By Clifford Black

This April, The AED Foundation conferred “recognized” status to the Diesel & Heavy Equipment Program at Kent Career Tech Center, making it the first recognized high school program in the state of Michigan. The recognition of Kent’s program will go a long way toward increasing students’ educational base as well as attracting new demographics to the profession. 

During the recognition ceremony, Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s governor, said, 

“The AED Foundation recognition of a high school diesel program is considered the ‘gold standard’ in the equipment distribution industry and will provide our students with a pathway to a successful career.”

To get a better idea of what the program means to the students, CED spoke with three students from the spring 2019 recognized program, Oliva, Esme and Arianna, who learned about operations, electrical, hydraulics and engines.

Q: How did you learn about the Diesel Technology Program at Kent Career Tech Center?

“From my stepbrother who came here. I like working on cars, so I checked it out and fell in love. It has a family environment and hands-on work, which I love. I like big engines. I grew up working on small engines with my dad and wanted something new.”
– Arianna 

“Heard about the program from friends – all boys.” – Olivia

“I have a mentor who helps me with life and school. I heard about the program from her. She said I should try it because I’ve worked on cars since I was very little.” – Esme
Q: How does the education prepare you for your career in the field?

“I want to own my own shop and I need to be able to work alongside my future employees. They need to know that I know my stuff so I can have their trust.” 
– Esme

Q:What would you tell a potential female student who is considering a career in diesel technology?

“Go for it! No matter what anyone says. We need more women in the field.” 
– Olivia

“Gender doesn’t matter here. It’s all about the work. You need determination, because it will be hard. If you love it, you’ll do well and have kinship in the shop.” – Esme
Q: What are your goals for after you graduate this program?

“I want to have my own diesel business. I want to leave a legacy to pass down to my future children.”
– Esme

Q: What do you find exciting about the career path you have chosen?

“I like playing with big toys! The bigger the better. It’s hard work but I like it. I have to prove myself to the guys, but it’s all worth it.” – Arianna 

“It feels like home – the smells and sounds. I belong here and can stay in this career. I enjoy getting dirty.”
– Esme

Q: How will you incorporate the tools, education and experience you have obtained at Kent Career Tech Center and apply them to your career?

“What we learn here is what I’ll do in college – it puts me ahead of everyone else there.” – Arianna

“I’m a native Spanish speaker and have had some language barriers. I learned everything in Spanish and had to relearn all of the tools and parts in English! It will be very valuable for me to be bilingual in the shop.” – Esme

If you would like more information or are interested in starting a new AED Foundation-recognized  equipment and diesel technology program near you, contact Steve Johnson, The AED Foundation’s Vice President of Academic Accreditation. He can be reached at or 630-468-5134.

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