Collaboration on technology creates faster, more agile classrooms for Diesel students

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Not only has the Oregon Employment Department forecast diesel mechanic jobs in the Portland area will grow by more than 14% through 2027 but Portland Community College Diesel Service Technology Program students on the Rock Creek Campus will have cutting-edge technology at their fingertips. This Fall, the program will be ramping up to full swing after a recent, much-needed technology upgrade to workstations.

computer carts.

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. A big part of this effort is ensuring students have the latest technology so they are learning on the most high-tech of equipment, such as the Diesel Service Technology Program.

Learn more about the programs

The Diesel Service Tech Program, or sometimes know to staff as DS, now boasts brand new, specialized student computer carts with faster computers that can be deployed around the shop. This allows the technology to move with students as they rotate through their learning stations and diesel equipment for optimal efficiency. According to Sam Perkins, Rock Creek Campus Information Technology computing specialist, the snazzy project took about five months altogether, but once the devices arrived it took only a few weeks to complete.

“Last month, with the help of DS’s instructional support technician Mike Patten, we got everything set up in just a few weeks,” said Perkins.

Instructors will also benefit from new access to certain software for their classes that was previously inaccessible. The specialty software the program uses is mostly brand-specific. It is engine diagnostic and key programming software such as Cummins INSITE, Detroit Diesel DiagnosticLink, and Caterpillar Electronic Technician. They also use some training and simulation software such as the LabVolt Hydraulics and Pneumatics Simulation Software. So the need for speed was definitely indicated by faculty, said Perkins.

“The previous computers were about eight years old and took 15 minutes just to boot up,” said Perkins, who has been with PCC for 10 years. “But we got that down to just about 15 seconds. I would guess that over the course of a term, a student might now save up to 10 hours of time that was previously spent just waiting for the computers.

Sam Perkins

Sam Perkins.

“I’m really proud to be a part of PCC – and especially the IT team – knowing my work helps people start careers and get ahead in life is incredibly fulfilling,” he added.

This cooperative effort of Perkins and the IT team, working with the DS faculty, will make a huge improvement for overall student success starting this fall term. Usually, student computers are purchased by IT, but this batch was a special order outside of the normal replacement cycle. The upgrade was made possible by using funds from the college’s Instructional Technology Fee.

These fees are also used to support some of the following PCC services: Computer Resource Centers; Computer Labs and printers; and new Digital Navigators with phone and online technology support. Check the schedule at for hours and location information. Student technology fees vary from term to term. For more information visit the Tuition and Fees webpage.

For more information on the DS program, visit

About Misty Bouse

A Portland Community College public relations specialist, Misty Bouse has been working in college advancement for a decade. A graduate of University of Oregon, Misty has worked as a managing editor for BUILDERNews Magazine and as a contribu... more »