Home Features Academics New, Re-Purposed and Donated Tools and Equipment are Valuable Assets for Preparing Career College Students for the Workplace
New, Re-Purposed and Donated Tools and Equipment are Valuable Assets for Preparing Career College Students for the Workplace

New, Re-Purposed and Donated Tools and Equipment are Valuable Assets for Preparing Career College Students for the Workplace


By John Willis, President, MIAT College of Technology Houston Campus

New. Gently Used. Retrofitted. Broken. Abandoned. Recovered. Purchased. Donated. These are all words that describe equipment that finds a home at a career college or vocational-technical institution.

PT 6A engine being fired up.
PT 6A engine being fired up.

To prepare students to become skilled workers and satisfy the demands of their future employers, career school leaders must ensure that their students have access to a wide variety of resources and assets: instructors, a program of study that addresses the current requirements of the workplace, technology, books, and the types of tools and equipment that they will encounter in the field once they are employed are some of many.

The shop or hangar area is a real-world lab for students that mirrors, as much as possible, the environment that students will be experiencing daily once they graduate and begin earning a salary in their area of specialization.

Grateful for donations

Career schools are especially grateful to individuals, corporations, non-profit organizations and industry associations that choose to donate new or used equipment for their students.

When equipment is donated to a non-profit career college or vocational-technical school, then the donor can receive a tax benefit for that donation. When a donation is made to a proprietary college, then the donor is likely to consider the value of the tools or equipment donated as a marketing expense or a community relations commitment. Regardless, all parties emerge winners in the transaction.

Welding Technology program
MIAT College of Technology Houston campus leaders purchased new welding equipment for its Welding Technology program that launched in early 2019.

Check out this excerpt from an article in Repairer Driven News posted May 14, 2018, about a donation of a rare set of automotive body shop tools for the benefit of a vo-tech school in Florida.

“A former collision repairer’s recent generosity to a Florida vo-tech school is the kind of assistance educators need from the industry, according to the Collision Repair Education Foundation.

“The tools retiree Joe Lane donated to Lake Technical College are a rare treat for a vo-tech school — but a highly needed one, CREF development director Brandon Eckenrode said in April.

“Lane said he’d kept the toolbox around unused for a while but ultimately concluded the toolbox was ‘too damn big.’

“We kind of needed to get rid of it for the room, he said.

“He said he tried to sell the set on Craigslist, but that marketplace is saturated with tools and he never found any takers. His wife, Donna, suggested donating it to a local tech school, and Lane said he figured “somebody starting out could use it.” (Source: RepairerDrivenNews.com, article by John Huetter)

Donations of equipment and tools are well received by leaders, faculty, staff and students for many reasons: Acquisition costs are lessened for the school; instructors appreciate access to these assets; and students have the opportunity to get their eyes and hands on useful items that will help them do their jobs effectively once they complete their certificate or degree program.

The Houston campus of MIAT College of Technology has had the great fortune of being the recipient of several gifts that are making a positive impact on the learning experience for students. Here are a few of many examples of donations for which MIAT is extremely grateful:

  • The Lone Star Flight Museum, located at Ellington Airport in Houston, has donated a replica biplane that had been destroyed by floodwaters at the museum’s previous location on Galveston Island. This open-cockpit plane was previously owned by Gene Kranz, NASA flight director during the Apollo era who is famous for the phrase “Failure is not an option.”
  • Siemens has donated a climbing tower that is used as part of a “climb test” for MIAT’s Wind Energy Technician Program. Siemens has actively recruited and employed MIAT graduates.
  • Daikin Comfort Solutions has donated several commercial air conditioning units for MIAT’s Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) technician program. Daikin also recruits and hires MIAT graduates.

The necessity for purchasing new or damaged equipment

Career colleges must be prepared to purchase new or damaged equipment so that their students can gain hands-on experience that will ensure they are qualified for the jobs they are seeking.

Airplane donated by the Lone Star Flight Museum
Airplane donated by the Lone Star Flight Museum previously owned by Gene Kranz, NASA flight director during Apollo missions.

For example, when the Houston campus of MIAT launched the new Welding Technology certificate program several months ago, procuring state of the industry welding units was essential. MIAT installed 29 new welding booths for use in day and night classes. Welding Technology program enrollment has steadily increased, and students can learn the basics through certificate programs that range from three to nine months in duration.

Another example is the purchase of a wind turbine at a significant six-figure cost. Because the exterior of the wind turbine had been damaged while being transported on a freight train, MIAT was able to acquire it for a fraction of the cost of a wind turbine that would have been in perfect condition after leaving the manufacturer’s production plant.

The key to acquiring damaged equipment is managing costs and determining repairs that can be made if the item fills a certain need. When MIAT needed another pressurization system, the cost of a new aircraft was prohibitive. Even a used aircraft stretched resources. Through the due diligence of our faculty, we identified an aircraft that was well below market value due to mechanical failures. The aircraft was forced into an emergency landing due to engine failure and suffered sheet metal damage. The aircraft was in a remote part of Mississippi. The “catch” to purchasing this aircraft was that we had to pick it up ourselves. Fortunately, MIAT’s Director of Training was up to the task. In addition to acquiring an aircraft with the needed system, we also secured an item that was used for sheet metal and engine repairs. This damaged airplane gave students a real-world hands-on problem to solve.

The right stuff

Commercial air conditioning equipment
Commercial air conditioning equipment donated by Daikin Comfort Systems, Carrier and other companies.

From the earliest of ages, starting school with “the right stuff” tends to make everyone feel better. Students are more confident, ready to learn, and empowered to get results. Career colleges and vocational institutions know this. Administrators and leaders must continually assess their equipment and determine gaps that need to be addressed. Then they must develop clear acquisition strategies. Although it is not always easy, career schools can secure equipment that proves valuable to ensuring that their students gain the experience that they need to succeed. “The right stuff” that leads to acquiring more of “the right stuff” includes careful planning, effective networking, and some measure of luck!

John Willis

JOHN WILLIS  is the President of MIAT College of Technology-Texas. The campus is in Houston. Willis also has more than 20 years of leadership experience in career education and training for colleges and institutions in Arizona, Kansas and Texas. He has served in the roles of president, dean, and faculty member.

Willis is a member of the MIAT board of directors.

Contact Information: John Willis // MIAT College of Technology Houston // President // 888-547-7047 // jwillis@miat.edu // www.miat.edu // Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MIATConnection/; https://www.facebook.com/MIATConnection2/ // Twitter: @miatcollege // LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/school/michigan-institute-of-aviation-and-technology/ //Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/8519021/miat-college-of-technology-canton-mi-campus/?hl=en


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *