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WyoTech highlights professionalism, community to increase technician placement

March 1, 2024
WyoTech’s graduating classes have continued to grow since the school came under new ownership in 2018, a feat WyoTech President Kyle Morris attributes to professionalism and dedication.

Four months after WyoTech’s new president, Kyle Morris, took the reins from owner and CEO Jim Mathis, the Laramie, Wyoming-based auto, diesel, and collision trade school reported both strong graduation numbers and job placement for their students. Their secret? A dedication to excellence and community, according to both Morris and recent grads.

“With WyoTech, you get out of it what you put into it,” said Colin Evridge, a 20-year-old WyoTech graduate who now works as a mobile service tech in Colorado for Altec. “There are a lot of kids who would scrape by getting the bare minimum grades and calling that good. But those companies love to see those good grades and [professionalism], and that paired with WyoTech’s job placement program is really phenomenal.”

According to an October report WyoTech submitted to the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, a non-profit that offers national accreditation to private institutions, WyoTech’s graduation rate grew from 78% in 2018 to 85% in 2023. This equates to 487 graduating students in 2018 to 804 five years later.

The school also reported equally strong graduation rates in specific segments. In 2023, WyoTech’s advanced diesel program boasted a graduation rate of 83%, while its diesel technology and management rate was higher at 94%.

Numbers like those are encouraging in comparison to overall diesel program completions, which have dropped by roughly 2,000 since 2017, according to the TechForce Foundation's 2023 report. Morris attributes WyoTech’s ability to see students through to the school’s culture and community building. This ranges from almost nightly after-class activities to local ski trips.

“Our students are coming into Laramie, Wyoming, and we're helping them adopt that as their community, meet people, and make connections,” Morris explained. “And those connections are huge. The connections in the classroom with the instructors, the connections in the communitywe’re facilitating that in multiple ways.”

For Evridge, the connections he made with his instructors and WyoTech’s administrative staff made all the difference, with the 20-year-old giving kudos to his transmission and driveline instructor and Coty Johnson, WyoTech’s student services coordinator.

Read more: Scholarships to jump-start vehicle repair careers

“[Coty] made it really easy to get a hold of living in Laramie,” Evridge recalled. “Everybody called her their ‘school mom.’ She checked on you. She would cook lunch for kids, and if you didn’t have food, she’d make sure your pantry was stocked.”

WyoTech and job placement

However, ensuring students reach graduation isn’t WyoTech’s only key performance indicator. Making sure they enter the workforce smoothly is paramount, and the school’s quarterly career fairs are the perfect place to introduce students to prospective employers. Morris noted they’ll often have 100 or more employers visit the school to recruit WyoTech students, enough so that they often close company signups the same day they open. The career fairs also are where prospective employers can see WyoTech’s students don’t just have the technical skills to join them, but the soft ones as well.

“The [professional] standards are one of the big separators,” Morris emphasized. “Those employers are seeing when our students come out of here, they show up for work, they've got passion, they've got work ethic, they've got those intangibles that are going to carry them further than just knowing the base-level skills or having the base-level certifications.”

The career fair helped connect Evridge to his current job as a mobile service tech for Altec in western Colorado. He first learned about the company when Altec traveled out to WyoTech before the career fair to introduce themselves to the students. Then, despite Evridge’s determination not to work for a company that didn’t handle engines, his meeting with John Dickmeyer, Altec’s regional service manager, during the fair changed his mind and led to his current career.

Part of the reason Altec sought Evridge out was due to his grades and performance at WyoTech, again reinforcing Morris’ belief that his students’ success comes down to accountability and professionalism.

“Some people may think that's counterintuitive, that if you hold people accountable and you have high standards, you might chase people off and have fewer people graduate because they can't hit those standards,” Morris noted. But by ensuring that students know what’s expected of them from the beginning and can stick to it, WyoTech’s industry employers know the caliber of technicians they’re getting.

“Our employers are telling us that that makes a difference when they know that a student's been willing to hold themselves to a higher standard for nine months to a year,” Morris concluded.

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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