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As I traveled through Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, I was struck by the positive attitudes of the hardworking people in America’s heartland. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative news emanating out of Washington, D.C., and other locales, but every time I make a trip through the region, I come back refreshed and optimistic.

I saw the smiling, eager faces of students at our AED Foundation-accredited college programs, visited many dealer members having a record or near-record year, watched in awe as farmers worked into the night to harvest crops that feed the nation, and met with new member prospects and new school prospects. The future is bright for our country, and I can’t wait to visit Montana and Wyoming, which were recently added to my territory.

AED Foundation Accreditations

As you know, one of the hallmarks of AED is our commitment to educating the next generation of diesel technicians – the lifeblood of our industry. AED Foundation accreditation signifies to equipment industry stakeholders that a college has met rigorous industry-specific national construction equipment technical standards. It further signifies to current and prospective students that an AED Foundation-accredited program provides the best in diesel-equipment technical education as defined by the industry it serves. 

To that end, we are fortunate to have many outstanding colleges in the region. In 2019 we added two more school programs to The AED Foundation portfolio. In September, Hibbing Community College on Minnesota’s storied Iron Range achieved provisional accreditation of their Diesel Mechanics and Heavy Equipment Maintenance A.A.S degree and diploma programs. Hats off to instructors John Bright and Forrest Brownlee for their diligence in making this happen.

Then in November, Montana State University-Northern in Havre achieved AED Foundation accreditation of their Diesel Technology four-year B.S. degree program. Steven Don, chair, College of Technical Sciences and associate professor, Diesel Technology, spoke to the value of The AED Foundation accreditation: “The AED Foundation has been identified as a leader in industry standards; therefore, it made perfect sense to gain this accreditation. The standards covered in the accreditation are industry standards, not some random standard that has been put in place. We also had a lot of support from our diesel advisory board members, several of whom indicated that they were more than willing to be our industry sponsor. To us, that message is clear – the industry is very familiar with The AED Foundation and places a lot of value on the accreditation.”

Perkins V Funding

AED helped lead the charge in Washington, D.C., that resulted in the passage of the Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which will modernize career and technical education (CTE) programs to address the skills gap better and educate students for in-demand jobs. The law requires each state to work closely with all stakeholders, including industry, to develop and submit detailed plans on how it intends to distribute the $1.3 billion of Department of Education funding that’s divided between states for CTE programs. Each state must submit local needs assessments and engage the local business community throughout the process, culminating this spring with the submission of that state’s comprehensive Perkins V plan to the Department of Education. The next four years of each state’s CTE funding priorities will be memorialized in its plan.

I mention this because AED members must communicate with your state CTE directors on the importance of funding diesel tech programs at community colleges and high schools. Many of you have done so, and we appreciate it. If you need contact information, please contact Marty McCormack at The AED Foundation or me.

I look forward to seeing you all on my travels this year. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I may be of assistance.

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