Diesel Technology Program Meets Growing Oil & Gas Industry Demands

An educational partnership forms a two-year diesel technology program in North Dakota to meet the demand for diesel technicians in the booming oil and gas industry.
Diesel Technology Program Meets Growing Oil & Gas Industry Demands
From, left, Barbara Bang, NDSCS dean of technologies and services division; Dr. John Richman, NDSCS president; Terry Marohl, NDSCS department chair of the diesel technology program department; Donald Shilling, president of General Equipment & Supplies, Inc.; Mike Hayes, Komatsu North America director of service marketing and distributor development; and Mike Mencel, vice president of product support at Road Machinery & Supplies Co.

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In conjunction with the North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS), construction and excavating equipment manufacturer Komatsu has entered into an educational partnership for a two-year diesel technology program. 

As demand for energy in a booming oil and gas industry increases, so does the demand for diesel technicians. Located in Wahpeton, N.D., NDSCS’s general diesel program offers students hands-on learning to service equipment from various manufacturers — engines, drive trains, hydraulic systems and electrical systems found on trucks, agricultural and industrial equipment.

General training includes a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on experience through internships with equipment manufacturers. In this case, students will train specifically on Komatsu engines and equipment.   

“There are a lot of diesel technology programs around and we have one of those,” Marohl says. “Students who come into our general diesel program receive training in construction equipment, agriculture equipment and over-the-road truck or transportation equipment.” 

The new program begins August 2014 and graduates earn an Associate of Applied Science degree to become service technicians in various fields, including the oil and gas industry. 

“What isn’t run by diesel in that industry?” says Terry Marohl, department chair of the diesel technology program department. 

In the general diesel technology program, students train on equipment from Caterpillar, Cummins, John Deere, Case, Kenworth and Peterbilt — to name a few. 

“They get exposure to all makes, all models and all brands,” he says. “Wherever they decide to go on their career path, they have a good start as an entry-level technician.” 

Partnership programs are designed for individuals who want to become a manufacturer-specific technician. Students receive more in-depth training on one brand, which is advantageous for manufacturers that invest in new employees who need additional education.

With the oil and gas boom expected to surpass most expert’s predictions and last for up to 40 more years, an increased need for skilled labor in oilfields nationwide is certain. 

“For every new technology deployed, for every new well, for every new oilfield, there remains a critical shortage of skilled workers,” says an article on Ideaslaboratory.com

In the article, Rhys Long, a GE Oil & Gas trainee production engineer, says, “It’s important to obtain some insider knowledge on the industry so work experience placements and internships are a good starting point.” 

NDSCS has similar partnership programs with other manufacturers for individuals who want to earn brand-specific training. “Manufacturers are basically growing their own technicians, and then sending them here to school to get their product-specific training and get them up to speed,” Marohl says. 

A skilled labor gap is evidence that more programs like these are necessary to educate workers in the oil and gas industry. Additional training also improves overall workforce development. 

Marohl’s favorite part of the diesel technology program is working with young men and women as they develop into the career they chose. 

“It’s neat to see that they’re excited about the career, then watch them hone their skills and be ready to go out and enter the workforce,” he says. “Any time you work with young people, that’s neat to see.” 

If you’re interested in signing up for the diesel technology program, visit www.ndscs.edu


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