In Post Secondary & Career Success

Waste Management recently donated retired equipment valued at more than $30,000 to help students in The Immokalee Foundation’s Heavy Equipment Service Technician program at Immokalee Technical College get valuable hands-on experience.

Students in the HEST program will work on the donated 2005 Isuzu satellite rear load truck, three Mack E7 engines, and a transmission during the two-year post-secondary program.

“We’ll be working on overhauling the transmission and building skills with the truck engines,” said iTECH’s HEST supervisor, Mike Tierney. “We’re very grateful for the Waste Management donations. They fit in with our curriculum and will suit our program well.”

The HEST program was launched at Immokalee Technical College under the guidance of Don Fites, former CEO of Caterpillar Inc. Fites played a key role in developing the public-private sector collaboration that created the program, including support from the Caterpillar Foundation, Fites Family Charitable Trust, Kelly Foundation Inc., Kelly Tractor and the Collier County School District.

The Immokalee Foundation’s HEST program includes practical experience in engine operation, rebuilding diesel engines, hydraulic system testing, heavy equipment fleet maintenance, and rebuilding transmissions, along with specialized skills in electronics, such as use of manufacturers’ diagnostic tools.

After the first year of the program, students are matched with summer internships with companies such as Caterpillar, US Sugar and, now, Waste Management, in which the pay ranges from $14 to $17 an hour. Following their internships, students return to complete a second year of instruction; upon graduation, HEST students’ average wage is $22 an hour in Southwest Florida and elsewhere.

In addition to donating the truck, Senior District Manager of Waste Management’s Charlotte County hauling operations Todd Peres is looking forward to working with the HEST student interns to fill the shortage of 70 technicians across the state of Florida.

“After meeting the students in the Heavy Equipment Service Technician program, we are confident they are up to the challenge of this career and will keep pace with new technologies,” said Peres.

Waste Management Inc., based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, the company provides collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. It is also a leading developer, operator and owner of waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit

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