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PCC and Caterpillar kick off ThinkBIG program

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Community College and five dealers of international heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar are thinking big.

They will officially kick-off their education and training partnership with a celebration of the inaugural student class of its Northwest ThinkBIG program. The ceremony will start at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 29 in Room 105 of Building 2 at the PCC Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road) in western Washington County.

The Caterpillar dealers have recruited 25 qualified applicants for the PCC Caterpillar Dealer Service Technician Program (ThinkBIG). Students are enrolled in PCC and will start their training this month. The Caterpillar Dealer Service Technician Program, ThinkBIG, is two years of college. It combines academic and technical education with real world experience through paid on-the-job internships in participating dealers’ service facilities.

The classes will provide them with a well-rounded knowledge of Caterpillar equipment and its high-tech systems. Each college term is followed by an internship term with a Caterpillar dealer, where they will be making money while practicing their newly learned skills. Part of the arrangement calls for contributions to the PCC Foundation each year from Caterpillar.

“I think this is a fantastic example of how PCC can better meet the needs of the greater community by partnering with businesses like Caterpillar,” said Stuart Savin, dean of PCC’s Math and Manufacturing Division. “It’s also a great example of the confidence Caterpillar has in PCC to provide them with potential future employees.”

This partnership will give the Dealer Service Technology program at Rock Creek the opportunity to train students from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho as Caterpillar technicians. PCC is the first college in the Northwest to host the company’s ThinkBIG program. Students who go through the program will earn 101 credits and learn about electronics, hydraulics, power train, systems diagnostic testing, and more. In addition, they will get general education classes such as English, speech, mathematics and social science, leading to an associate’s degree in applied science.

“The partnership grew from a strong business and industry connection from our Diesel Service Technology program at Rock Creek,” Savin added.

According to Caterpillar, results indicate that graduates from these two-year programs are performing at a level equivalent to what has taken six to seven years to accomplish through general programs and on-the-job experience. In May, ThinkBIG has graduated 780 technicians nationwide and the next year they plan to graduate 300 more.

Local Caterpillar dealer Halton Co. in Portland, with a long-time connection to the PCC Diesel Technology program, provided the impetus. Other participating dealers include: Peterson Machinery Co. (Eugene); NC Machinery (Seattle Wash.); Tractor and Equipment (Billings, Mont.); and Western States Equipment Company (Boise, Idaho).

ThinkBIG is designed for adaptation by company dealers and colleges throughout the world. With the addition of PCC, the Caterpillar ThinkBig network consists of 14 colleges; 10 in the United States, and one each in Canada, Chile, Peru and Ecuador.

For more information, call 503-614-7294.


Halton Co. is proud of the contributions we’ve made to the people and businesses of the Pacific Northwest. As the Caterpillar dealer for Oregon and Southwest Washington, Halton Co. has provided the community with superior Caterpillar products for over 65 years. Their products touch every member of the community: from food on the table to the roof over their head, from the roads people drive on to the stores where they shop, from the local hospital to the cell phone, and more. They have sold, serviced, rented and leased all types of Heavy and Compact Equipment, Engines, and Electric Power. And as time progresses, they increasingly find themselves maintaining and managing customers’ individual units and fleets.

For more than 80 years, Caterpillar Inc. has been building the world’s infrastructure and, in partnership with its worldwide dealer network, is driving positive and sustainable change on every continent. With 2005 sales and revenues of $36.34 billion, Caterpillar is a technology leader and the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines.

2005 sales and revenues of $36.34 billion were up $6.03 billion, or 20 percent, from 2004. The increase was a result of $3.72 billion of higher sales volume, $1.827 billion of improved price realization and a $363 million increase in Financial Products revenues. Approximately half of all sales were to customers outside of the United States, maintaining Caterpillar’s position as a global supplier and leading U.S. exporter. More information is available at

Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving approximately 91,000 full- and part-time students. For more PCC news, please visit us on the Web at PCC has three comprehensive campuses, five workforce training and education centers, and 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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