This fall Northwest Iowa Community College became an official Snap-on Tool educational partner. What exactly does that mean? The biggest difference you will see in NCC’s Transportation Programs is every student will have access to a new tool box full of new, high quality Snap-on tools from day one of their first semester. This will let the student start their education without the large expense of buying the tools themselves right before school starts. Also, all of the technology in the labs will be updated twice a year to the most current available.
Steve Waldstein, Dean of Applied Technology, stated, “On the face of it, I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal if you are not in the industry, but one technology update could change 95,000 different codes. It is essential that our students are taught on the most up-to-date technology we can provide.”
The tool program is not the only benefit this partnership provides to the students. NCC students will now have the opportunity to earn nationally recognized Snap-on certificates through the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). According to the NC3 website, “NC3 certifications are designed to be integrated into an existing technical program to enhance what was already being taught. By integrating industry certifications into an academic course it combines the best of both worlds by upskilling the teacher, providing the professional development technical educators look for, and providing students with more opportunities and relevant job-ready skills.”
All of NCC’s instructors are currently in the process of being trained in the NC3 curriculum so they can provide this training to NCC’s students. National certifications will be available in: Transportation, Automotive Diagnostics, Precision Measuring Instruments, Torque Fundamentals, Wheel Service & Alignment, Battery Starting and Charging, Multimeter, Diesel Diagnostics, Off-Road Diesel Technologies and Tool Safety.
This partnership journey started three years ago during the College’s strategic planning process. One of the strategies identified for completion in 2020 was the recognition of specific barriers that students face in order to attain a quality, accessible education. The goal was to develop solutions to those barriers. One of the barriers identified was the large, up-front cost of tools within the transportation programs. On average, students needed to buy about $5,000–$6,000 worth of tools just to start the program. Since Federal and State financial aid money cannot be used for tool purchases, the students had a large outlaying of money at the beginning of their education. “Many times, students just couldn’t afford that large of an outlay of cash at the beginning of the school year, and couldn’t find financing, so they would drop the program. It was frustrating, and at times heartbreaking, because we just couldn’t figure out a way for some students to get over that financial hurdle,” explained Waldstein. “We don’t want to turn away any student because they can’t afford the tools to get started in their careers.”
After looking for alternative funding sources and doing a lot of research, a group of NCC representatives decided to travel to Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Waldstein explained, “We had discovered that they had an educational partnership with Snap-on Tools, and we wanted to see exactly how it worked — to see the big picture. We wanted to talk to the college’s administration and faculty, and most importantly, talk to their students to get a feel for how the partnership was working.” Waldstein continued, “What we saw was an amazing partnership. The learning environments they had created were organized for optimal learning, the students were being taught on state-of-the-art technology, and the check-out tool boxes worked well. It was really exciting to talk to everyone and especially to hear the students’ stories of success. I think all of the NCC representatives saw a huge potential for NCC, its students, and for all of Northwest Iowa.”
What is in a Snap-on Classroom?
- Tool Boxes
- 19 Challenger EV1020 in-ground hoists that have a 10,000 pound lifting capacity
- 4 Challenger EV1220 in-ground hoists that have a 12,000 pound lifting capacity.
- Tire Changers
- Alignment Racks
- Parts Room — Organization and Shelving
- Classroom — Desks and Seating
- Smart Classroom Design — a car can be driven into the classroom and the instructor can put it on a hoist and use new instructional video technology to make sure everyone in the classroom can see what he is doing from every angle.
- NC3 Curriculum for national certifications
Students will pay an equipment fee each semester. When they successfully complete the program they receive a brand new Snap-on toolbox with approximately $5,000 worth of new tools. They also have the option of buying more tools at that time at a significantly reduced cost. The semester equipment fee covers not only their walk-away set of tools and toolbox at graduation, but also all their equipment usage during their years of schooling at NCC. Students cannot opt out, but if they do not graduate or complete, they can pay the balance of what they would owe in order to purchase their tool box. Diesel Technology students’ tools will be handled similarly beginning in the fall of 2020.
Waldstein commented, “Nationwide there are Snap-on Tool partner schools, but very few at this level of partnership. There are no others in the state of Iowa that I’m aware of. The timing was perfect for us. We just passed the General Obligation Bond to remodel the space used by these programs, so NCC had the money to invest in the infrastructure to get this partnership off the ground in the right way. It was the right time and Snap-on was the right partner.”
Snap-on National Education Partnerships Manager, Earl Bailey said, “Northwest Iowa Community College has long championed a progressive vision of the role technical education can play in critical American industries. NCC’s investment in Snap-on tools, custom tool storage, garage equipment, and Snap-on product certification programs gives area students and industry a path forward to making this vision a reality. Snap-on is proud to be counted as a partner of Northwest Iowa Community College. We look forward to providing NCC, its students, and industry in Northwest Iowa with the tools and skills needed for technical and industrial leadership.”
Waldstein finished the interview with a story from this summer’s Transportation orientation. “I had a mother of a student come up to me in tears after the session in which I had explained the new partnership. She said the tool program had taken a huge burden off their family. They were unsure where they were going to find the money for their son’s tool purchase. If they somehow found the money, there wasn’t any way they were going to be able to afford such nice quality tools as Snap-on. Now she knew her son could go to school, receive the education he needed, and get the quality tools he needed for his career. To help our students succeed and discover who they are meant to be — that’s why I work at NCC. I don’t want finances to ever be a barrier to a student’s career goals!”