All along the 2,300 mile stretch of the Mississippi River, from the headwaters to the gulf, businesses in transportation-related industries are poised to hire people for high-wage, high-skill occupations. Meanwhile, there are many job seekers who lack the training and skills they need to fill these positions.
Last spring, a consortium of 9 colleges along the river applied together for federal funding to address this critical issue in our region. Working closely with the consortium, which was led by Lewis and Clark Community College of St. Louis, Southeast Technical submitted a successful grant proposal to establish and deliver a Diesel Maintenance Technician diploma program.
The award totals more than $1.76 million, which will be distributed to the College over the next four years. The College will invest the federal funding towards new equipment, infrastructure, curriculum development, academic support services and additional faculty to launch the Diesel Maintenance program.
"We're excited to add a new program of study to be housed in our new state-of-the-art transportation facility," says Ron Sellnau, Vice President of Academic Affairs. "Along with Truck Driving, Auto Body Collision Technology and Automotive Technology, we will be able to offer our students training in the critical area of diesel engine maintenance. It's a natural expansion for the College."
How soon will the program begin?
Bob Leifeld, Dean of Trade and Technology, is eager to get the program up and running. "Ideally, we'll start up in the summer of 2014 with up to18 students," he says, adding, "We plan to schedule afternoon/evening classes to attract working adults, and we'll be able to offer credit for prior learning for students who have previous experience in the field, such as those with a background in military transportation."
Students will start with one semester of automotive undercar specialist certification, followed by two semesters of diesel mechanics, focusing on repair and maintenance of commercial trucks.
"This is a positive move for Southeast Technical. It will be great for the institution as well as for industries in our region," says Bob Leifeld. "We will expand our leadership role in educating students for employment, and the Diesel Maintenance Technician diploma will be a tremendous asset for our graduates."