Sun Area Technical Institute

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Diesel Technology  

The Diesel Technology program at the Sun Area Technical Institute prepares students for higher education or immediate employment in the truck and bus repair field, as well as the maintenance of diesel engines and other related machinery used to power ships, locomotives, electric power generators, and heavy-duty construction equipment. Students receive a combination of diesel theory in the classroom and practical hands-on training in the laboratory. Students are also given the opportunity to obtain their Pennsylvania Vehicle Safety Inspection license and to prepare for the ASE Certification exams administered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

In the classroom, students receive in-depth lectures on diesel theory and learn the basics of the diesel engine system, including heavy duty truck systems, medium/heavy duty truck engines, and fuel and computerized management systems. Through lively class discussions, study materials, and written assignments, students develop critical thinking and reasoning skills, communication skills, and comprehension in both mathematics and technical writing. Topics of discussion include gear ratios, U.S. Standard and Metric measuring systems, effective shop management, writing service records, customer service protocol, and more.

In the laboratory, students gain practical hands-on training, carefully guided by their instructors as they learn how to inspect, troubleshoot, and repair diesel engines, steering and suspension systems, wheel alignment systems, starting systems, basic electrical systems, charing systems, air brake systems, hydraulic brake systems, diesel engine cooling systems, diesel engine intake systems, diesel engine exhaust systems, diesel engine electronic control systems, anti-lock brake controls, diesel engine lubrication systems, and clutch systems. Students also acquire valuable hands-on experience in using the proper procedures for performing preventive maintenance and inspections. 

Using shop schematics, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, pneumatic wrenches, lathes, torch cutting tools, welding tools, machine tools, computerized diagnostic equipment, precision measuring instruments, lab scopes, circuit diagrams, and electronic multi-meters, students disassemble, inspect, diagnose, repair, and reassemble various diesel engines and their integrated sub-systems.

Students will develop important analytical, technical, and problem solving skills, while strengthening their mechanical aptitude. Each student will be expected to practice shop safety awareness and handle hazardous materials according to strict OSHA guidelines. The value of teamwork and effective time management will be discussed and practiced as students work alone and in groups to complete every task assigned to them by their instructors with accuracy, detail, and proficiency, without compromising quality workmanship. Ethics, professionalism, and integrity will also be stressed throughout the Diesel Technology program at the Sun Area Technical Institute. 

The Diesel Technology Curriculum

The Diesel Technology program is made up of the following career-specific classes:

  • Workplace Safety Skills I
  • Workplace Tools & Materials
  • Basic Related Principles
  • Steering & Suspension Systems
  • Tire & Wheel Systems
  • Workplace Safety Skills II
  • Basic Electrical Systems
  • Starting Systems
  • Charging Systems
  • Hydraulic Brake Systems
  • Air Brake Systems
  • Workplace Safety Skills III
  • PA State Inspection
  • Basic Engine Principles
  • Diesel Engine Overhaul
  • Diesel Engine Cooling Systems
  • Intro to Diesel Engines
  • Diesel Engine Intake & Exhausted Systems
  • Diesel Engine Electronic Controls
  • ABS Brake Controls
  • Diesel Engine Lubrication Systems
  • Clutch Systems
  • Workplace Safety Skills

Students are also required to take Orientation to School and Program Policies and Employability/Transferable Skills. Students must finish each course and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0, the equivalent of a “C” grade, in order to graduate.

Student Attributes

Individuals interested in enrolling in the Diesel Technology program at the Sun Area Technical Institute should possess the following attributes:

  • A strong desire to learn.
  • A good work ethic.
  • Some knowledge in General Sciences.
  • Some knowledge in Mechanical Drawing.
  • Some knowledge in Basic Math.
  • Some knowledge in Business Math.
  • Some knowledge in Technical Math.
  • A basic understanding of electrical/electronic systems.
  • A basic understanding of computers.

Students should also possess a certain degree of mechanical aptitude.

From Education to Occupation

Students who finish the Diesel Technology program at the Sun Area Technical Institute will be prepared to take and pass the ASE Certification exams and pursue entry-level employment as qualified truck technicians, power generation technicians, heavy equipment technicians, marine technicians, service managers, parts specialists, and/or service garage owners.

As the diesel industry continues to grow rapidly, job opportunities for qualified diesel mechanics is expected to increase 11% by the year 2020, as fast as average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean annual wage for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists working in the United States in 2014 was $45,160, while the mean salary for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists employed in the state of Pennsylvania was $42,770 yearly and $20.56 hourly, just 6% lower than the national average.

The Two-Year Certificate of Vocational Studies

The Sun Area Technical Institute offers a two-year Certificate of Vocational Studies in Diesel Technology. This program is only available to high school students. 


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