HOLLAND — Recent Zeeland West graduate Adam Leeuw credits the Careerline Tech Center for helping him learn so much through two years of the Diesel/Heavy Equipment Mechanics program at CTC.
Leeuw put that learning to the test last month, competing in the Diesel Equipment Technology competition at the 2021 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Virtual Conference.
More than 20 students across the country competed after excelling at state-level competitions, but Leeuw came out on top, winning the competition’s gold medal.
“I was honestly a little surprised,” Leeuw said of hearing his name announced. “I had won state, but this was going up against everyone else that won their state. The way they read it off, third place then second place, I thought ‘there’s no way.’ Then they said my name. It’s still kind of hard to comprehend.”
The competition consisted of nine stations including a written test, a virtual job interview, drive axle and brakes for semis, transmissions, hydraulics, operator environment, failure analysis, live engine and vehicle inspection.
Other than the written test and interview, each station required competitors to analyze, diagnose and/or repair different aspects of trucks and heavy equipment.
“It was quite a bit of stuff,” Leeuw said. “The one I was nervous about was the one with the live engine. I was a little nervous just to see what that entailed, but when I was done I felt pretty confident.”
Leeuw added that he wasn’t a fan of the job interview station due to the format — students had to record videos of themselves answering written questions rather than a live interview — but felt good about the other eight areas.
This summer, Leeuw started working for Caterpillar (CAT) through a scholarship and internship program. He will attend Owens Community College in Ohio where he’ll alternate between eight weeks of school and eight weeks of full-time work.
“After I do my schooling for two years, I’ll be a full-time technician at CAT,” he said.
Leeuw said he’s interested in all areas of the field and he’d prefer to work with heavy equipment more than semis. He thanked the CTC and its instructors for the role they played in his education.
“I have to give pretty much almost all of the credit to the Careerline Tech Center,” he said. ““It’s amazing how much I’ve learned at the Tech Center. It says a lot about a program when almost every year they have a student win or place very well in state or national competitions. I learned so much and would recommend Tech to anyone.”
Staff at the CTC spoke highly of Leeuw’s passion and dedication for the field.
“Adam came into Tech after the school year was finished to continue to work with me and prepare for the national competition,” stated instructor Jason Alberda. “He takes his education seriously and it shows.”