Simplot Donation to Benefit UBTech Diesel Mechanic Students

Written by, Lezlee Whiting

Heavy Duty Diesel program students at Uintah Basin Technical College will have an opportunity for hands-on training on a donated piece of equipment thanks to a relationship between UBTech and Simplot Phosphates. Simplot is also offering one paid externship at the phosphate mine north of Vernal for a UBTech student enrolled in the Heavy Duty Diesel program.

The donated trailer, a 1999 Wilson CF900 48-foot flatbed, is no longer used by Simplot and the ABS braking system and hydraulics are in need of repair, said Simplot Maintenance Manager Ty Clines.

The need in industry for qualified diesel mechanics spurred the new relationship between Simplot Phosphates and UBTech.

Simplot and UBTech are working together to provide more opportunities for students in the Heavy Duty Diesel program. Simplot donated this 1999 Wilson CF900 48-foot flatbed trailer valued at $7,000 to give students hands-on repair experience. Pictured left to right are: Seth Taylor, UBTech CDL Instructor; Gary Duncan, UBTech Director of Energy Services; Bob Peterson, UBTech Vice President of Development; and Ty Clines, Simplot Maintenance Manager.

“We got talking about a collaboration opportunity with (UBTech instructors) Justin Jorgensen and Tyler McKee – they are always asking how they can help us, and I told them we have this trailer your students may benefit from,” Clines said.

“There’s a big need and we have trouble filling the ranks with qualified heavy duty diesel technicians,” said Clines. “It’s an extremely low percentage of diesel graduates who go into mining statewide.”

Simplot has a vested interest in UBTech’s Heavy Duty Diesel program students and wants them to be eligible to apply for jobs at the mine, said Clines. Justin Jorgensen, Heavy Duty Diesel program instructor is working to facilitate that training.

Simplot is also collaborating with UBTech in another important way by offering an externship through a pilot program to one Heavy Duty Diesel program student. Nine students have applied for the position that will pay $21 an hour and provide critical hands-on training at Simplot for three months, followed by another three months of hands-on tutoring at Wheeler Machinery, said Clines.

The externship program could possibly be expanded to allow three to four more students to participate in the future. There’s also the possibility the externship could turn into a full-time job with Simplot, Clines said.

According to statistics, miners earn well over Utah’s average wage of $46,460. According to the Utah Mining Association, miners have an average earning power of about $82,000 per year.

“If the student works out well they could be a candidate for a full-time job. Even if they don’t go directly into diesel mechanics at first, it’s a great foot in the door at Simplot,” said Bob Peterson, UBTech vice president of development. “This is a great illustration of our continued partnerships with industry for the purpose of benefitting UBTech students.”

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