With a nearly perfect placement rate, students in the Diesel/Heavy Equipment Technician program at Chippewa Valley Technical College will soon be working in diesel maintenance facilities all around the Chippewa Valley. That makes it important that they train in a facility much like the ones they will be working in.
This academic year, students in the program are benefitting from the opening of a better facility. CVTC’s Diesel Education Center is now located at 2725 Arbor Court in Eau Claire, in a building originally constructed by the trucking company Arbor Freight Service Inc.
“The space was actually designed and built for equipment repair,” said Doug Olson, CVTC director of facilities.
The College is leasing the space from current owner MEP Associates. Inadequacies at the previous facility at CVTC’s West Campus made the move necessary.
“The industry has changed, requiring a larger facility,” Olson said.
“When I started 15 years ago, the trucks were probably five feet shorter than they are today,” said Rusty Naylor, program instructor.
CVTC’s original facility had only one entrance door, and one exit. Trucks had to be angled in to fit, and several trucks would have to be moved to get one out on some occasions. Plus, the facility could not physically hold enough trucks.
With the new facility, the program space increases from 9,500 to 16,800 square feet. Like today’s professional garages, the new facility has separate doors for each work bay. What was an office building for Arbor Freight has been remodeled into classroom space.
“It’s a much more open environment, and we’ve centralized our tool area, so there is less distance to the tools,” Naylor said.
CVTC has been expanding the program to meet market needs. There is high demand for diesel mechanics, and students are actively recruited before they graduate.
“We increased last year from 18 to 23 students,” Naylor said.
Olson called the new facility a good first step toward addressing the needs of a program that is working hard to meet the needs of an industry.