By Audra Distifeno for TCAJOB
Freightliner Trucks of Portland, Ore. donated a 2010 Freightliner worth approximately $60,000 to Tri-Tech Skills Center in September to help students in the school’s Diesel Tech Program.
“This is a huge leap forward for the program,” said Lin Grant, Diesel Tech instructor. “Technologies like the emissions system could only be talked about before, but now students will be able to directly interact with these advanced systems.”
With 900 junior and senior high school students converging on Tri-Tech daily to learn hands-on skills in 18 different programs, donations of new technology are very much appreciated.
“(This truck donation) is great because Tri-Tech connecting with and making partnerships with industry is critical for us to offer the latest technology for students to learn on,” said Tri-Tech Director Gerry Ringwood. “And it’s really nice because we didn’t see this one coming.”
The process began six months ago after Freightliner representatives contacted Ringwood. The worldwide company, which is a subsidiary of the Daimler Corporation, had identified Tri-Tech’s program as “one of the best in the state,” said Ringwood.
“Our teacher, Mr. Grant, trains kids to compete in Skills USA. We usually place first or second in the state year in and year out,” said Ringwood.
Last year, seven out of the 10 Diesel Tech students who competed at state advanced to nationals, he added.
Tri-Tech’s instructors are professionals who have years of experience in the fields that parallel the programs in which they teach. They share knowledge and skills that are irreplaceable in today’s workplace.
Freightliner donated trucks to two other skills centers, both along the I-5 corridor, in the past several years.
“This truck raises the bar,” said Ringwood. “It gives our students equipment they’d never, ever get to see otherwise. We never would’ve been able to purchase a truck of this caliber.”
The 25 first- and second-year students currently in the Diesel Tech Program will certainly benefit from having trained on it.
“We can tie into the computer system to study engine diagnostics, monitoring fuel economy, horsepower and more,” said Ringwood.
The electrical system will be studied, alternator overhaul learned and much more as part of the Diesel Truck Program.
The 2010 M2 Business Class test truck served as a prototype test platform for new technologies over the past two years at Waste Management of Portland. It is valued at $60,000 now — $100,000 when it was new. It will be used solely for mechanical training – fixing and maintaining — not driving.
The truck joins a couple of older diesel trucks and a series of large diesel engines on stands used for hands-on, experiential training.
Jim’s Specific Garage donated a newer truck to the program two years ago in order that students had a later-model truck to train on.
“The program isn’t just trucks or the on-the-road industry though; it’s also for the agriculture industry,” said Ringwood.
Area farm implement dealers have also provided equipment for students to work on.
Tri-Tech’s programs are designed with the focus on local, state and national skills standards. It partners with 20 area high schools to offer advanced technical and professional training in several programs – from culinary arts to diesel mechanics.
The Skills Center strives to provide positive experiences, sequential and competency-based learning, leadership development, teacher guidance, business/industry coordination, job readiness and placement, as well as preparation to continue at a post-secondary institution.
Even if students who attend Tri-Tech don’t go directly into the industry in which they’ve received training, they’ve learned multiple workplace skills – communication, teamwork, problem solving, and punctuality.
“We really appreciate the community’s help to train students so they’ll be competitive in the workplace,” said Ringwood. “Thank you, Freightliner Trucks, for your generous donation to Tri-Tech and the future diesel technicians it will help train.”
Those interested in assisting, making donations or learning about its programs may contact Tri-Tech at 222-7300.