NCC’s Heavy Equipment Operation & Maintenance Management Program Holds Recognition Ceremony for Graduates

Northwest Iowa Community College Heavy Equipment Operation & Maintenance Management Program held their annual Recognition Ceremony for second year students on March 4, 2021 in the Applied Technology Building.

Every year, right before NCC’s official spring break in the beginning of March, the Heavy Equipment Operation & Maintenance Management Program holds a recognition ceremony which is a pseudo graduation ceremony for students in that program. Although the timing may seem a little unconventional for this type of ceremony it actually is very strategic for the job placement of graduates.

The program is built around input from the program’s Advisory Board who recommended that since the industry starts work as soon as the ground is thawed NCC’s graduates should be ready for employment during the industry’s largest hiring window which is March. So with that in mind, NCC developed the curriculum and academic calendar of this program in order for graduates to have their studies completed in time to enter the workforce and find a job in a timely manner.

Steve Waldstein, Dean of the Applied Technology division at NCC, admits it is a little out-of-the-box for a higher education program to graduate mid-semester, “…it is done with the Advisory Committee recommendation. Most of our graduates have jobs before graduation in this program and one of the reasons for that is we listen to our industry partners. We listen to what technical skills these students need to learn, but also the best time for them to enter industry would be.”

During the ceremony Waldstein commented to the students, “I invite each of you to come back for the official graduation ceremony being held May 14, although I know many of you will be working in the field.” He continued, “This is a fantastic group of young men and they will do great things not only in the Heavy Equipment industry, but also in their personal lives. They are a hard working bunch of young men. They moved 80,000 cubic yards of material during their time working in the field. That is a lot of hands-on learning!”

Andy Jacobs, NCC Diesel Technology Program alumnus (2002) and location manager for Ziegler CAT, Sheldon, was the guest speaker for the event. Jacobs said, “You are just at the start of your life and career. You will find it is all about building relationships, opportunities, and experiences as you move forward. Opportunities you haven’t even realized yet and they come in all shapes and sizes. Even with the inevitable mistakes that will come in the future — consider them not mistakes but opportunities for you to learn and grow.” Jacobs continued, “I look forward to hearing about your opportunities and successes. It is exciting to hear about the great NCC alumni and their success stories through business partners, the community, and through alumni connections.”

Wyatt Kraft, Heavy Equipment graduate, Cherokee, IA, said, “I am really proud and happy to graduate. I already have a job lined up. I had my pick between different career routes — running dozers or cranes. I decided to work with a crane operation company.” Kraft continued, “The program at NCC was very helpful with a lot of hands-on learning in the field. Learning on simulation gives you a feel for the controls of each piece of equipment, but there is nothing like the hands-on training and being in the field moving dirt — just like in the real world.”

Heavy Equipment Operation & Maintenance Management Class of 2021:

  • Nolan Ahlden — Ashkum, IL
  • Colby Aspengren — Jefferson, IA
  • Wyatt Berns — Swisher, IA
  • Dakota Branstad — Mitchell, IA
  • Mason Christe — New London, IA
  • Keaton Heronemus — Rock Valley, IA
    Trevor Johnson — Denver, IA
  • Wyatt Kraft — Cherokee, IA
  • Saul Ortiz — Hawarden, IA
  • David Topete — Hawarden, IA
  • Ethan Van Bemmel — Orange City, IA

For more information about educational opportunities at NCC, either on campus or online, call 712-324-5061, 800-352-4907, or visit
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