Jordan Loeffler, of Elsie, removes a turbo
charger from a Ford diesel pickup. Like his classmates in the Diesel Technology
Program, Loeffler had a job waiting for him when he graduated from college.
It's not just trucks, tractors, power units or locomotives.
Students who enroll in the Diesel Technology Program at North Platte Community College have an unlimited number of options available to them after they graduate. It all comes down to whether they want to stay close to home or see the world.
"We used to have a lot of students entering our program who planned to go back to their family farms," said Kent Beel, NPCC diesel instructor. "That's not so true anymore. I had one student who went south and worked on oil wells in the ocean. Another went north and did maintenance on wind turbines."
The two-year course provides training in engine design and overhaul, electrical systems, air brake systems, pneumatic and hydraulic systems, diesel fuel and control systems, transmissions, axles, metals and wel ding.
Sergio Torres, of North Platte, uses a scan tool
to diagnosis problems in a Ford diesel pickup. Students enrolled in the Diesel
Technology Program at NPCC practice on state-of-the-art equipment.
Students have the option of earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree. Basic engine and electrical, powertrain, fuel systems and diesel technology certificates are also available.
"We keep as up-to-date on our training equipment as possible," said Beel. "When students leave here, they are qualified to go to any shop and work. A lot of them also use what they have learned at NPCC to hire on with the railroad."
There aren't enough students to keep up with the demand from employers.
"Students are hired before they get out of here," said Beel. "If this is what they want to do when they graduate, then they've got jobs. They don't have to go looking."
The pay is good, too. Because of the demand, advancements in the field often come quickly, resulting in fast climbs up the salary ladder.
Student Call Boland, of North Platte, hooks up a
tractor battery. Boland is part of the Diesel Technology Program at NPCC.
"I took a class to Cooper Nuclear Station, and the guy giving the tour had started doing maintenance at the plant right after diesel school," said Beel. "Three years later, he was making $63,000 per year."
Beel also had a Kansas-based company that works on pipeline pumping stations speak to his class. The diesel technicians from that company were responsible for tearing down, working on and reinstalling pump engines.
"The lowest paid person on that crew made $65,000 per year and the foreman was taking home $120,000 per year," said Beel. "The money is out there for those who want to work for it."