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Diesel Technology Program to Begin Locally

A new Diesel Technology Training Program at Kankakee Community College will accept students beginning this summer.

“There are many diesel repair facilities in the area that are always looking for qualified diesel technicians,” said Paul Carlson, dean of the Business, Technology and Human Services Division at KCC.

Students will be able to complete six diesel classes in 16 weeks. Classes will meet at KCC’s Manufacturing and Industrial Technology Center on south Schuyler Avenue in Kankakee, and LaBeau Bros. on east Court Street in Kankakee. It also will include a video series from PACCAR with aspects of the Peterbilt Training Academy.

“Many area repair facilities have reached out about the program, but the extensive credit needs to go to LaBeau Bros. and PACCAR,” Carlson said.

“There’s a lot of opportunity, especially in this area, for this type of career,” said Paul Zens, general manager at LaBeau Bros. “There’s not a customer that I have, or somebody else, another business like mine, that’s not constantly looking for diesel technicians. It’s a very needed occupation. It’s a well-paying occupation and there’s plenty of opportunity out there. More opportunity than I think most occupations have. Everybody’s hiring. They are looking for this type of skillset. And there’s just been nothing in this area to develop that skillset.”

KCC will offer six courses for the program:

  • Diesel Fundamentals
  • Diesel Brakes
  • Diesel Electrical
  • Diesel Steering and Suspension
  • Diesel Transmissions
  • Diesel Engines and Repairs

Each class meets for two hours, three days per week over a four-week period. The course sequence beings with the fundamentals course. The remaining classes are staggered so that another one starts every two weeks.

Students who enroll will be eligible for financial aid. Qualified students can also have the entire cost of the program paid for–including tuition, fees, books and equipment—by the One Workforce Grant offered through the Calumet Area Industrial Commission. The Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act is another source of scholarships for qualified students.

The lead faculty member at KCC will be Brad Rechkemmer, who has more than 20 years of experience working as an automotive service manager. Rechkemmer is also ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) Master Certified, and completed diesel technician training with honors. After finishing training at KCC’s program, students will be ready to become PACCAR Diesel Engine certified, Carlson said.

“I approached Paul (Carlson) about a year ago, asking him if there was any way that KCC could build this program,” Zens said. “And the fact that we’re just 12 months outside of that conversation and it’s already up and running. It’s pretty impressive.”

In March, the Kankakee County Board awarded KCC a $463,780 social service grant to assist with development of the program.
For more information on diesel mechanic training at KCC, use the information request at www.kcc.edu/mitcclasses or phone 815-802-8500.