Texas Rising - April/May 2011

JET Keeps Midland’s
Oil Fields Trucking

by Gerard MacCrossan

Midland College’s $144,500 Job Building Fund grant bought
diesel engine training equipment

Midland Student Puts New Skills Right to Work

One of the first students set to graduate with the associate degree is already putting his newly learned skills into practice at his family business, Lenora Trucking. Chase Greer began taking dual enrollment diesel classes while a high school sophomore. Now he’s enrolled full-time at Midland College and learning about current brake and fuel injection technology on some of the newly acquired equipment.

“Right now, I am taking a class diesel engine performance,” Greer says. “We have an engine we are working on that is on a stand. We have to wire it up, put on tachometers and other parts.”

Already Greer has become an integral part of the business.

“My father depends on me a lot for maintaining the trucks,” he says. “We run about 40 trucks and have 80 employees.”

 In Fall 2010, Midland College’s diesel engine program enrollment was split between 35 dual enrolled high school students and 27 college students. The dual enrolled students can complete 15 hours and be well on their way to obtaining the associate degree by the time they graduate high school.

Read more about Midland College’s Automotive Program.

Photo supplied by Midland College.

Chase Greer, left, and classmates in Midland College’s Automotive Technology program trained to repair and maintain diesel trucks on specialized equipment purchased using a Job Building Fund grant.

The roads of West Texas are paved with black gold – oil that is. And diesel trucks log millions of miles each year on the asphalt to and from oil derricks around Midland.

They all need maintaining, and thanks to the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) legislation, Midland College has been able to expand its diesel engine training to a specialized associate degree. Midland College was awarded $144,500 in the first round of grants from the Every Chance Job Building Fund to buy equipment for hands-on training at Midland’s Advanced Technology Center.

“The grant was much needed,” says Ted Sumners, director of Midland’s Automotive Technology program. “Just having the tools that the grant gave us is a great part of helping the industry in this area get the work force training it needs.”

In particular, Midland has purchased specialized tools, such as alignment training equipment, and simulators to train the students specifically to work on diesel-powered vehicles.

With the large number of three quarter-ton and larger diesel trucks in service in the oil fields, there is a lot of demand for the skills being taught at Midland College. Technology advancements mean training centers are constantly battling obsolescence in their training equipment.

Before getting the JET grant, the college was equipped to offer enough diesel-specific classes for its students to be certified without taking general automotive credits, too. This new equipment will give Midland students for the next three to five years an opportunity to train on up-to-date equipment.

An advisory committee suggested the Automotive Technology staff add the associate degree to the existing certificate program training high school dual credit and post-secondary.

One member of the committee is diesel mechanic Augustine Maldonado, who maintains trucks for oilfield company Kel-Tech and works as an “Introduction to Diesel” instructor at Midland College. After serving in the military, Maldonado returned to West Texas and started driving a truck. He took classes at Midland College in the mixed diesel/automotive program and is excited about how the move to more specialized training.

“Previously we didn’t have the equipment and the 18-wheeler to show students on site,” he says. “Now they receive that training on the specialized equipment and can go straight through to the degree.”

Every year, truck manufacturers upgrade and add new features to their vehicles. So Maldonado’s employers benefit, too, from his involvement with Midland College.

“Being an instructor, I’m staying on top of the technology,” he says. TR