Machine technician inspires young women
Irving—Elizabeth Cardenas, 18, is a senior at Dubiski High School in Grand Prairie, Texas. Three days a week, she is also a tech intern at HOLT CAT Irving. She is bussed to the business with other classmates on the applied agricultural engineering pathway at Dubiski.
Despite the high pay and benefits that a career in heavy equipment can provide, it’s not a top career choice for graduating high schoolers, and particularly not for women. HOLT CAT, a leader in the heavy equipment industry, aims to change that.
Elizabeth’s day-to-day looks the same as a full-time technician, repairing and maintaining engines and other machines, but with a mentor nearby. She hopes once she graduates in May, she will be hired full-time to make repairs in the hydraulics shop.
“I like hydraulics because the stakes are high. When putting something back together again, each piece is critical. One mistake could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the machine. I like working under that kind of pressure,” she said.
Elizabeth has been interested in repairing machines since she was 9 years old. Her father runs a small tow truck business and passed down a love for tinkering.
Robbie Tedder, service manager at HOLT CAT and Elizabeth’s supervisor, remembers when he was in her shoes, 46 years ago.
“I started at HOLT CAT the day after I graduated from Nimitz High School and have been here since,” Tedder said.
Elizabeth enjoyed the internship so much that she recruited two of her female friends at school to apply.
In addition to getting paid up to $12.50/hr while in school, interns graduate high school with the basic skills in the heavy equipment industry required to join the workforce as entry-level technicians and, in most cases, a job offer from HOLT CAT.
The diesel tech industry is facing a major need to attract over 177,000 new professionals across the country within the next five years. This is crucial to meet increasing demand and replace the wave of retiring technicians. However, only 10,699 students completed postsecondary training programs in diesel technology in 2021. HOLT CAT’s unique internship program has created a pipeline for technicians to solve this problem that can serve as a model for other trade employers.
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