2 SGTC Caterpillar ThinkBIG graduates receive scholarships

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, May 29, 2016

AMERICUS — Two South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) heavy equipment dealers service technology (HEDST) graduates from the Caterpillar ThinkBIG program were awarded “The mikeroweWORKS 2016 Tool Scholarships” recently at a special dinner hosted by Caterpillar dealers from Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee in the John M. Pope Industrial Technology Center in Americus, prior to the South Georgia Tech 2016 Spring Graduation ceremony.
Timothy Garrison Patrick of Lake Cormorant, Mississippi, and Brandon Ward of Prattville, Alabama, each received a $1,000 check from “The mikeroweWORKS Foundation” to help purchase tools for their new careers in heavy equipment technology. Both Patrick and Ward earned their associate of applied science degree in heavy equipment dealers service technology. They were selected for this scholarship based on their grade point averages (GPA) and on an application to the foundation. Ward had a 4.0 GPA and Patrick had a 3.95 for Fall Semester from the Group 15 CAT ThinkBIG class.
Ward is currently employed at Thompson Tractor Co. at its Shelby County branch in Alabaster, Alabama. Patrick is employed by Thompson Machinery Corporation in Memphis, Tennessee.
“The mikeroweWORKS Foundation” is a 501(c)(3) public charity that rewards people with a passion to get trained for skilled jobs that actually exist. As CEO of the Foundation, Mike Rowe spends a significant amount of time speaking about the country’s dysfunctional relationship with work, highlighting the widening skills gap, and challenging the persistent belief that a four-year degree is automatically the best path for the most people.
Through its scholarship programs, including the Work Ethic Scholarship Program, the Foundation provides financial assistance to qualified individuals with a desire to learn a skill that is in demand.
The Foundation has been instrumental in granting more than $3 million in education for technical colleges across the country.
Ward explained why he selected the South Georgia Technical College Caterpillar ThinkBIG program in his scholarship application.
“I knew I would receive the best training and education I could receive with a program based around both school studies and real world experience,” he said.
“Learning skills at school and immediately applying them at my dealer was a rewarding and effective training system,” Ward continued. “Receiving an associate’s degree in applied science from a college that was AED accredited was another reason for attending the ThinkBIG program. I could be assured that my training would be viewed as creditable by any potential future employers … I am proud to say that I can be part of a job that cannot be outsourced to other countries and is growing in demand. The traditional thought of a mechanic is no longer true; today’s technicians have to be smart to perform their jobs efficiently.”
Patrick, who was also selected as a scholarship winner, initially attended Tennessee Technology Center of Memphis to earn an airframe and power plant license to work on airplanes. He worked in that field for six months before the stock market crashed and took his employer with it. He looked for other jobs but finally took a job with a construction company.
One day, he saw a flier that had the words “ThinkBIG” printed in large black and yellow letters. The flier was advertising the “ThinkBIG” program sponsored by Caterpillar, which trains mechanics to work on their equipment. He contacted his local CAT representative and began the application process.
He was accepted into the program at SGTC and, after more than two years of construction work, he was headed back to school.
“My original thought was I have not been in school for years, and now I have to start all over. I was a little nervous, but I knew that if I was able to complete the school I would be a certified Caterpillar technician and have a college degree,” said Patrick.
“Once I started the program and was able to put my hands on the different machines, I was hooked,” he continued. “The different challenges that each piece of equipment presents is mind blowing and exciting at the same time. I do not think that I can imagine a better career for myself. I love what I do.”
Patrick added, “To me this means that no matter how far I go, I can always work for a company that is as large as Caterpillar. With such a large company, the career possibilities are endless. I can be a field technician, a sales representative, or part of the management team.”
The Caterpillar machines that these students learn to work on come with electronically controlled engines, satellite-based navigation systems, sophisticated computer-based diagnostics, and state of the art hydraulics.
To work on these machines, service technicians must be highly trained in computers, electronics, hydraulics and more.
Students applying for this program must be accepted by SGTC or another cooperating college and meet specific dealership requirements that include placement tests and completion of a portfolio before final acceptance.