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image Don Bryant retrieves soldering equipment in the Industrial maintenance lab at TATC. The technical college offers a course in the field after researching local job market needs.

December 19, 2013
TATC gets down to business and trains industrial-strength maintenance workers

Superman can leap tall buildings in a single bound and is faster than a speeding bullet, but Jason Romano of Tooele will soon be able to do much more.

After 900 hours of training, Romano will be able to replace bearings, fix gear and belt drives, complete maintenance machining and welding, understand hydraulics and pneumatics, repair industrial pumps, fit pipes, trouble shoot computers and more.

Romano is one of three students currently enrolled in Tooele Applied Technology College’s new industrial maintenance professional training program. He’s banking on the new program to increase his employability and income.

“The TATC program will help me pursue a better career and increase my options,” he said.

With 147 hours already completed, Romano is finished with his computer-based training in maintenance fundamentals and is ready to hit the lab in the industrial maintenance classroom at TATC for some hands-on training.

“The work on the computer text book was very smooth,” he said. “It even helped me get through the math that I need for doing this kind of maintenance.”

The industrial maintenance classroom at TATC has been outfitted with machines and tools needed to train the modern industrial mechanic, thanks in part to a $98,000 grant from the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Instruction in the industrial maintenance program is all individualized—open-entry, and open-exit—according to Don Bryant, TATC’s industrial maintenance instructor.

That means there are no group classroom lectures. Students may start the program at any time, and they finish when they demonstrate mastery of the required skills, according to Bryant.

“We estimate the average student will take 900 hours to complete the course,” he said. “Students that have some experience may be able to complete a little faster.”

Along with computer-based instruction and the hands-on lab experience, Bryant lends his experience of 38 years as a maintenance mechanic for U.S. Magnesium to the training program. He has organized the instruction into seven fields: maintenance fundamentals, maintenance welding, maintenance mechanics, maintenance machinist, maintenance electrician, fluid power, and supervision of maintenance.

The skills are in high demand by some of Tooele County’s largest employers, according to Deborah Labenski, program specialist with TATC.

“In the process of selecting industrial maintenance and designing the program, I met with representatives of Cargill Salt, ATI Titanium, U.S. Magnesium, Kennecott Utah Copper, and other local industrial companies,” she said. “They all said this is the kind of training they need. I heard a lot of ‘We can’t find people with these skills and we need them.’”

The Division of Workforce Services lists industrial maintenance mechanic as a five-star occupation, meaning it is an occupation with strong employment outlook and high wages.

The average wage for an inexperienced industrial maintenance mechanic in the Salt Lake metro area, which includes Salt Lake, Tooele, and Summit counties, is $18.61 per hour. The average salary for all industrial maintenance mechanics in the metro area is $24.21 per hour.

Romano is excited to finish the lab part of his training experience which he has easily scheduled around his part-time job schedule, he said.

“This is what we do at the TATC,” said Labenski. “We work closely with local employers to provide training programs that are relevant to today’s job market.”

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