A Constructive Conversation with Professor Louis Teel


James Peru, Cactus Editor

If you have ever noticed the tractors rumbling along the dirt roads behind the Signal Peak Campus, and wondered who is driving them, and what they are doing, then you are not alone. Many people, myself included, probably assumed that they belong to a contractor, and that the college is undergoing expansion and renovation. However, the fact of the matter is that these tractors actually belong to the college, and the people operating them are students; now that is what I call lessons from beyond the classroom!

For this edition, I had the privilege of speaking with Professor Louis Teel, who, along with Professor James Busch, makes up the Heavy Equipment Operating Program of Central Arizona College.

Competency based like education is how Professor Teel describes the student curriculum for this program. “After the students go through the Core Curriculum class and three levels of Heavy Equipment Operating for the course, us instructors have to physically watch them perform certain tasks to complete their performance profile sheets,” says Professor Teel when describing the way the course operates.

This type of education is truly hands on. With the risks involved when working with heavy machinery, it is not enough just to know that the students have mentally grasped the subject. The tractors that can be seen driving around are essentially rolling classrooms, where students put what they’ve learned to the test.

“I can tell them how to do certain things-how to perform certain operations on a Backhoe or a Front-End Loader- and they might understand the theory of it, but once they actually get out on the equipment to start moving material, it’s a whole different ball game,” Professor Teel elaborates. “Once they get out onto the equipment and start to put their hands on it, then things start to fit together.”
This graduating class will also be the first to receive their National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) cards. This card, which is essentially an online transcript that holds all of the NCCER accredited courses completed by each student, will follow them wherever they seek employment throughout the world. CAC is one of the only NCCER accredited Heavy Equipment Operator training colleges in the state.

With ground being broken for the new 585-acre commerce center, Phoenix Mart, here in Casa Grande, construction and construction related jobs will be in high demand. According to Professor Teel, companies involved in the building of Phoenix Mart have already begun calling the college in search of heavy equipment operators.

Not only will the site itself require an influx of construction related jobs, but it will also usher in several new employment positions, which will in turn require the building of new homes and establishments to account for the rise in population. With CAC being one of the few schools accredited by the NCCER, and with the opportunity for construction and construction related jobs in the area poised to sky-rocket, here and now seems like a great place to be for anyone seeking employment in heavy equipment operation.