There are several reasons why the Questar III Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance (HEOM) program is so popular with students. First, this field offers excellent employment opportunities for students immediately upon completion of this program and second, the expertise, field experience and important technical skills that their highly qualified instructors are passing along to these students will put them on a solid pathway to a successful career.
At the Durham site (formerly Durham Elementary School), the program is co-taught by Mr. Chris Ray and Mr. Edwin Frank. Ray is starting his third year at Questar III, after a career including employment at Finke Equipment, Rock-It Enterprise, Trec Management, and continued employment at Windham Mountain Resort. A graduate of Cairo-Durham High School and the Questar III Automotive Technologies program, he came “back home” after completing All Star Trucking School. Ray says he’s glad to be back with his students in-person this year.
“The best part of working with them is seeing the progress they have already made in such a short time. Each student was very shy in the beginning, but now they all seem very comfortable here and they are progressing extremely well and fast. I am eager to see how the rest of the year continues to grow for everyone.”
This year, Ray is joined by Mr. Edwin Frank, a new co-teacher in this program. After a career with A. Duie Pyle, Delhaize America Transportation, Matthews Buses, the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) and his own business, Frank brings a diverse range of experience including diesel mechanics specializing in electronic control and computer skills such as AutoCAD, Excel and Core Graphics. Frank is also continuing is own education towards a BA in Operations Management and then a master’s degree in education. He says his new career is already rewarding.
“Making the switch to education has been one of the best choices in my life. The desire of these students to learn is amazing. Being able to provide them with the experience and knowledge I have gained over the years is just priceless. I cannot teach them everything I have learned in two short years, however I can give them a solid foundation, the ability to understand the various systems and the knowledge of how to find answers. Without a doubt, my favorite part of the job is engaging students, regardless of the subject matter.”
Also new to Questar III this year is Mr. Aaron Matthews, the HEOM instructor at Rensselaer Educational Center. He is in his 36th year in the business, and it’s one that runs in the family. Matthews’ father worked for the Greene County Highway Department and his grandfather worked for Peckham Industries.
Matthews started out working on equipment for the family dairy farm, went into private business with his dad and then started his own family business working on projects such as excavation, pouring foundations and land clearing. He worked for Rifenburg Construction, and most recently with Landcaster Development on the flyover bridge project going to the Albany International Airport as well as Exits 3 & 4 on the Northway.
Matthews says he wanted to work in education to help grow the industry he’s been part of for so long.
“Companies don’t have the time to teach younger employees entering the field, and all parts of the industry are lacking in new employees. I’m enjoying working with both my senior and junior classes who are eager to learn, participating well and working very hard. I am looking forward to seeing these students graduate and being able to go right into jobs in the industry.”
In addition to all the academic and hands-on training HEOM students will be receiving from these knowledgeable and experienced teachers, this year’s juniors will also be one of the classes having the opportunity to participate in the new Questar III Youth Apprentice Program, to offer them further advantages for academic and on-the-job training, as well as a pathway to a successful future.