South Plains College is now home to the first accredited Diesel - FOX34 Lubbock

South Plains College is now home to the first accredited Diesel Technology Program in Texas

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Texas has its first national accreditation for a Diesel Service Technology Program, and it is in Levelland at South Plains College. 

The Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) foundation recognized SPC for setting a precedent in the state, hosting a ceremony on the Levelland campus Wednesday morning. 

Martin McCormack, the associate director of development and workforce with the AED, said it is a long-time coming for Texas to receive accreditation for a Diesel Service Technology Program, and South Plains is a great start. 

"We have just under 50 accredited programs at colleges, and we just started recognizing high schools as well. As you guys know better than me, Texas is the second largest state in the country, and this is our first accredited program," McCormack said. 

Whitney Owens, the program's coordinator at South Plains, said this achievement is a big step in putting the college on the map, making it a more attractive destination for students.  

"Hopefully we will have more people want more students out of our program, which is going to create more demand for students to come into our program... So it's just a win-win growth factor for us, plus we're meeting industry needs," Owens said.

McCormack said programs like this will set a precedent in helping fill technician shortages across the country. 

"Everyone is looking for qualified technicians, and this is how we build that pipeline for technicians. It's getting the students an education here at South Plains or another accredited program across the country, then we get them into a dealership. They may start as a diesel technician, but there are lot of ways to work up," McCormack said.

Owens said SPC's program trains its students in a professional environment, and it gives them the opportunity to immediately transfer their training into the workforce. 

"We get calls on a regular basis on hey, I need some guys. A company calls up goes, I need four techs, you got any coming out? No, they were already hired. A good technician coming out of a program like ours, you go get that first job and get a little bit of experience, and you're going to be making six figures," Owens said. 

Gage Renfro, the first AED-certified technician to graduate from the program, said it taught him everything he knows about the industry.

"Without this, the training I got at this school, I wouldn't be where I am now. I have a full-time job, I'm making good money, I have a career," Renfro said.

Owens said Renfro is the first of what will be many success stories, adding diesel technicians are going to be in high demand for years to come. 

"We kind of have a saying around here, and it's kind of a tongue-in-cheek thing, but it wasn't for diesel you'd be walking naked and hungry. We keep this world running, and it takes technicians to keep that equipment operating, and that's what we hope to provide, good technicians," Owens said.

The closest programs beyond Levelland are in Oklahoma and Arizona.

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