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Sandy Journal

CTEC heavy-duty mechanicals and diesel program receives national accreditation

Nov 07, 2018 10:27AM ● By Jana Klopsch

AED Foundation President Brian McGuire addresses CTEC students about the advantages they have with the Associated Equipment Distributors national diesel accreditation. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

It may be a numbers game — second in the country to earn it, third in the nation to receive it, first in the state to be awarded it — but the bottom line is the same. With the new national diesel technician accreditation, Canyons Technical Education Center (CTEC) students may be better prepared when finding a career in the heavy-duty mechanicals and diesel field.

At the Oct. 3 award presentation, CTEC Principal Ken Spurlock said that with the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) accreditation, which was initially offered to high school programs last year, it is ensuring students are properly trained for the field.

“We are now teaching mechanics the way it needs to be and have what a good curriculum should look like,” he said. “We are now providing our students what is the best education and the technicians and companies in the field appreciate it.”

According to AED Foundation President Brian McGuire, this education is cutting edge.

“What it means for you students is a pathway to immediate opportunities in the career and a pathway that will pay you very well, probably more than those who a bachelor’s right out of the gate, and without college debt,” he told students at the ceremony. “You have a great opportunity to make a great living in the field and it’s not going anywhere.”

McGuire said the curriculum now fits where it’s needed in industry.

“With the AED certification, we now are having high school programs teach industry standards that are aligned with what industry needs when these students come out. At CTEC, that means the curriculum is aligned with SLCC (Salt Lake Community College) and the partnerships both schools have in the area. The standards and learning for high school students attending college is seamless. These students are already ahead of their counterparts when they finish school,” he said.

CTEC instructor Gary Snow said they added more hydraulics and air conditioning to their curriculum as well as went more in-depth to electrical and electronics, such as fuel regulators, emissions controls and timing systems. Students also learn about air brakes, steering and suspension systems and drivetrain components.

In the program, students also learn how to tear down and rebuild a large diesel engine where they will learn about 12/24 volt electrical systems, incorporate and use math into the electrical systems, and learn about voltage drop, resistance, wiring, and troubleshooting. 

With those additions to the coursework, the program was accredited last April. 

This is the fourth year CTEC students have been offered the Utah Diesel Technician Pathways, Snow said, adding that about 55 students are enrolled in the program.

SLCC instructor Bill Kleman said that much of their involvement came about with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, who has encouraged industry leaders to partner with education to replace retiring workers with diesel technicians as well as meet the needs of mechanics for the increasing use of diesel engines in transportation vehicles.

Snow said the current generation of students are well-matched with the new technology.

“When the engines became technically advanced so quickly, many technicians left so the shortage really hit them,” he said. “These kids are so technically advanced, so they’re a perfect match for the real world.”

Kleman said that through the Utah Diesel Technician Pathways, 24 diesel engines were offered, 12 to Canyons School District and 12 to Jordan School District’s technical education center, which was the second in the state to receive the national accreditation.

“Through the Pathways, we have seen the courses they’re learning work toward credits at SLCC and AED accreditation,” he said. “The classes they’re learning in high school are the equivalent to our Intro to Diesel Engines, so they’re already ahead of students entering the program without the Pathways.”

The Utah Diesel Tech Pathways offers paid internship programs and on-the-job training at SLCC, as well as at Canyons and Jordan school districts. The companies include CR England, Cummins Rocky Mountain, Geneva Rock Products, Kenworth Sales Company, Komatsu Equipment and Utah Transit Authority. 

Through the partnership, Spurlock said CTEC received not only the computerized engines from Cummins that replaced its 1970s engines and stands for the engines from CR England, but also training and internships from industry leaders and a $12,000 grant from the governor’s office to update software, computers and tools. SLCC donated a diesel engine truck that has its cab removed so students can learn about the engine.

“Industry business are providing internships and jobs so our students can learn what it is like in this field. Several of the companies also want their employees to continue learning so they give tuition reimbursements,” Spurlock said. “Many people think that (entering this field) means being a mechanic or parts person; however, many mechanics go into sales, become service reps, teach or own businesses.”

As part of the AED certification, Snow attended the instructor conference this past summer.

“It was amazing,” Snow said. “They provided info on teaching in the classroom and how best to put ideas to use. I learned how to use what I have and can show students new techniques. It’s a growing industry and it will continue to grow with technology.”

AED Foundation Associate Director of Development and Workforce Marty McCormack said the AED Certified Technician Program makes sense.

“The benefits are clear,” he said. “It focuses on students’ and technicians’ improvement and as a result, there is better retention, and it saves industry time and money on training technicians.”

He said AED plans to expand its accreditation program across the country, which will accelerate students in college programs, to help provide qualified technicians for industry.

“The partnership between Canyons Technical Education Center and SLCC will provide dealers with qualified technicians,” he said. “It is a showcase for other diesel programs around the country.”