When you think of someone working in the diesel technology field, do you picture someone arriving to work in a grease-stained uniform and steel toe boots or do you picture someone in a freshly ironed dress shirt and crisp clean slacks? Old images die hard, and for Rosedale Technical College diesel technology graduate Dan Matthews, the latter description is what you’ll see when he arrives to his desk job in the diesel field.
Dan is a Condition Monitoring Analyst at Cleveland Brothers Equipment Company, a Caterpillar heavy duty equipment dealership located in central PA. When Dan originally started Rosedale Tech’s 16-month diesel program, he had no idea of the variety of job opportunities out there and thought he was entering a lifetime career of “turning wrenches”.
“Diesel is my passion. I grew up around motors and engines of different sizes,” he said. “When I graduated I wanted to be part of something big and I really wanted to work on some of the newest technology.”
The rate at which technology is changing heavy duty equipment and personal vehicles accelerates every year. Many of today’s technologies rely heavily on computer systems to operate. In order to maintain and operate this type of equipment, there is a high demand for talented individuals with math, science, communications and technical skills to enter trade careers.
In his position at Cleveland Brothers, Dan along with one other analyst monitor about 8,600 machines across PA and parts of WV. Each machine has a box installed on it called a product link box that monitors all of the machines operational information, such as fault codes, fluid levels, etc. The reports get sent back to the office. Their department then takes all of the data that the machine sends and tries to be proactive instead of reactive to mechanical issues.
“If we see the machine has low oil or is running hot all the time, we can send this information out to the services department or product support representatives who then contact the customer regarding the issue. This then allows the customer to fix the issue before it becomes more of a catastrophic issue,” said Dan.
According to Caterpillar’s website, this new monitoring system allows for companies to make better equipment management decisions by reducing costs through preventive maintenance, fleet optimization and life cycle planning; improving utilization by scheduling equipment and personnel better; knowing the location, health and efficiency of the equipment; spotting problems before they happen with data, inspections and fluid analysis; receiving expert recommendations on equipment maintenance and repair; and more.
Dan is just one of many students who have secured untraditional opportunities within the trades.
“The trades have a lot to offer someone. I’m not what you would call a ‘typical’ student coming to Rosedale Tech; many of my classmates were looking for technician jobs,” he said.
A large number of students go on to complete multiple programs and find jobs where they can utilize both trades. Traditionally, many students complete the automotive and diesel programs to make them more marketable to technician positions. Recently, a group of students have completed the diesel and HVACR (heating ventilation air conditioning and refrigeration) programs and now work for a food service company repairing and maintaining their refrigerated trucks. An automotive graduate from 2010 is working on a team for Monster Jam® and travels the country with the vehicle.
“There are so many opportunities available,” said Dan. “With the degree you receive at Rosedale Tech you can work an office job like me or go into the field and work as a technician. The possibilities are endless.”