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Mechanics Corner: Take advantage of training opportunities

Levi Perkins Published on 09 April 2012

It is a beautiful day and age to live in. Bill Gates once said, “Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.”

The age of innovation is now. It does not matter if a person is making reference to computers or dairy equipment – technology is changing both of these industries at a rapid pace.

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Technology aids in doing more with less manpower and in less time than ever before. Industries are changing, and the technicians that accompany them must change as well.

In this article, we will discuss two key points in continuing education for technicians to meet the demands of today’s ever-changing industries. The first will focus on having the right attitude to continue to learn in the workforce. The second will be how and where to receive training on the changing industry trends.

So much of what we do each day to be successful depends on our attitude. To be a successful technician, an individual must have a thirst for knowledge. Not many people like or enjoy change but it is inevitable, especially in industry.

As the instructor of the diesel technology program at the College of Southern Idaho , it is important for me to instill in students the desire to learn not only now, but each day.

Students in the program are focused on learning the skills to become an entry-level technician. One may ask the question as to whether their education is complete when they receive a job. The answer is most definitely no. In large part, their education is just beginning at this point.

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Some of the most successful technicians seem to be those who are proud enough to know they are talented but humble enough to continue to learn new concepts daily. The days are over where we, as technicians, believe that our learning can stop once we understand just a few concepts.

It has been said if a person buys a computer today that in three months it will need to be updated, in one year it will be out-of-date and in three years it will be obsolete and need to be replaced. The computer industry is very fluid and demands very dynamic technicians. This concept holds true for equipment technicians as well.

Almost everything we have today has some kind of microprocessor that is constantly changing. The cliché of mechanics being all muscle and no brains has never been true and definitely is not true now. The technicians of today need to learn how to exercise their brains more than their backs.

More than anything, the technicians of tomorrow need to have the attitude that if they wish to be successful they need to foster in themselves the attitude to learn continually.

Due to the increase of new technology, there are very few industries that are not moving at an incredible pace. When industries move and evolve, so do the technicians associated with these industries. Technicians must receive ongoing training in industry. The next question that should be asked is: Where can technicians and mechanics receive ongoing training?

Technicians should continue to receive training in their areas of expertise. Employers can start by identifying the areas of their industry that are very fluid and changing. It is amazing how many manufacturers will offer free training in tools and equipment to help people become better technicians and mechanics.

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Local educational entities are another source for training. For example, the College of Southern Idaho offers community education classes each semester. Although these classes do not offer college credit, they do offer certificates of completion.

A few examples include an industrial truck driving class (forklift operation) as well as 10-hour and 30-hour OSHA safety courses. Each year the college also hosts a Safety Fest where employers from across the Rocky Mountain region join to hold a week’s worth of free safety classes.

Another great resource for ongoing education in the field of technicians is local parts warehouses, such as NAPA, AutoZone, O’Reilly’s and Carquest. These training sessions are sometimes offered free of charge or for a low price (and many times even includes a free lunch).

The trainings may include classes on the use of new diagnostic scan tools, digital battery/alternator testers, air brake systems training and several other valuable classes full of information.

Almost always, the best place to obtain manufacturer-specific training is directly from the manufacturer. Several equipment manufacturers will hold classes locally, at dealerships or abroad to give specialized training on specific models or subsystems.

This training is expensive but a very good investment for the future in order to allow in-house technicians the ability to diagnose and repair these systems without subletting the work to the manufacturer or another company.

Last but not least, the very best thing technicians can do to aid in their ongoing education is get to know other places within their industry. So much can be learned from other individuals and professionals if both parties are willing to share knowledge.

It is not always about knowing the correct answer. The wisdom is in knowing where to find the answer or who to ask for it. This is the epitome of ongoing education.

In review, there are several places to receive ongoing training in the community and throughout the industry if you have the right attitude. Some come at an expense but several are free.

I end with a quote from John Dewey: “The aim of education is to enable individuals to continue their education … and the object and reward for their learning is continued capacity for growth.” PD

00_perkinds_levi Levi Perkins
Instructor
Diesel Technology Program
College of Southern Idaho

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