December 2013

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Page 47 of 75

We Can't Do It Without You Workforce Stephanie Weaver and Miguel Serrano, students in the Equipment Service Technician Program at Reedley College (Reedley, Calif.) check the AC system on a Challenger 65 using pressure gauges and an infrared heat gun. The AED Accreditation Program is big win for all stakeholders – but technical P programs cannot succeed in producing quality graduates for the dealer's service department without industry's all-in participation. BY WILLIAM ATKINSON Business literature is replete with stories of "win-win" situations. There are even some examples of "win-win-win" situations. But who's ever heard of "win-win-win-win" situations? The AED Foundation has – its AED Accreditation Program provides such an environment, in which equipment manufacturers win, equipment dealers win, local community and technical colleges win, and their students and graduates win. For this workforce "score four" environment to take place, though, everyone must be seriously committed and actively involved. All the stakeholders must be willing to commit time and resources to create and maintain active and cooperative relationships with each other. How did the initiative begin? "In the late 1990s, the industry and AED got interested in dealing with a major issue – finding qualified equipment technicians to repair and maintain the equipment," said Steve Johnson, executive director of The AED Foundation. "That shortage continues to this day." Why does the shortage exist? Many years ago, the maintenance and repair of diesel equipment was relatively basic and didn't require a significant amount of technical, electronic, and computer knowledge. But equipment these days is highly sophisticated, and in need of technicians who understand physics, engineering, math, and computer technology, and also have very strong written and personal communication skills. At the same time, the construction equipment industry continues its efforts to shed the grubby, "blue collar" stereotype that school counselors and parents perpetuate throughout our culture. Needless to say, it's difficult to attract student to these jobs – often kids with these interests and aptitudes prefer to go into other professions, such as engineering or computer technology. AED created a task force composed of manufacturers, dealers and technical colleges to look at this problem. "The task force defined a strategy that we continue to pursue to this day," said Johnson. It began with defining: What should a student who attains a two-year degree in equipment technology know? This led AED to create the industry's technical standards for education. The published document, about 80 pages long, is called "Standards for Construction Equipment Technology." It covers six areas: hydraulics and hydrostatics, electrical and electronics, power trains, diesel engines, air conditioning and heating, and safety and administration. "These standards are important," (continued on page 48) 46 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | December 2013

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