usually two or three drills in different modes of repair or prepping to go out on rent – we rent as well as sell – and we may have a new drill off the ship from Germany that has to be commissioned, so I do the commissioning on new drills.
“Some need repair coming back from job sites; we do maintenance and repairs on those, determine what parts they need, make whatever modifications are needed for each job, whatever accessories they need,” Kerns said. “We also take trouble calls from the field – when people are out using the rigs, I take a lot of calls from the field to troubleshoot issues.”
In addition to his concerns about finishing the exam in the allotted time, Kerns said he was a little worried about the scope of the questions.
“A lot of it I don’t use every day – air conditioning and such – and one reason I did as well as I did was I had remembered what I learned in diesel school,” he said.
The assessment did tax his memory and made him recall details that aren’t part of his daily work. “It was tough,” he said. “It really got your wheels turning. I told Dave (Schell) after I took it, in this industry, a lot of people came in with no formal training who were shown how to do what we do, and didn’t take a course, and those guys would have a hard time with this test, never having worked on a rear differential.”
Technicians at ECA have been open to the opportunity to take the assessment, Schell said. “For the most part, everybody welcomes it,” he said. “Good, bad or indifferent, with your results, you either get the stature of doing really well, or it allows us to grow. The results aren’t the important part: It’s what you do with it to make you better.”
Kerns agreed. “It gives you an idea when assessing a technician what they know and don’t know, so you know how to gear the training down the road.”
The assessment actually inspired ECA to create its own exam, more tailored to its own needs, Schell said. “There are a lot of things (on the assessment) that aren’t in our world, so we designed an exam specific to the German schematics we work with. It’s a written exam, not as high-tech as The AED Foundation assessment. And as a part of that, we’re also building out a training module for our technicians, and that was the driver for it.”
When not fixing, troubleshooting or training at work, Kerns, of course, can be found at the drum set or on his Harley Davidson out in the mountains where he lives with his wife, Trumania.
About The AED Foundation Technical Assessments
Assessment questions were created by a task force of 24 equipment technical experts broadly representing AED dealers, equipment manufacturers and technical colleges with equipment programs.
The assessment is aligned with AED National Construction Equipment Technical Standards that are now in their seventh edition. The standards have been developed and updated by task forces with representatives from dealers, equipment manufacturers and technical colleges.
One hundred and sixty questions evaluate a technician’s knowledge in the areas of diesel engines, powertrains, electric/electronics, A/C and heating, hydraulics/hydrostatics, and safety/administration. These are the six key subject areas in AED’s national technical standards.
Assessment questions will be updated each time AED’s national technical standards are updated.
After completing the two-hour timed assessment, each test-taker receives a “percent-correct” score for each subject area as well as an overall score.