Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

‘Diesel Day’ returns, drawing 600 high school students and industry partners

Story by Misty Bouse. Photos by Ric Getter.

Hands on demo

On May 4, the Diesel Service Technology Program’s annual “Diesel Day” at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus attracted local and regional companies showcasing the newest, high-tech equipment and heavy-duty trucks. Representatives from leading manufacturers and firms led informative career workshops for the roughly 600 Oregon high school students who attended this annual event that had not been held since 2019.

“We’re here to celebrate ‘Diesel Day’ and the impact on the transportation and other industries providing an opportunity for living wages for many of our students,” said Dr. Adrien Bennings, president of PCC. “Here in this space is an example of true collaboration and partnerships – all committed to student success. Companies like Pape Equipment and Republic Services are here, among others.”

Ukrainian children playing.
The Strategic Plan: Workforce
  • The 2020-2025 Strategic Plan prepares the college for the future of higher education. Part of the plan is responding to community and workforce needs by developing a culture of agility.

Learn More! »

Hands-on learning sessions offered students the opportunity to find out what today’s well-paid diesel technicians do in the field. Industry partners held panels that enabled students to ask questions about the diesel industry. The attending students, college staff, current diesel service technology students, partners and community members were present for sessions and demos that included engine disassembly, fuel system testing, Bobcat skid steer operation, electrical component troubleshooting, and industry information sessions.

The event brings in students from all over the state who have the opportunity to see what it’s like to spend a day as a diesel technician. The Diesel Service Tech Program works closely with most companies in the Portland Metro like Daimler Truck along with some nationwide corporations like Penske and FedEx, to name a few. Some of the other companies participating included Peterson CAT, Pape Equipment, Pape Truck, Premier Truck, Shaeffer Oil, Sunbelt Rentals, Modern Machinery, BigHorn Logging, United Rentals, Burrows Equipment, TEC Equipment, Ford Motor Company, Oak Harbor Freight, Republic Services, Washington County, and Power Systems West.

“Our students become the trainers to the visiting high schoolers,” said Russ Dunnington, program faculty chair. “They have an opportunity to try machines hands-on. It’s very interactive and the employers hold information sessions where students get to ask questions directly. This involves industry partners from heavy construction equipment to trucks like semis and power generation. Our Electric Power Generation Service (EPG) is a two-year degree program. This could be, say,  power back-up for hospitals or Facebook or Columbia Sportswear.”

Isaiah Rapp, a current PCC diesel service student from Tigard, attended Diesel Day before he graduated high school in 2020. he was inspired by what he saw then and as a result is now pursuing his Diesel Service EPG degree. He spoke with recruiters from United Rentals.

“I’m thrilled to learn that they are hiring EPG-degreed techs right in my Tigard backyard and starting pay was in the six figures,” said Rapp. 

Diesel Service students and industry representatives attested to the importance of the college’s training program and the great paying jobs that await after graduation. Students performed hands-on learning with heavy equipment and saw and sat in the newest medium and heavy-duty trucks and talked with many employers from Daimler, Peterson CAT, Pape Equipment and Truck, FedEx, Power Systems West and more. 

For more information on the PCC Diesel Service Technology Program, visit www.pcc.edu/programs/diesel-service/