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The City Journals

Canyons Technical Education Center’s diesel program boosts industry

Feb 22, 2017 11:49AM ● By Julie Slama

CTEC students learn about diesel engines in the school’s heavy-duty mechanics/diesel program that recently partnered with industry leaders and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to receive computerized engines, tools, new computers and software, and job-shadowing opportunities. (Ken Spurlock/CTEC)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]
During the past year, Canyons Technical Education Center’s (CTEC) heavy-duty mechanics/diesel program has been stepping up to answer the need to train more students in the field.
“There’s been a shortage of workers in the field, so we’ve stepped up our practice and have partnered with industry leaders and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development,” said CTEC Principal Ken Spurlock. The number of retiring workers as well as the increasing use of diesel engines in transportation vehicles creates additional demand for diesel technicians, he said.
Through the partnership, CTEC is receiving 12 computerized engines from Cummins to replace its engines from the 1970s, training and internships from industry leaders and a grant for about $12,000 from the governor’s office to help update software and computers as well as tools.
“The engines have much newer technology and we are using the computer software to better prepare our students when entering the job market,” Spurlock said, adding that the engines are valued at about $100,000.
CR England is making and donating the metal engine stands for CTEC.
“Industry businesses are providing internships and job shadowing so our students can learn what it is like in this field. Many people think that this means being a mechanic or parts person; however, many mechanics go into sales, become service reps, teach or own businesses,” Spurlock said.
“I started as a mechanic, then I went into teaching high school and became a principal. There are many avenues in the field,” he said.
Companies like Cummins, CR England, Komatsu, UTA, Wheeler Machinery and Kilgore Paving have donated time, engines and money to improve educational opportunities.
“Many of our students already have taken advantage of the internships and job shadowing and some are getting hired. Several of the companies also want their employees to continue learning so they given tuition reimbursements,” he said.
Through CTEC’s program, students learn that diesel technicians repair and maintain diesel engines that power many types of equipment, such as buses, construction vehicles and agricultural equipment. Students learn electronics, such as fuel regulators, emissions controls systems and timing systems.

CTEC’s program lasts two years. Students learn to use precision tools for detailed measuring of internal and external diesel engine components during a complete engine rebuild. They also will tear down and rebuild a large diesel engine and test their skills by starting the engine at the completion of the overhaul. Students will learn about 12/24 volt electrical systems and voltage drop, resistance, wiring and troubleshooting. Students will learn about brakes and air brake systems on large truck applications, become familiar with an oxy-acetylene torch and understand steering and suspension systems and drivetrain components including transmission and clutch repair.
“We have two classes of 25 students per class with great instructors. Students come from all five canyons high schools their junior and senior years. These students are learning how cars and trucks are operating and they work on their own cars to understand the brakes, engines and drivetrains. What skills they’re learning there can be applied to diesels — it’s the same, just bigger,” he said.
CTEC’s heavy-duty mechanics/diesel program also offers the Automotive Society of Excellence student certification.
“What many people don’t realize is that these kids are getting great training and certifications that lead to higher-paying jobs and they’re getting a boost in their future with concurrent enrollment at Salt Lake Community College.  There are great things happening here,” he said.