Hinds celebrated a new partnership Sept. 26 with Empire Truck Sales and Stribling Equipment to train students in the college’s growing Diesel Equipment Technology program.
Key to that partnership is a state-of-the-art training facility, the Diesel Technology Academy, provided by Hinds’ industry partners on Highway 49 in Richland.
“The Hinds Diesel Academy is another example of the ability of Hinds Community College to work directly with business and industry and carefully craft a workforce development pipeline that develops students to fill not only the skills gap that exists in the diesel Industry, but also combat the shortage of technicians in Mississippi,” said Dr. Chad Stocks, vice president for Workforce Development and Adult Education at Hinds.
Gov. Phil Bryant, a Hinds graduate and himself the son of a diesel mechanic who worked at Empire as his last job, said the academy represented both job creation and better quality of life in the state.
“Today, the men and women who will go through this Diesel Technology Academy will have a bright future,” Bryant said. “They will be able to live the American dream. And what they will make per hour making these advanced technology machines we see here, they may be able to buy a home…make sure that their children can go to Hinds Community College and over to a great university. Living the American dream will be the responsibility of those who will teach here.”
At a signing ceremony, Stocks referred specifically to the program’s role in filling middle-skill jobs in Mississippi – those that require an education beyond high school but not a four-year degree. He also touched on other jobs in the truck and heavy equipment maintenance industry that could benefit from those who complete the program, such as parts, body work, sales and logistics.
Getting to that point, however, required numerous meetings with industry partners to revamp curriculum.
“We brought this curriculum out of the 1980s and into the 21st century,” Stocks said, referring to the nearly three-year effort with industry partners. “Once we started with that curriculum, we modified about six or seven other curricula and got them into the 21st century as well.”
Under the agreement, a new cohort of 15 students enters the program every eight weeks if they meet minimum requirements in core subjects either on the ACT or college placement tests. The first year of classes is held on the Raymond Campus; the second year at the Diesel Technology Academy.
“We know there is a huge need in Mississippi for programs like this one that train people for skilled jobs that are there waiting to be filled in industries that are critical to business growth,” said Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse. “And these are good jobs that offer wages and benefits that can sustain a family. Thanks to this partnership and this impressive facility, we can satisfy both the needs of the industry and the desire of our people for good jobs.”
Jerry Swanson, the CEO of Empire Truck Sales LLC and Stribling Equipment, said Hinds’ partnership with KLLM Transport Services to form the KLLM Driving Academy in 2014, also in Richland, was the inspiration behind putting together the Diesel Technology Academy.
“We are very excited to see a vision of improving job opportunities for our young people become a reality,” Swanson said. “This effort has been more than two years in the making and, with Dr. Muse’s and Dr. Stocks’ leadership, is now a vibrant testimony to industry and education partnerships.”
Broken out, the program offers an accredited transition pathway of 15 semester credit hours, a career certificate at 30 credit hours, and an Associate of Applied Science degree at 60 credit hours. Two options are offered for technical certificates, at 45 credit hours transportation (medium to heavy trucks) and another for heavy equipment.