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Shop Talk: State touts Iowa diesel mechanics training program as success

Jul 21, 2010

Lt. Governor praises Iowa Biodiesel Board for leading effort to ensure biodiesel’s acceptance

ANKENY, Iowa –  Jerry Burns has had thousands of Iowa’s future diesel technicians pass through his classroom at Des Moines Area Community College.  At one time, they might have gone into the workforce without a genuine understanding of how biodiesel works in a diesel engine – and with a reluctance to recommend the green, renewable fuel to their customers. 

Not anymore.  Like other teachers in his field, Burns is taking part in a program that trains community college instructors in teaching biodiesel curriculum, with a goal of increasing biodiesel use and acceptance in the state. 

Led by the Iowa Biodiesel Board, the Biodiesel for Diesel Technicians program has reached more than 700 students throughout the state in just one year. 

“What a mechanic says to customers carries a lot of weight,” Burns said.  “The feedback we get from our students is that they walk away feeling much more comfortable with understanding how high quality biodiesel works in a diesel engine, and thus supporting its use.”

The Biodiesel for Diesel Technicians program is supported by a $50,000 Iowa Power Fund grant, in the spotlight this week as Gov. Chet Culver and Lt. Gov. Patty Judge tour the state promoting the fund’s successes.  Judge stopped by the IBB headquarters today to congratulate leaders on the program’s success. 

“Biodiesel is an important part of our state’s new energy economy, and this type of education is a critical component of what the Power Fund is intended for,” Judge said.  “We’ve seen evidence that this mechanics training program investment has already multiplied, and it is a shining example of a success story of the Power Fund.” 

Survey data show before taking a course in biodiesel led by instructors trained under the program, just 33 percent felt “fairly knowledgeable” or “very knowledgeable” about biodiesel.  After the course, 74 percent classed themselves in those categories. 

“Before this program, we heard anecdotes of diesel mechanics discouraging the use of biodiesel, which is not only bad for the state’s biodiesel industry, but for the state’s economy, environment, and agriculture,” said Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.  “It’s amazing how far a little education can go, and we thank the Power Fund for helping to make this effort a reality.” 

The training program is also supported by the Iowa Soybean Association and National Biodiesel Board, and is replicated on a national level.  

The Iowa Biodiesel Board is a state trade association dedicated to the commercial success of biodiesel in Iowa. 
 

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For more on Iowa biodiesel and the Biodiesel for Diesel Technicians program, visit www.iowabiodiesel.org

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