DCTC’s Heavy Duty Truck Technology Program: Competitive and Accredited
Dakota County Technical College’s Heavy Duty Truck Technology program received the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation Master Accreditation, the highest level of achievement recognized by NATEF. DCTC is one of only four post-secondary schools in Minnesota to receive the NATEF accreditation for a Medium/Heavy Truck Technician training program.
The college’s Heavy Duty Truck Technology program underwent a two-year evaluation to meet strict industry standards throughout eight areas. Patricia Serretore, NATEF president, signed the award letter on May 17, 2012, saying many educational institutions strive for the accreditation, but only a small percentage, achieve it.
Ken Klassen, Heavy Duty Truck Technology instructor, explained that the NATEF accreditation means a higher level of training for students at DCTC. “It assures our students that they are going to meet industry standards,” he said. “Employers in the heavy duty truck industry are beginning to require certifications, so for our students, the NATEF accreditation is the qualifier they need to obtain employment.”
The accreditation begins with an application and a self-evaluation of eight subject areas:
- Diesel Engines
- Suspension & Steering
- Electrical/Electronic Systems
- Preventive Maintenance Inspection
- Drive Train
- Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning
NATEF reviews the application, and if the program qualifies for an on-site evaluation, an Evaluation Team Leader is assigned. The on-site evaluation for the initial accreditation requires the ETL to observe students in the classroom for two consecutive days. According to Klassen, the intent is to look at the program from both the current and prospective students’ perspectives, to ensure it is a quality training program that is attractive to those seeking higher education in a transportation related field.
The ETL submits a report to NATEF with a score and a recommendation to the ASE Board if the program should or should not be accredited. For Klassen, the two-year process was long, but in the end, very positive. “It forced us to review all of the curriculum within our program and work with our industry partners to identify areas needing change,” he said.
Instructors teaching a NATEF accredited program are also required to obtain certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Similar to NATEF accreditation, ASE certification involves training in the instructors’ subject areas through a series of tests.
As the saying goes, ‘the rest is history.’ DCTC’s Heavy Duty Truck Technology program is NATEF accredited for the next five years. At which time, the program must request renewal of the NATEF accreditation.
Klassen explained that the accreditation process was an excellent opportunity to become aware of the future direction and standards required of the heavy equipment industry. Klassen said, “By obtaining this accreditation, I am more confident than ever that DCTC’s Heavy Duty Truck Technology program provides students with a solid foundation for success in the field.”