Dakota Farmer

Top Tech supports next gen

Top Tech partners students with machine dealers to improve education.

Sarah McNaughton

October 14, 2022

3 Min Read
Mechanic working on tractor
PARTNERSHIP: The Top Tech program helps connect students interested in the diesel technician field at technical colleges from around the nation team with machinery dealers in a partnership that gives students a job after graduation, and the dealerships a technician educated in their systems. fotokostic/Getty Images

Many might consider the next generation of agriculturists being those who are under 30 working in the industry. But what about those young people who are working and learning toward their careers? The Top Tech program from CNH Industrial was created for these students.

“We’ve identified that we need to get more people into our industry as service technicians,” says Pete Steiner, Top Tech program manager. “We have people who are retiring, and also less of the traditional students joining the industry. We work to reach out and find individuals who are interested in becoming service technicians and have them join our network.”

The Top Tech program benefits multiple parties, as it partners with North America’s top technical colleges who offer degrees in diesel, agricultural or construction technology. This way, students can go immediately into a career in equipment dealerships across the country. In the Dakotas, this partner institution is North Dakota State College of Science. Michael Redding is an associate professor of diesel technology and the program coordinator for Top Tech. “The Top Tech program allows the vocational and trade schools to access the CNH training library and access the systems used at the CNH dealers,” he says. “This way, we can train the students to know the systems and fit right into the dealership after graduation.” Students gain hands-on experience in using the dealership systems, troubleshooting the systems, and using electronic service manuals and parts manuals while in college.

Not only does this program ensure extra educational opportunities and a job out of college for the students, but it also ensures talented and well-educated technicians for the dealerships. “Every dealership would love to have his technicians learning all this in school,” Redding says. “Then, when they go back to the dealer, they just fall right in like they’ve already been working there.” Right now, there are 170 students enrolled in the general diesel technician program at NDSCS, and 10 students who are a part of the Top Tech program.

The need for good techs

With many individuals ready to retire from the workforce, Steiner says that they’re focusing on recruiting interested parties to the industry. “We’re focusing on national campaigns to raise awareness for the need for good technicians,” he explains. “We want to spread the word on the good career opportunities for individuals. They tend to be from farm communities who want to stay in those communities working in rural America, and we have a lot of satisfaction in supporting our customers.”

Students not only gain additional education from this program but also may even receive financial support from their partner dealership as well. “The majority of our dealers have incentive programs or scholarships or internships while the students are going through school,” Steiner says. “Many of them will offer incentives such as tool purchase plans to help that person get started.”

With technology across agriculture constantly changing, Steiner says it’s more important than ever for students to receive the best education. “The agriculture equipment industry has changed dramatically over the last 10, 15 years. There are a lot more electronics, and lot more precision, more GPS systems, so we want to make sure our schools are up to date on the latest technologies.”

Steiner is excited for this program to continue, and for the next generation to join the workforce. “You know, there’s never been a better time to be a part of the ag industry,” he says. “It’s exciting, with all the different technologies coming on, and we need to make sure that we have the right level of service at all of our dealer networks to take care of our customers.”

To find out more about the Top Tech program and find a dealership or school near you, check out the Top Tech website.

 

About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications, along with minors in animal science and Extension education. She is working on completing her master’s degree in Extension education and youth development, also at NDSU. In her undergraduate program, she discovered a love for the agriculture industry and the people who work in it through her courses and involvement in professional and student organizations.

After graduating college, Sarah worked at KFGO Radio out of Fargo, N.D., as a farm and ranch reporter. She covered agriculture and agribusiness news for North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Most recently she was a 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D., teaching, coordinating and facilitating youth programming in various project areas.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, serving on the executive board for North Dakota Agri-Women, and as a member in American Agri-Women, Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, enjoys running with her cattle dog Ripley, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

Sarah is originally from Grand Forks, N.D., and currently resides in Fargo.

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