Hinds has had a partnership with Empire Truck Sales/Stribling Equipment to train diesel technicians and parts specialists since 2016.
The program trains students to maintain and repair a variety of diesel equipment, including tractors for the farm, big rigs for the open road and an array of construction equipment. They also learn to inspect, repair and maintain engines, power trains, hydraulic systems, electrical systems, air conditioning and brake systems.
The introductory courses are at the Gray-Partridge Center on Highway 18 near the Raymond Campus. Advanced courses take place at the Diesel Technology Academy at 301 Highway 49 South Frontage Road in Richland. Students then can choose one of two paths: Diesel truck technology or heavy equipment technology.
“It’s a huge partnership,” Creel said. “They provide us equipment that we otherwise could not afford to have to train our students on. They’re OK that students go to work somewhere else; they don’t expect them all to come to work for them.”
However, the Diesel Technology Academy does help provide a larger number of diesel technicians to Empire/Stribling.
Bower said Stribling Equipment has even loaned Hinds a simulator, skidder and knuckleboom loader for another program, Logging Equipment Operator program, which has saved the college thousands of dollars and the ability to offer the only program in Mississippi to support one of the state’s largest industries.
Both Bob Bullard, general service manager for Empire Truck Sales, and Joel Thomas, general manager at Stribling Equip-ment, are Hinds alumni and had relationships with the college.
They say the partnership has been rewarding for their business. “It’s very difficult finding people for our industry. It’s a pretty challenging career path and not everybody wants to do it,” Bullard said.
“Everything we asked for, Hinds tailored to fit us. They changed the way they were intaking and graduating students, which was a huge benefit to us. We didn’t have to wait until once a year. And they allow us to interact with students on a day-to-day basis, if needed,” Bullard said.
Thomas needs mechanics who can work on Stribling’s heavy equipment. “Hinds has produced some very good technicians for us. They come out better trained. They’re more productive,” Thomas said.