Technicians never stop learning on the job
Brent Newville, 34, an instructor in the Heavy Duty Truck Technology program at Dakota County Technical College, grew up working summers on his grandfather’s 400-acre dairy farm in Milaca, Minn. Milaca might be best known as the birthplace of Belle Bennett, the star of the 1925 silent classic, Stella Dallas, but for Newville the small farming community on the Rum River is where he established his work ethic and knack for repairing heavy equipment.
“We maintained all our own equipment on the farm,” he recalled. “I was already working on tractor engines at the age of ten.”
A 1997 graduate of Coon Rapids High School, Newville went on to earn his A.A.S. degree in Medium/Heavy Truck Technology from Hennepin Technical College. While at HTC, he excelled in SkillsUSA, taking first place in Diesel Equipment Technology at the 2000 SkillsUSA Minnesota State Competition and 12th at the SkillsUSA National Championships in Kansas City, Mo.
Newville soon turned an internship at Boyer Trucks in Rogers, Minn., into a successful career. With six service locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota, Boyer Trucks is a full-spectrum truck store, handling sales and service for top names in the trucking industry, including International, Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, Condor, Isuzu, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel, Cummins, MaxxForce and Allison.
“I started as an entry-level technician at a brand-new shop in Rogers,” Newville said. “I worked at Boyer Trucks for fourteen years, specializing as a master technician in driveability and engine work. Boyer is a great place to work, but I always wanted to be an instructor.”
Heavy Duty Truck Technology: Quick Facts
- DCTC has the only specifically heavy duty truck training program in Minnesota. (ISEEK Education)
- Ninety percent of DCTC heavy duty truck technology graduates find employment in their field.
- Instructors Ken Klassen and Brent Newville have achieved ASE Master Technician status.
- Individuals who have completed postsecondary training in diesel engine repair have the best shot at job opportunities. (U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- The program is accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, better known as NATEF.
- The program maintains strong partnerships with industry leaders.
- Curriculum is based on current industry standards.
- Second-year students can obtain paid internships at industry shops.
- Industries that rely on diesel engines will need 35,200 new technicians by 2020 for a total of nearly 280,000 diesel technicians nationwide. (ISEEK Careers)
- Students can earn industry-recognized certifications on completion of courses.
- The U.S. trucking industry generates $225 billion in annual revenue.
- In 2011, the trucking industry moved more than $603 billion in freight, or about 80 percent of all freight transportation in the country.
- Wages for truck technicians in Minnesota and the U.S. exceed the statewide and national medians.
Newville interviewed for a faculty position in the DCTC Heavy Duty Truck Technology program in the summer of 2012. He impressed an interview panel with his industry knowledge, technical skill set and desire to teach. He started teaching in the program that fall semester and now has a year of experience teaching at the collegiate level.
“Teaching is even better than I expected,” Newville said. “I had a great group of students right from the start. I have found that students enter our program with varying skill levels. We can teach them the technical skills, but what we really want them to learn is how to use their online resources. The trucking industry is always advancing and the best technicians know they need to stay current with new technology on the job.”
Emission standards are one example of how big trucks are taking the lead in technology. “We have new emission standards going into effect in 2014 and then again in 2017,” Newville said. “Except for carbon monoxide, the exhaust going out is almost cleaner than the air going in. Technicians need to keep up with the changes. A problem with emissions can shut a truck down. The technician needs to troubleshoot the problem quickly and get the truck back on the road as soon as possible.”
Newville added that trucking service centers have calculated that for every hour a truck is down for repairs, the driver or trucking company loses about $800 in revenue. Because pressure on the job can be intense, good technicians need strong people skills. They need to communicate clearly with drivers who might be worried or upset while keeping their shop managers up to speed on the progress of a given repair.
“That means as a technician you need to know what you’re doing,” Newville said. “As diagnosing problems becomes more difficult, knowing how to best use your on-the-job learning resources becomes more important.”
In his spare time, Newville enjoys drag racing. He has worked as a crew chief and driven his own cars. He is currently working on a 1970 Dodge Dart and a 1971 Plymouth Duster. He hopes to have both cars built and running by the summer of 2014.