The dozen or so automotive technology students who gathered outside the Center of Applied Technology North today knew the school was set to receive a truck donation from Perdue Farms, Inc. That did nothing to quell their excitement, though, as a tow truck brought the 2011 International ProStar sleeper cab into the lot.
Like children at Christmas, the students strained to get a look at the truck, valued at about $24,000, as it approached. They immediately noticed it had a cab for sleeping, and joked about who would take advantage of that feature first. More importantly, however, they couldn’t wait to open the hood and see what kind of learning opportunities awaited inside.
“What it means is our students have access to the newest technology,” said CAT-North Diesel Power Technology instructor Jay Kepich. “It’s a huge benefit to have everything here in one piece. Our students will have access to the brakes, steering, suspension, electrical, and the whole vehicle so they can do preventive maintenance inspections.”
The importance of motor vehicles to Perdue’s business operation and a desire to help groom better mechanics is what drove the Salisbury-based company to make the donation, said Jim Herman, Fleet Maintenance Operations Manager for Perdue Farms, Inc.
“I like to tell people that chickens will ride on a truck at least four times from the hatching egg to a customer,” Herman said. “It’s a critical piece of our business and when I look at the technicians that need to be developed going down the line, this is an opportunity for Perdue to help encourage them, to give them some equipment to work with, and hopefully down the road maybe one or two will actually come to work and help us keep our fleet moving.”
Business partnerships are critical to the success at CAT-North because through them students can gather real-world experience that can’t be replicated in a textbook,” Principal Dan Schaffhauser said.
“They are the lifeblood of this school,” he said. “They make it happen for kids. It’s just very, very important for our kids to get these kinds of experiences and then to see what the industry has to offer.”