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Training & Education

Learning from experience

By FFJournal staff

WyoTech graduates’ passion and professionalism are major assets for employers

March 2016 - Students who are interested in careers as metal fabricators, automotive technicians and motorcycle mechanics will find classes filled with like-minded people at WyoTech. Founded more than 50 years ago in Laramie, Wyoming, WyoTech provides education and training for mechanical and technical occupations in automotive, diesel, collision/refinishing, motorcycle and marine technology. WyoTech is part of Zenith Education Group, a network of nonprofit career colleges.

Enrollment fluctuates because of the varied nature of program start cycles, but WyoTech currently has about 830 students. More than 60,000 people have graduated from its programs. It’s considered a destination with students from around the country temporarily relocating to Laramie or one of the school’s two other campuses in Daytona, Florida, and Blairsville, Pennsylvania. 

The first WyoTech school encompassed 9,000-sq.-ft.; today, the 370,000-sq.-ft. Laramie complex includes shop, classroom and administrative facilities. The Daytona campus began in a one-building classroom shop and now features 100,000 sq. ft. of shop space and 12 classrooms. The Blairsville campus has more than 265,000 sq. ft. set on 27 acres.

Hands-on study

WyoTech provides training programs for both beginning students and experienced fabricators. The curricula allows students to concentrate on technical skills through diploma courses or expand their education with associate degree programs. 

Core courses teach skills for those seeking entry-level jobs as technicians in the transportation industries. Students who already have work experience can take a variety of electives, including fabrication courses on street rod and custom fabrication and motorsports chassis fabrication. These classes include training for MIG and TIG welding processes, body modifications, performance upgrades and vehicle chassis modifications for street rod, racing and off-road vehicles. 

“The vast majority of students taking our fabrication courses are beginners who may have had prior experience in welding but little experience in metal shaping or fabrication or who have not previously had the opportunity to work with the types of fabricating equipment that WyoTech provides,” says John Hurd, industry relations specialist for the school.

Tools and equipment include MIG and TIG welders, metal cutting and shearing equipment, cold saws, engine lathes, Bridgeport milling machines, tube bending equipment, Scotchman metalworkers and power tubing notchers.

Depending on the application, WyoTech also uses both 110v and 220v MIG welders, 220v TIG welders, spot welders and plasma cutting equipment. 

Instructors are experienced tradespeople who stay current with the latest industry developments. To inform program curricula, instructors will attend sheet metal shaping and forming, fabrication and welding training events, conducted by companies such as Lincoln Electric, Lincoln Motorsports, Fay Butler and Lazzie. 

In addition to providing students with specialized skills, WyoTech prepares them for a 40-hour week.  Most students attend classes roughly eight hours a day, five days a week. Instructors enforce attendance and professionalism policies that match the expectations of industry employers. 

Finding a job

“We know that helping our graduates find good-paying jobs in their fields of study means working directly with the employers who hire them,“ says Hurd. “Our growing list of employer partners includes but is not limited to Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks, Mazda, Bridgestone, Pep Boys, Travel Centers/Petro, Snap On, AutoZone, CarMax and Ducati.”

Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks have donated millions of dollars worth of equipment. WyoTech also has a partnership with Mazda North American Operations. “Under this arrangement, students who successfully complete a new program will graduate as Mazda Level 1 certified technicians, preparing them to serve as successful employees at one of Mazda’s more than 640 U.S. dealerships,” says Hurd. To support the program, Mazda has donated more than 30 vehicles and specialized tooling and equipment, in addition to several current-model year vehicles rotated out annually. 

WyoTech’s Automotive Technology program introduces students to alternative fuels and vehicles. The Diesel Technology program provides hands-on experience with a variety of diesel engines and power systems, or students can learn how to service a compressed natural gas engine. 

WyoTech uses its employee partnerships, as well as industry-based advisory committees, employed graduate contacts and faculty/industry interactions to assess and identify potential improvements to educational programs. FFJ

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