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Donation of Seven Diesel Trucks to Bolster Hands-On Learning in Multiple Instructional Programs at SBVC

Pilot program allows for trucks no longer meeting emissions requirements to be donated to SBVC’s Diesel Program for teaching purposes instead of being scrapped. Welding Technology and Auto Collision & Refinishing programs also set to benefit from donation.

diesel trucks lined up in a rowOver the last several years, the commercial trucking industry has begun facing the challenge of reducing the emissions of their fleet of vehicles—especially in California. Expensive retrofits of existing trucks and the purchasing of clean-burning replacement vehicles have also led to the challenge of determining what to do with diesel trucks that are out of compliance and thereby unable to continue zooming up and down California’s freeway system.

Enter Mike Siebert, Maintenance Director at Apex Logistics, LLC—the largest, most diverse bulk transportation company in the western United States. Siebert proposed a pilot program that would provide seven trucks that otherwise would have been scrapped to instead be donated to San Bernardino Valley College to be used exclusively for instructional purposes in the Heavy Duty Diesel Transportation System certificate program laboratory and classroom for five years before being destroyed.

For months, Siebert pitched the first-of-its-kind idea and navigated the labyrinthine approval structure of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to gain authorization for the pilot program. Finally, in September, approval was granted and the trucks—valued at approximately $280,000 rolled in to SBVC in October.

“This agreement now opens the door for similar donations to community colleges that are training the future of our industry,” Siebert said. “Instead of destroying these vehicles, students at SBVC will benefit from these valuable resources that otherwise would have been outside the reach of the program budget.”

Siebert’s involvement with community colleges began 40 years ago as a community college student training for a career as an auto and diesel mechanic. For the last 15 years, he has served on advisory councils helping diesel programs throughout southern California—including the last seven years at SBVC that led to the previous donation of trucks to the program. Advisory councils represent a network of professionals from local trucking and logistics industry that help shape the direction and focus of SBVC’s instructional programs to ensure that students completing the program are fully prepared for the workforce. In addition, Siebert is on the board of directors for the Distribution Management Association that provides an endowed logistics scholarship of $30,000 to SBVC that bestows $2,000 in scholarships to diesel students each year.

diesel truck frame workstation“I grew up in the community colleges —it is where I landed and got my education,” Siebert said. “If you don’t have the products for the students to get their hands on and touch, then there is no value to the school and the students.”

SBVC Diesel Program Faculty Kent Melancon welcomed the donations and has already begun steering the vehicles into the daily curriculum of the program.

“We’ve already created a learning module for students to study the braking system,” Melancon said. “Now each of the 20 students in a class has an equal opportunity to experience the hands-on training needed to be successful in the industry.”

The first four trucks will be cut behind the cab for use in the Heavy Duty Truck System course (DIESEL 028) and the Electrical Systems course (DIESEL 019). The remaining trucks will have their engines and transmissions mounted on mobile stands to be used in a variety of courses before being cut in half. Engines will be used in the Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines course (DIESEL 021) and the Advanced Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines course (DIESEL 024). The cabs and transmissions will be used in future courses and training modules. After the frames are cut in half, the rear halves will be used for the Heavy-Duty Truck Brakes course (DIESEL 022) and the front halves will be used for Heavy-Duty Truck Suspension and Steering Course (DIESEL 023).

Beyond the diesel program, students in SBVC’s Welding Technology and Auto Collision and Refinishing programs will be catching an educational ride from the arrival of the donated trucks. Students in the welding program will be assisting with the dismantling of certain portions of the vehicles as part of their class assignments. In addition, the fiberglass hoods and panels from the vehicles will become prep and paint training material for the auto body/collision students.

“A certificate or a degree in a career and technical program at SBVC is a quick path to middle-class jobs—especially since 72% of the people who live in the area surrounding our campus are blue collar employees,” said Achala Chatterjee, SBVC Division Dean for Applied Technology, Transportation & Culinary Arts. “Because technical training lab classes are expensive to run compared to academic lecture classes, we try to come up with creative partnerships like this to provide our students the best training possible with current curriculum while keeping our lab training relevant to the needs of the community.”

For more information on the SBVC Diesel Technology program, please contact Kent Melancon at 909.382.4082.