Above: Jermaine Perkins of Clinton is a student in Hinds Community College’s Diesel Technology program.
Balancing a small business with family obligations was a tough road for Jermaine Perkins before he entered the Diesel Equipment Technology program at Hinds Community College.
“I was always paying someone to do mechanic work for me on my dump truck when I ran a business,” said Perkins, of Clinton, a husband and father of two. He said his prior knowledge of engines was limited to just gasoline engines. “Here, I’ve learned a lot about diesel engines, which is a totally different aspect versus cars.”
The diesel industry in Mississippi has expressed a major need for diesel technicians. To meet this need, the diesel program of Hinds is expanding by offering a night option. This will allow prospective students to work during the day while attending classes at night. The night program is a 16-month program that provides students with a kick start into a highly rewarding, highly successful career. Classes will meet 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Sydney Broach, 27, of Newton took advantage of the current 14-month day program where he expanded his own mechanic skills.
Sydney Broach of Newton
“I’ve always had an interest in diesel engines and this helps us stay on the road,” said Broach, who is part of a family-owned transport company and also works at Empire Truck Sales. “My younger brother went through this program about three years ago. I saw what he learned and got in when I decided to get into trucks. I wanted to learn how to work on them so I know something about it.”
The program trains students to maintain and repair a variety of diesel equipment, including tractors for the farm, big rigs for the open road and an array of construction equipment. They also learn to inspect, repair and maintain engines, power trains, hydraulic systems, electrical systems, air conditioning and brake systems.
Students may earn multiple industry certifications in each of several areas of concentration during the course. Introductory coursework takes place at the program’s facility on Highway 18 in Raymond. Advanced courses take place at the Diesel Technology Academy at 301 Highway 49 South Frontage Road in Richland.
“It will take students three semesters plus one summer to complete the diesel part of the program, which results in a technical certificate at graduation time,” said Lee Douglas, Director of the Diesel Equipment Technology program. Students then have the opportunity to pursue an Associate of Applied Science from the program with successful completion of core academic coursework.
Broach received his technical certificate in spring 2022, while Perkins expects to complete the program by midsummer.
“It’s been an awesome experience here,” Perkins said, adding his skills have already gone to work for him in his nighttime job as a mechanic. “I’ve learned the in-depth details of how diesel engines work, from A to Z.”
Broach sees a bit of service work in his newfound skills. “It feels good to help people and not send them on a loop buying all kinds of parts for their trucks,” he said.
For more information about the Diesel Technology program, including the night program coming in August 2022, call 601-857-3478 or visit Diesel Technology. Night hours will be 5:30 pm.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday for 16 months. The day program meets Monday-Friday for 14 months.
The program provides the competences required to maintain and repair a variety of industrial diesel equipment, including but not limited to agricultural tractors, commercial trucks and construction equipment.
Graduates go to work at local dealerships that sell and service heavy-duty trucks and industrial equipment. Positions like these see an average annual income of $50,000 at the state level.