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Two Jakes lead college's Diesel Technology program
Posted: 4/14/2011 When Jake Fay and Jake Conrad aren’t teaching classes in diesel technology, they’re occupied with acquiring new tools and machines for students to work on. The Diesel Technology program will make use of a 35-foot, 1996 Gillig Transit bus.

The bus, which has 598,000 miles on it, is fully equipped with electronic engine and transmission. It was purchased for $3,000 from Intercity Transit of Olympia.

The two Jakes, both assistant professors of diesel technology at Centralia College, have the same goals: to bring updated and diverse equipment to their program and be hot on the heels of technology. They want to incorporate more modern construction equipment and off-highway vehicles for students to study. And ultimately, to enhance the quality of the final product—the student who graduates from CC’s diesel tech program.

“We both have seen plenty of people who cannot perform the basic requirements of their job. No basic knowledge or basic skills—they were so far from being real technicians. We want to cut down on that,” Fay said.

Fay and Conrad also spend time networking for industry support. They solicit donations to pay for equipment and scholarships. They recently acquired a $12,500 forklift for the cost of freight—$1,500; and obtained a $20,000 grant from Caterpillar—$5,000 will be used for diesel student scholarships.

The two Jakes want to give back to CC

Jake FayFay, 31 of Adna, began teaching at CC during fall of 2008. He graduated from CC with an Associate Technical Arts degree (now known as Associate Applied Science/Diesel Equipment Technology) and obtained a Bachelors of Science degree in Diesel from Montana State University–Northern (MSU-N).

He was working for Cummins Northwest in 2002 when Mike Garrison, retired CC diesel technology instructor, convinced Fay to be a member of CC’s Advisory Committee.

“I was working swing, so it was pretty convenient to come in to help during the day,” Fay said, “which got me back involved with the college after being a way for a few years.”

Garrison suggested that Fay become involved with writing tests for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) in Seattle. He began interviewing and hiring people and discovered that those looking for work were missing some knowledge; so he wanted to return to the college to make the program stronger.

“It got me more interested in what we were teaching” Fay continued. “I became more concerned about what was being taught and what the final product was coming out of the program.”

Fay covered classes while Ken Rakoz, retired CC diesel tech instructor, went to conferences and a sabbatical to Africa. In 2005, Fay taught Rakoz’s classes for two quarters. He’d work his regular swing shift and teach during the day.

When Garrison retired, Fay stepped in. “Ten years ago, I never thought I’d be here.”

About six other colleges around the state teach diesel technology.

“We serve a pretty wide geographic area,” Fay said. “We have students who come from Grays Harbor, Cowlitz and Thurston counties.”

“And one who drives from Vancouver every morning,” Conrad added.

Jake ConradConrad, 32 of Rochester, started working at CC in January. He has an 11-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter. Like Fay, Conrad graduated from CC and MSU-N. Conrad worked for Smith Tractor in Chehalis and then Papé Machinery in Tacoma and Montesano before joining the college.

“We want our students to have the basic knowledge and skills and professionalism to work with customers and get things done correctly,” Conrad said.

Both Fay and Conrad are working towards their tenures. Fay received tenured in March and Conrad just began the three-year process. They both enjoy working on other rigs between quarters. Fay likes to work on big trucks; while Conrad prefers tinkering with heavy off-road equipment.

CC students learn the fundamentals of fuel systems, electronics and hydraulics operations; theory and operation of basic physics of how things work. No one can learn everything—meaning all engines, makes and models; but the two Jakes expect students to be able to figure it out.

Conrad tells his students, “Go back to your roots, the theories and the basics, to solve problems.”

They are referred to by their students as “Jake and Jake Squared” and believe their program has a strong reputation and is well known with MSU-N. There are a fair amount of employers looking for those degrees. MSU-N is the only college west of the Mississippi which offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Diesel (equipment and technology). No one offers a master’s program.

Washington Occupation Information System, WOIS, reports that 60 percent of mechanics have no experience beyond of high school. Thirty-five percent have a certificate, and less than 5 percent have a bachelor’s degree. Typically 20 students graduate from CC each year and five to eight continueonto MSU-N. CC has 48 students enrolled in diesel classes this quarter.

For more information about the program, see Diesel Equipment Technology.

For information about other Workforce programs, see Workforce Education.

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