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The Clark County Skills Center.

THE CLARK COUNTY SKILLS CENTER IN VANCOUVER, Washington, is in the planning stages for celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2008 Diesel technology is one of the original programs offered when the school began in 1983, and it remains a strong component in Clark County Skills Center program offerings.

I am finishing my 20th year as the instructor of the diesel technology program," says the center's Phil Baus, who is also the program's director. "When I send students out on internships, many times their supervisor or the business owner is a former student of the program. I also have former students on my advisory committee, and at least one is talking about having his son in this class in a year."

Baus has been instrumental in the program's evolvement over the last two decades, and he remains enthusiastic and challenged with each new wave of students who enter the program.

"In the early '90s, I introduced adventure-based learning to teach team building and leadership. It has done wonders to improve student achievement," notes Baus. "We now have a rope-challenge course on campus with both high and low elements Students learn a great deal about themselves as they swing through trees or solve a very large puzzle with their team. More than a few students have told me that the day on the course was the best day they ever had in a school."

The Clark County Skills Center's diesel technology program is a two-year program to prepare students for entry-level positions in the heavy equipment industry, or to prepare them for further education and training at a postsecondary institution. Students enrolled in the diesel technology program will learn the operating theory, maintenance and repair of large trucks and off-road equipment The systems studied will include electrical, hydraulics, engines, air systems, brakes and power transmissions. Emphasis is placed on the safe operation of hand and power tools, overhead cranes and forklift trucks.

"We pull our students from 21 different high schools for each class," states Baus. "Many of my students are from the rural parts of the county. A better descriptor would be that they are very much hands-on learners. Although they don't particularly like being in the classroom, they often surprise themselves with how much they can learn because now they can apply it. They really enjoy solving a mechanical problem. If a vehicle will not start. and they get it running, the students are all grins for at least two days!"

The Clark County Skills Center diesel technology program is an NATEF-certified medium to heavy truck training program. It is also certified for both brakes and preventative maintenance/inspection. Students who maintain a "B" grade for both years of the program earn 20 college credits for their high school class. Successful completion of the program prepares students for entry into the workforce or further education.

"The career a student chooses after completing the diesel tech program really depends on what a student wants to do with their technical skills," says Baus. "If they like working with products opportunities may include technician, fabricator or service engineer. If they like working with people, there are possibilities in equipment sales, part sales, or as a service writer. If their strength lies in organization there are a great number of possibilities in fleet management, warranty claims analysis or management of any of the departments found within a dealership."


Whatever career graduates from the Clark County Skills Center diesel technology program choose, they may be assured that they have acquired the best in diesel technology training.

For more information about the Clark County Skills Center, visit
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Geographic Code:1CBRI
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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