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MCI boosts training schedule for 2009

As more than a few technicians and operators have been disappointed to find out, MCI's Technical Tune-Up seminars have become so popular, they are fully booked months in advance. The good news is that MCI will boost its training schedule for 2009, adding to Louisville Tune-Up opportunities, adding regional events and doubling the amount of available informational Webinars.

New advanced Technical Tune Up session announced

In addition to the four Technical Tune-Up sessions already on the calendar for 2009, MCI will offer an advanced training class later in the year, according to Scott Crawford, technical training manager. The dates, location and specific curriculum have yet to be determined, says Crawford, but the classes will be tailored to advancing the knowledge of experienced technicians. "We've been getting nothing but rave reviews for our regular Technical Tune-Ups," says Crawford. "A lot of people have been additionally asking for advanced, hands-on training. We'll give this one a difficulty level they'll be happy with."

Crawford emphasizes that the regular Technical Tune-Ups will see some changes as well. Sessions for 2009 will feature all-new modules covering Electronic Stability Control, Ricon wheelchair lifts, E, J and D suspension and kneeling systems, steering and ABS braking. Some modules will enjoy more in-depth coverage, including those on Proheat, multiplexing and A/C systems. MCI will continue to offer free EPA A/C certification testing sessions. The dates for 2009 Technical Tune Ups are February 17–20, April 14-17, September 22–25 and November 3–6.

As always, the Technical Tune Ups will be offered free of charge to MCI customers. Attendees are responsible for transportation to Louisville, Kentucky; lodging and some meals. Crawford also notes that MCI is working with a new motel that opened in May 2008 that should please discerning guests.

Track record

So far, more than 560 technicians and associates have attended MCI's Technical Tune Ups in Louisville since their inception.

Rob Gombas, lead technician for Cornell University Transportation, Ithaca, New York, attended in October. "I've been a mechanic for 20 years, and I wasn't sure what to expect," says Gombas, who said he'd rate the Tune-Up a 9 on a 10-point scale. "They covered everything from the basics to more complicated systems. It was especially valuable to get a better handle on the multiplexing." Gombas said he learned from his fellow attendees as well as from the instructors. "You're surrounded by people all in the same field. You share stories, and that leads to new questions and answers."

Shannon Zurowski-Twan, assistant maintenance manager at Saskatchewan Transportation Co. (STC), came all the way from Saskatoon to attend the November session. Coming more from the parts side of the business, the hands-on sessions were anything but routine, but she made it through. "The instructors were awesome," says Zurowski-Twan, who also notes she was the only woman among 54 men. "I wanted to learn some things that might be helpful and be able to help our techs do their jobs better. It was intense, but I liked everything about it. I did take apart a Proheat with a partner, and I did pretty well. I think it's something all techs should attend."

Indeed, several of the STC's technicians have attended. Kelly Henderson was there in September. "It was really good — about the best I've ever been to," says Henderson. "The instructors managed to touch on just about everything you need to know. One of the big things was to be with the other mechanics — they're the ones who can teach you new tricks."

Bill Pierson, shop foreman at Premier Highway Services, in Anchorage, Alaska, came a long way to take the Tech Tune-Up training. "Any day you can get out of Alaska is good," jokes Pierson, who swears he nevertheless loves his state. "I have nothing but great things to say about the Louisville classes. It was the expertise level of the instructors, who are senior people who have been around for a long time; the classrooms, which are large and clean; and good training aids. It was also good to meet people in the same shoes."

Pierson, a 20-plus-year technician whose company does much of its work for Premier Alaska Tours, says the seminar even helped him change his mind about a few things. "I don't care how seasoned you are — you can always learn something new. I didn't think SmarTire fit us, but now I see the value. It kind of turned me around."

Pierson also had high praise for the training team. "The instructors really complement each other. It's a very cohesive group, and I felt very taken care of."

Regional Training

Technicians won't necessarily have to go to Louisville in 2009 to take advantage of all MCI training opportunities. As part of a "Customer First" program, MCI will be conducting two-hour technical training sessions at locations around the U.S. and Canada. So far, about 10 are planned.

Brief Intensive Training available

MCI's Product Support Specialists continue to offer Brief Intensive Training to MCI customers. These module-based, presentation-style lessons are ideal for operators looking to buff up their knowledge of specific systems and for new MCI customers. To learn more about the training, contact your Product Support Specialist.

Other options

Operators can also opt for customized, multi-day, hands-on training for technicians at their own sites for a reasonable fee.

Look forward to more Webinars

Crawford says 2009 will bring additional informational Webinars — two to three a month. The Webinars, which were recently honored with the Grand Prize award in the 29th Annual AdWheel Award competition by the American Public Transportation Association, are free of charge to customers and offer detailed knowledge on specific systems. MCI is also looking into ways of archiving the broadcasts for on-demand access by customers.

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