A weather crisis has been turned into an educational opportunity for heavy-equipment-fixing college students in Iowa.
Three pre-production John Deere excavators and a sister Hitachi wheeled excavator model that sustained severe flood damage last June were donated to Northwest Iowa Community College for heavy-equipment operations and maintenance students to rebuild and eventually place in the field.
"The amount of water and muck and damage, especially to complex electronics, was just too much for Deere to really gain anything out of rehabbing them ourselves for resale," says Mark Tilson, John Deere product engineer. "Scrapping them seemed a shame, too. But letting students get a real-world lesson on how to rebuild them was a great way to make something good come out of the flooding."
Northwest Iowa students are managing the project from the ground up, says instructor Denny Wallace. "They had to take things apart, identify what was working, what wasn't, what needed fixing, and what needed replacing," he says. "They put together a detailed plan of repair, a timeline and a full estimate of the cost of repairs. As it is, we'll probably invest $10,000 per unit in the materials needed to do the repairs.
"Other repair jobs in their career might not seem so daunting."
"When we made the donation," says Deere's Tilson, "we pulled together a big package of all the technical documents the students would need in the maintenance shop to help them with the process of bringing these machines back to life."