MCTC Diesel Technology Turns Experience into Careers

Dennis Swartz
Associate Professor/Coordinator, Diesel Technology

Not every college student can say that they have had job offers before graduation. But, Maysville Community and Technical College (MCTC) student, Josh Butcher, can. Josh lives in Bath County and is enrolled in the Diesel Technology program on MCTCs Rowan Campus in Morehead.

Fixing engines has always been one of Joshs interests. I would rather work on a vehicle than work in a factory, said Josh. I have fixed tractors and other equipment on our family farm. I have also worked in a parts house in Mt. Sterling for a while. I found out about the Diesel Technology program while still in high school. I like big trucks so I was really interested. There is a turn over with older mechanics leaving the workforce. So, anywhere you go you will be able to find a good job and make good money in this industry. I always encourage anyone I talk to who is interested in this field to come to MCTC.

I'm Dennis Swartz. I have worked in this industry for about 25 years and have made a living at it. I joined MCTC as the Diesel Technology coordinator and instructor 15 years ago. Before that, I worked as a master certified diesel and heavy duty mechanic as well as an engine machinist and auto mechanic. The trucking industry has changed a lot over the last 20 years. It has gone from very little technology to in-depth computer systems. Trucks now have computers for engines, transmissions and break systems. These developments are opening a lot of positions for new mechanics. A lot of older mechanics do not want to have to go back and go through new training to learn computer systems

This program has made several new equipment and technology purchases such as an electronic engine and an Allison automatic transmission. We own a new Kabota back hoe that has in depth hydraulics and a small engine that we train students with on electrical systems. We have several engines that we do on-stand work with to familiarize students with basic engine components. Our program brings in a lot of live work for students to repair as they are learning. Several times we have worked on trucks for volunteer fire departments.

Our program accepts students at all skill levels. Every student will increase their level of understanding as much as they are willing. Students will not learn everything there is to know about the diesel industry in only two years. This field is always changing. We do make sure, however, that they are ready to enter the workforce when they graduate.

We have all the tools we need to work with right there in the shop, says Jordan Porter, a Diesel Technology student also from Bath County. Dennis lets us diagnose a motor to assess our knowledge. I have also learned a lot while working with the more experienced students. I worked several different jobs during the two years after I graduated from high school. I had planned on going back to school for a while to get more experience and Im glad I finally did.

Our program offers certificates in 12 different skill areas. Students can also complete medium and heavy truck, agricultural, or construction equipment diplomas, or continue on to an Associate of Applied Science degree. Many of our students are nontraditional, which means they are not in the typical college age group. Our graduates can make anywhere from $12 an hour up to $28 to $30 an hour. If graduates do not mind working in a variety of areas, then they can raise their earning potential. A diesel mechanic seldom does the same kind of work two days in a row. They might work on a Detroit engine today and fix a Caterpillar tomorrow.

If you would like more information about the Diesel Technology program here at MCTC, give me a call at 606-783-1538 extension 66341. You can also send me an email.