Alex Keenan | Fleet Maintenance
WyoTech expansion

Exclusive look at WyoTech's expansion

Dec. 1, 2022
The Laramie, Wyoming-based diesel and automotive school recently unveiled its 90,000-sq.-ft. expansion, which also includes new equipment for its students.

The commercial vehicle industry is more than aware of its technician shortage, with grim statistics detailing too many open jobs to fill and a large percentage of technicians experiencing job burnout. With 65% of fleets and independent shops reporting that hiring is "difficult" in Fullbay’s 2022 State of Heavy-Duty Repair Industry Report, it's clear that adding technicians to the hiring pool must be a top priority.

Luckily, at automotive and diesel vocational school WyoTech, enrollment statistics have increased at a staggering rate, necessitating facility expansions like the one unveiled this past month.

On Nov. 19, 2022, WyoTech held a ribbon cutting and open house for its 90,000-sq.-ft. expansion to its Laramie, Wyoming, campus. The project, which cost $16 million, will allow the school to increase its capacity to 1,200 students and includes eight new classrooms with 44 students per room. But the bulk of the new facility is the Dave Kuhn Training Facility shop space, which was named for the school's current director of facilities who spearheaded the project's execution. Open-house attendees could explore while current students explained the tools and subjects associated with each of the school’s six specialty programs: Street Rod, High-Performance Power Trains, Applied Service Management, Chassis Fabrication, Advanced Diesel, and Trim and Upholstery.

“We can talk about the trucker shortage and how we don't have the people to drive the goods,” said Brad Enzi, president and CEO of the Laramie Chambers Business Alliance, in recognition of the role WyoTech plays in the industry at the ribbon cutting. “But if we don't have the kids from this school, graduating with the education that they have, able to service those trucks, the truckers don't have anything to drive.”

See also: What female vehicle repair students want from future employers

“This entire expansion is totally devoted to the automotive program,” said Shawn Nunley, vice president of training, WyoTech. “What this allowed us to do is bring in more population into the school. But this building was [also] dedicated to the automotive industry instead of [putting it] in another building that was not designed for it. We're able to put the equipment that we really wanted and needed here and also upgrade all the equipment.”

The expansion features racks throughout the space, 38 two-post lifts, TV stations, rail systems for ventilation, and various classroom spaces and vehicle components contributed to by local and national trucking companies such as Penske Truck Leasing, Torgersen Equipment, CNB, and The Volvo Group.

The new additions will serve the unprecedented growth the school has experienced since the organization’s current president and CEO, Jim Mathis, purchased the institution in 2018. In the four years since the school’s student body has grown 6,817%.

“We started with 12 students,” Mathis said. “And they were only there for 90 days because they had already graduated. And we talked them into taking one more elective, which is three months. [Then] we recruited 25 new students [for] nine months in October. And it has just continually grown since then.”

However, WyoTech does not expect that its growth is anywhere near finished. Cindy Barlow, WyoTech’s director of industry outreach, said that Mathis had purchased 72 acres just south of the Laramie campus for further expansion.

“We have a goal of having 10,000 students by 2030,” Barlow said. “So, we're going to need the space to grow into. But we also want to grow smart.”

For WyoTech, that means ensuring that its student body has a place to stay before expanding its educational offerings. As such, the institution anticipates that its next expansion will include more student dormitories before adding more shop and classroom space. But once more student housing is complete, Barlow stated that the school opens to construct nine more shops.

Regardless of how the school continues to develop, WyoTech’s continued growth will further ease the technician shortage constraining commercial vehicle maintenance, truly making expansions like this one something to celebrate.

About the Author

Alex Keenan

Alex Keenan is an Associate Editor for Fleet Maintenance magazine. She has written on a variety of topics for the past several years and recently joined the transportation industry, reviewing content covering technician challenges and breaking industry news. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

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