- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

YORK, Neb. (AP) - Ethan Thorne is the latest of four York High Students to gain training and work experience at Truck Center Companies he couldn’t get any other way.

A partnership between the company located south of the I-80 interchange and York High School began, said YHS principal Mitch Bartholomew, “When we talked about internships for our students in diesel tech” with Truck Center Companies, which already had a program in place, the York News-Times (http://bit.ly/1gztUr4 ) reported.

That company-wide initiative, however, does not approach the depth and complexity of the curriculum Service Manager Joel Kaup has written for York’s interns.

“This company has opened its arms up to York High School and given students fantastic experience,” said Bartholomew. “This is something York High School can’t provide,” he explained, adding, “These guys have done a fantastic job realizing we’re working with high school students.”

Kaup said all four of York’s interns have been “well behaved and on time.” Everything about them has been good, he said, “And in some cases better than some right out of tech school.”

The upside for the trucking industry is how the program points young people who are so-inclined toward diesel technician positions. Those jobs are, in many cases, going unfilled.

“There’s a huge shortage of them now,” Kaup confirmed.

The advantage for students like Thorne is to get a head-start on a diesel tech career and to have a foot already in the door with a large, professional company.

It also means, Kaup said, “He can come out and see what he wants to do. If it’s not for him he will save money” and time pursuing more extensive and expensive training in the field.

Make no mistake, stressed Kaup, this is not grease-up-to-your-ears work.

“It’s a struggle,” he said, “trying to break down that stereotype. This is not a grease monkey career.” Quite the contrary, state-of-the-art technology and a laptop are the modern diesel tech’s most important tools.

Modern trucks are so space-age, Kaup said, that some have the ability to independently send back symptoms to the shop, while rolling down the highway, when they aren’t feeling well. Such systems require no input from the driver whatsoever. What happens, explained Kaup, is that the truck itself shoots him an email, most likely before the driver even knows something is up.

With rocket science systems like that, Kaup and other service managers in the industry don’t need someone to hold a wrench, “We need these smart, young, talented kids” who are tech savvy.

York High’s first three interns, added Bartholomew, “All commented that it’s far more than turning a wrench.”

There’s a near-term employment aspect to the internships, too. Thorne and others before him have completed their course of study through YHS and been retained to keep right on working in the expansive shop at Truck Center Companies. Kaup said one of the first three interns has now been awarded a $10,000 scholarship to attend classes at the tech school in Milford.

Thorne said the program, “Really taught me more than I expected.” The structured work environment has benefited him as well. His favorite part of the internship? “Wiring,” he said with no hesitation.

The partnership, said Bartholomew, “Fits exactly into our career programs.”

YHS now has career-oriented paths that lead students directly to well paying work in ag chemical application and irrigation technology, as well as the Agronomy Academy that’s conducted in cooperation with local seed corn companies. The Agronomy Academy has potential to help a student choose among a multitude of specific jobs beneath the massive umbrella of a very diverse industry.

“We’re trying to find kids’ interest area,” Bartholomew explained. “We want them to understand not every kid is going to go to a four-year school.”

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Information from: York News-Times, http://www.yorknewstimes.com

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