Students in South Carolina are being introduced to the world of diesel repair - from basic maintenance to high-tech electronic diagnosis – as part of a new training program being offered this year in collaboration with Navistar International Corp.

Richland 1 was selected from six Midlands school districts and will have the only Navistar school on the East Coast, according to a report in The State newspaper.

Navistar currently collaborates with several high schools to offer special training programs:

• Navistar’s collaborations with Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA), an inner-city high school on Chicago’s South Side, began in 2000. The three-year curriculum, co-developed by Navistar, has been certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), and has trained hundreds of inner-city youths as qualified diesel truck and engine technicians. Up to 80% of graduating students land jobs and many others go on to successful collegiate careers, according to Navistar.

• Navistar also partners with the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to provide a three-year diesel technician program at Tech High School in Indianapolis, the first of its kind in the state of Indiana.

• A diesel education program, developed in cooperation with Thornton Township High School in Harvey, IL, was launched in the fall of 2009.

“We are very excited to have been chosen for this wonderful program,” said Sherry Rivers, principal of Heyward Career and Technology Center, where the South Carolina courses will be offered. Classes will cover diesel transmissions, brake systems, suspension and steering systems, electrical systems, heating and ventilation and preventive maintenance.

Richland 1 was chosen because of its career and technology education programs, according to Navistar program coordinator David Prigge. Navistar officials visited the district before the selection was made.

“This is a huge honor and commitment by Navistar,” Prigge said. Students who complete the program can get jobs directly out of high school as diesel mechanics, service managers, heavy equipment service technicians, power plant technicians and parts managers.

“Students certified in this program will be able to go anywhere in the world and get a job with any trucking company with an entry-level starting salary of $17/hour,” Prigge said.

Navistar will provide the engines, powertrain components, vehicles and lab tools and technical expertise.

“Students in this comprehensive program will learn every aspect of medium- to heavy-duty trucks, up to 18 wheelers,” Prigge said.

The district officially will launch the diesel engine repair program in January — open to sophomores, juniors and seniors — but introductory courses will be offered this fall.

“In addition to classroom and lab instruction, students will be able to go on field studies, learn from guest speakers, participate in shadowing and internships, and work on collaborative projects with other classes,” Rivers said. “These innovative approaches will maintain students’ interest in the program. Our goal is to provide students with the academic knowledge as well as technical skills that will prepare them for a global competitive environment.”