When most people think of Diesel Technology, they think of trucks hauling cargo around the country.
But there are numerous other opportunities available, and thanks to a donation from Apac-Kansas Inc., Salina Area Technical College students will get their hands on an entirely different piece of equipment.
Friday morning, Apac-Kansas dropped off a 2003 RoadTec asphalt paver, valued at an estimated $20,000, that the company no longer had a use for. The company also treated the students and faculty to a BBQ lunch.
Mike Warren, Equipment Manager for Apac-Kansas in Salina and Area Manager Jason Heis said the company wanted to donate the paver so Salina Tech students can become familiar with its systems and see there are many more opportunities for Diesel technicians than working on trucks or agricultural equipment.
Warren is on the advisory board for the Salina Tech’s Diesel Tech program, and Heis is on the advisory board for the Commercial Truck Driving program.
“We’re excited about getting young people into these careers,” Warren said, explaining that the company goes to job fairs around the state on a regular basis trying to find skilled employees. “We’re reaching out to high school kids, and showing them there are other career paths besides going through four years of college.”
Warren told students that Apac’s parent company, called Oldcastle, has 18,000 employees spread across 48 states, and is involved in paving, mining, construction, architectural glass and many other fields.
“Once you’re working for us, you can transfer anywhere in the country,” Warren told the students. “If your girlfriend wants to move back East, you can go with her and have a good job waiting for you. I started out as a Diesel technician with the company myself, after going to a tech school in Oklahoma, and I’ve moved up in the company over the years.”
As Diesel Technology instructors Mac Loucks, Gabe Winger and Mike Parker climbed onto the paver and began opening covers for a closer look, they began talking about how they could put it to use. The paver has two seats on top, and lots of hydraulic equipment, including a hydraulic generator to supply 110-volt current for operating electric tools, additional lights or other equipment.
“I could disable this thing in five seconds and tell the students to figure out what’s wrong,” Loucks said with a smile.
Scott Cunningham, Human Resources Manager with Apac in Hutchinson, said building partnerships with technical colleges like Salina Tech is important because it encourages students to consider coming to work at the company.
“Gone are the days when people beat your door down to work for you, and stayed until they died,” Cunningham said. “We’ve got to do what we can to attract people.”
Salina Tech’s Diesel Technology program offers students a two-year program leading to an Associate of Applied Science degree. High school students enrolling in the program at the start of their junior year can return to Salina Tech and complete the remaining requirements for the degree in one year after graduation. Tuition for high school students is free.
Salina Tech was founded in 1965, and now has 15 full-time programs in which students can pursue either a Technical Certificate or an Associate of Applied Science degree. It also offers numerous short-term classes throughout the year. The New York-based Aspen Institute has ranked Salina Tech in the top 10 percent of community colleges nationwide four consecutive times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked the college ninth in the nation among two-year colleges based on its graduation rate.
Story by Mike Strand / Salina Area Technical College