Education News

Oct 9, 2013 1:00 AM by Jacqueline Quynh - KPAX News

Missoula College diesel class seeing resurgence

MISSOULA - Diesel engines long thought by some to be dirty and bad for the air may not sound appealing to a new car buyer, but students in Missoula are lining up to work on them.

The United States is projected to be the top producer of petroleum in the world this year, overtaking Russia - and now we have a growing oil industry in Eastern Montana.

You might be wondering what the commotion is with diesel - and one way to explain it is to explain why students are studying diesel technology to get ahead.

One classroom at Missoula College campus tends to get a little smoky from all the diesel equipment, but that's not deterring any of the students.

"We have a student from Connecticut, we have a student from New York - we just graduated two from New Jersey last year," Diesel Equipment Technology Manager Jim Headlee said.

He has no qualms about touting the Diesel Technology Program as one of the best in the country - he says it's the reason why many come from all over to study in Missoula.

"[I] saw that there were a lot of opportunities and positions open for this kind of work, so I applied waited for a year and got in," student Benjamin Rolin from California told us.

Rolin's fellow classmates also say the key to being part of the oil boom starts in classrooms like the one at Missoula College.

"If you take it, you will find a job. And so I'm sure a lot of people want to go into it - because it's a secure way to find a job," student Lindsay Knight explained.

Students start off with the basics by learning about various engines, ranging from Volvo to aterpillar.

The students then get their hands dirty working on other vehicle parts, including axles, computers and brakes.

Headlee told us that the waiting list to get into the class has been growing over the past few years.

"We have a year, two year waiting list, and we just don't have enough room," Headlee said.

About a dozen or so folks are waiting to get into the program, which usually holds around 45 students.

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