Donated trucks provide hands-on learning for future mechanics

June 11, 2012 - 6:28am

Good corporate citizenship – that’s what Glen Tulloch, District Operations Manager for Waste Management —Nanaimo division calls his company’s ongoing commitment to Vancouver Island University.

Waste Management (WM) donated six trucks to VIU’s Heavy Duty/Commercial Transport Mechanics training program in the last four years, including two front-end load waste refuse trucks donated recently.

The trucks, used in a regional collection program, are retired from active duty but serve as perfect training tools for students.

“For Waste Management, this is about ‘giving back’ in a way that strengthens our long-term partnership with the university and the community,,” said Tulloch. “We have about 80 employees from Campbell River to Victoria. One day, some of these student mechanics currently being trained at VIU could end up working for us.”

Tulloch forged the relationship between Waste Management and VIU several years ago. “I was talking to Joe Skipsey, instructor in the Heavy Duty Mechanics program about apprenticeship placements,” said Tulloch. “We got talking and that’s how it started. I knew Waste Management had some old equipment sitting around the shop that wasn’t in service anymore. It made sense to donate the machinery to VIU for training students,” said Tulloch, who serves on VIU’s Advisory committee for the program.

Paul Mottershead, chair of VIU’s Heavy Duty/Commercial Transport Mechanics program, said Waste Management and other companies have donated upwards of $250,000 worth of training equipment to VIU in recent years.

The donations are welcome, especially when fiscal challenges prohibit VIU from purchasing training equipment.

“When you teach mechanics, there’s nothing like giving students the opportunity to work on an actual vehicle,” said Mottershead. “Students gain experience in engine repair and brake service hydraulic testing, exactly the kind of hands-on training they need. We appreciate Waste Management’s ongoing support and the support from other companies for our program.”

Tulloch said it makes perfect sense for Waste Management to recycle its retired trucks for training purposes. “We divert this equipment from the metal scrap yards and put it to excellent use at VIU,” he said. “It’s good for students and good for the environment.”

“We value the communities we serve and believe in helping to train the future mechanics of tomorrow,” added WM District Manager Mark Mebs. “We’re proud to support our local university and the community.”

VIU’s 10-month Heavy Duty/ Commercial Transport Mechanics program covers all aspects of highway-type trucks and buses, bulldozers, loaders, excavators and earthmovers including shop equipment, safety, mechanical reasoning, air and hydraulic brake systems, power transfer systems, gasoline and diesel engine systems, and welding.

The program, which has been training mechanics since 1937, consists of classroom lectures and many opportunities for hands-on training. Successful graduates earn an entry-level certification in heavy duty mechanics and commercial transport mechanics, and can choose one of two apprenticeships they would like to pursue. Each year, the program accepts 36 students.

Fred MacDonald, Dean of Trades & Technology, said trained mechanics are in high demand.

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