Real World, Real Responsibilities 

The opportunity for students to go out to a co-op or Cooperative Education is the capstone for their time at Berks Career & Technology Center (BCTC). It is an opportunity to put the training they have received at BCTC to work at a local company. There, they will learn the nuances and responsibilities of employment and earn a paycheck.  

BCTC started the Heavy Equipment Operations (HEO) program 3 years ago and after 2 ½ years of training, 3 students from HEO have recently begun their co-op experience. Trey (George) Quinter, a senior from Daniel Boone High School, Louis Lorah, a senior from Daniel Boone High School, and AJ Gardner, a senior from Twin Valley High School now report to work 4 days of the week during the time they would normally be spent at BCTC. Trey and AJ’s co-op is with Berg Construction and Louis’ co-op experience is at Advanced Fiber Technology.  

Trey works with the mechanics in Berg Construction’s machine shop helping with maintenance of heavy equipment and assisting wherever he is needed. When asked how co-op is different than the classroom Trey replied, “It is a faster pace at work. I have more responsibilities and my boss is counting on me to perform quality work in a timely manner, so I make every minute count.”    

AJ works in the special project division of Berg Construction where he does excavation on construction sites. One of the benefits of co-op is each student is assigned a mentor. “I am treated as an employee, but my mentor will go out of his way to explain something and give me tips of the trade.”  AJ continued, “there are some areas of the industry you cannot experience other than the field, especially with technology. There is always something new or upgrades of current tech. I love how each day on the job is different!”   

Louis spends most of his time in Advanced Fiber Technology’s machine shop or yard doing basic maintenance on heavy equipment. “It is a great place to work, and I look forward to going in,” Louis stated. “Co-op offers a more realistic experience than school ever could. I have a lot of tasks assigned to me, but with all the training at BCTC, I don’t have a problem keeping up.” Louis adds, “my friends at school think co-op is very cool too. They might be a little jealous.” 

Co-op experience would not be available without the foundations learned in BCTC’s HEO program. BCTC offers classroom theory, heavy equipment simulator training, but most of the training time is spent in the cab of several heavy equipment vehicles at BCTC’s private quarry in Oley. Here they will get the feel of equipment and learn the safety and basic maintenance of vehicles. Trey confirms, “The training at BCTC has helped as a new employee. I knew the terminology from the get-go and the right way to do something to avoid an accident or injury.”  

Working with the big equipment is in the future for each student but they each have a different path for their career. Trey’s goal is to operate a bulldozer in construction or road work. AJ would like to work with bulking large materials in a landfill or a commercial site. Louis would eventually like to be a heavy equipment operator. He noted, “I am right on track for what I want to do!”