Ozarks Technical Community College celebrated the grand opening of the MHC Diesel Technician Training Center with a ribbon cutting Monday.
The expansion was prompted by an rising demand for diesel technicians to fill spots in the fields of trucking, engine repair and remanufacturing.
"Springfield has long since been a hub of transportation, and we have had diesel training programs since the building [originally] opened 20 years ago. It has never been sized appropriately, and we knew with the waiting list that we had that it was time for us to really address the long term problem and add on," said Matt Hudson, OTC Dean of Career, Technology & Community Development.
This expansion allows for nine or more trucks to fit in the lab, compared to previous years two to three trucks. An almost doubled enrollment for the diesel technician program will be made possible as well. Previously, the program educated 16 sections per semester, but now OTC students can fill 24 sections. "That does two things-- that addresses the waiting list that we have had for several years, and gets those folks in to class and allows us to have an expansion opportunity as well," said Hudson. "We have also hired a full-time teacher to fill those spots, so we are really excited to be able to produce more graduates for the region."
The total cost of the 12,500 sq. ft. expansion was $2 million, paid for in part by a grant from the Economic Development Administration and private donors such as Murphy Hoffman Company (MHC). The truck dealership network chose to donate to the program because of the way OTC caters to the needs of the Ozarks.
"We have got a lot of trucking companies and dealerships here in the community that really need technicians to help support that [growing] workflow," said MHC Kenworth Branch Manager Patrick Doty.
This building expansion will benefit the 100 students currently enrolled in the DSL program, and the technicians of the future.
"Previously when we could only pull in two or three trucks at a time, that really made it tough for everyone to get in there and get their hands on a truck or an engine," said OTC Transportation Technology Department Chair Gabriel McLaughlin. "Now that we have this expansion, all students in every class can get their hands on a truck, get in a truck and get to work."
OTC made the most of this construction project by encouraging structural design students in a separate program to experience hands-on learning from working with employees in the industry.