TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology student Coye Gallagher holds an apprenticeship with HOLT CAT in Longview. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

(MARSHALL, Texas) – The Diesel Equipment Technology instructors at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus regularly team up with local companies to offer apprenticeships in off-road diesel equipment to their students. 

“Apprenticeship programs have been out there since the industry began,” Ralph Cottrell, one of the program’s instructors, said. “It’s one of the ways that industries get new hires at a young age and are able to train them specifically in the needs that they have.”

These opportunities are typically offered to fourth-semester TSTC students, but companies have recently begun accepting those in their second and third semesters.

HOLT CAT’s Longview location — known for construction equipment rentals — offers apprenticeships to students who want to pursue an automotive or diesel maintenance career. The company has accepted several TSTC students into the program before, some of whom have found full-time employment with the company after graduation.

Trey Smith, the company’s machine shop supervisor, is a TSTC graduate himself.

“There’s definitely a lot of value in what TSTC’s doing with the diesel equipment program,” Smith said. “I think that ultimately it’s going to create a lot of value for not only our company, but those individuals that are wanting to pursue that career with us.”

Another construction equipment supplier, ROMCO Equipment Co., has been looking to bring in younger technicians to replace retiring ones. East Texas branch manager Justin Crowley says the company has found that East Texas and TSTC often produce technicians who grew up in rural settings with knowledge about engines and farming equipment, which it considers advantageous for new employees.

“We recognize that with the advancements in hydraulics and electronics, it seems that the technicians or the students that are coming out of TSTC are very well equipped to tackle the challenges that we face on a day in and day out basis,” Crowley said.

TSTC student and HOLT CAT apprentice Coye Gallagher connected with the company via the Marshall campus’s biannual job fair. He recommends an apprenticeship to current and future Diesel Equipment Technology students to help them see if the field is right for them.

“A lot of people get into a shop and decide it’s not for them anymore,” Gallagher said. “It’s good to get a look into what you’re actually going to be doing and what a day-to-day life is like. I’m enjoying it.”

TSTC student Skyler McMurrian accepted an apprenticeship with ROMCO. He described the company as caring and family-oriented, and he hopes to continue working there in the future.

“It’s like one of those communities where if things are going on, you can reach out and they’ll help you,” McMurrian said. “(An apprenticeship) is a big step, especially while you’re in college, and you learn a lot more physically.”

For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.

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TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program offers apprenticeships to fourth-semester students, but they can be earned as early as the second semester. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)
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