20-Year-Old Operator/Instructor Trains Newcomers

September 14, 2020
Dawson and her family.
Dawson and her family.

When Dawson Vanderwiele walks into a heavy equipment operator training class at Baker Technical Institute in Oregon, not many students suspect that she’s the instructor. After all, in addition to teaching groups of mostly male students, she’s only 20 years old.

What the students might not understand is that Vanderwiele has grown up around heavy equipment. Her father, uncle, and grandfather own Triple C Redi-Mix in Baker City, Oregon. Dawson also taught young female inmates during a special two-week program. She said it’s her favorite class so far and hopes the skills learned will help them land jobs once they’re released from prison.

“The women’s results were great,” Dawson said. “I think that going into the class, they had a lot of self-doubt, but they figured it out. Next thing you know, they were helping each other pass different exercises. They had an attention to detail and patience, which is great for operating. I set goals and every single woman passed all 20 exercises.” 

Dawson’s first recollection of operating equipment was at her 10th birthday, when she hopped up on an excavator to pile up some brush. Since then, she’s been operating the company’s equipment and truck fleet when needed by the family business. The company owns Hitachi, Case, Caterpillar, and Komatsu machines along with a fleet of 20 Mack trucks. Triple C Redi-Mix offers ready-mix, gravel and excavation services to local contractors, government agencies, businesses and homeowners in the Baker area.

Source: Hitachi's Breakout magazine & Conexpo-Con/Agg