Think Big Program Details

During the two-year program students spend approximately half their time each semester at Florence-Darlington Technical College in Florence, SC, completing technical and general education courses. This program helps you to delevop the skills you'll need to diagnose and repair tractors, trucks, graders, excavators and many other machines in the Caterpillar line-up. You'll work with the latest diagnostic tools, current machines and components as you complete your lab assignments.During the two-year program students spend approximately half their time each semester at Florence-Darlington Technical College in Florence, SC, completing technical and general education courses. This program helps you to delevop the skills you'll need to diagnose and repair tractors, trucks, graders, excavators and many other machines in the Caterpillar line-up. You'll work with the latest diagnostic tools, current machines and components as you complete your lab assignments.

The remaining time is spent working at one of Blanchard Machinery's 14 locations as a paid intern. When you complete the program, you will earn an Associate of Science degree, and in the following three years, work as full-time entry-level technician at Blanchard Machinery, receiving additional experience and on-the-job training.

As a Blanchard Machinery Service Technician, you’ll work on some of the most advanced and hardest working machines in the world. You will be a highly skilled, technically trained, in-demand member of the worldwide Caterpillar family. As you develop the skills, experience and motivation, you’ll have opportunities to advance into new jobs at Blanchard Machinery.

Listed below are Frequently Asked Questions about the program. For complete details please follow the contact instructions at the bottom of this page.

THINK BIG PROGRAM - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are the requirements for admission into the program?
• Possess a basic mechanical aptitude.
• Have earned or will earn a high school diploma or equivalent.
• Must be 18 years of age or older by the time of your first internship.
• Must meet FDTC admission requirements, which include placement testing, complete application and interview process with the school and dealer.
• Pass a background check and drug screening.
• You must be accepted by both the dealer and the school to be a member of the Caterpillar Dealer Academy.

What is the cost of the program?
Blanchard will pay for the following costs associated with the Think Big Program:

• Hourly wage for all hours worked in the dealership.
• There is ample opportunity to make enough money during internships to pay all tuition, fees, books, and living expenses in Florence.
• Training aids and equipment for classroom along with internship instruction.
• Uniforms and safety glasses.
• A portion of safety shoes cost.

The student will pay for the following costs associated with the Think Big Program:
• Florence-Darlington Technical College tuition. All students pay the in-county tuition rate (15% off).
• General Education textbooks.
• Portion of toolbox cost after completion of program and three year dealer experience

Where will the training be held?
Classroom training is held at Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC). FDTC is located in Florence, SC with an annual enrollment of several thousand students. Approximately 40 weeks out of the two years will be spent in Florence, split between five eight-week semesters.

Where will I live while I complete the program?
While attending FDTC, the school has made arrangements with a local apartment complex to offer low-cost, convenient housing for its students. In this dorm-like atmosphere, four students share a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. Your $287.50 per month rent covers all utilities including local phone, cable, and electricity. The apartment is completely furnished - you don't have to worry about hauling furniture when you go on your internship. In addition, there are no connection fees to pay, no leases to sign, and you pay ONLY for the time you live in Florence. While participating in the internship program your local sponsoring dealership will try to get you as close as possible to your home town. Blanchard has 14 locations throughout South Carolina.

What is included in the curriculum?
Your core Caterpillar classes include diesel engines, hydraulic systems, fuel systems, electrical systems, undercarriage/final drives, diagnostic testing, fundamentals of transmissions and torque converters, welding, and diesel air conditioning. The CDA has two dedicated, full-time training instructors that teach most classes in a "lab" atmosphere.

Classroom and lab training are held in FDTC's state-of-the-art classrooms and computer labs. New Cat machines are loaned to the school every semester including wheel loaders, track-type tractors, backhoes, challenger agricultural tractors, and excavators. The school has all up-to-date training aids, tools, and simulators and all the latest Caterpillar diagnostic and operational computer software.

Our commitment to your development does not stop when you graduate. We are constantly updating our classes and offering our experienced technicians new training to make sure they remain some of the most knowledgeable technicians in the industry.

Because you will be earning an Associates Degree in Industrial Technology, there are some general education requirements such as English composition, math, sociology, technical communication, public speaking, and fine arts classes. What is great about these classes is that most are taught as part of an integrated curriculum. This means classroom instruction is related to real on-the-job topics, issues, and discussion.

Click here to review Curriculum.

What will I do during my internship?
During your internship you will work directly with machines and engines, assist trained technicians, and learn how it feels to be a valuable member of the Blanchard family. You will work with mentors in the service area including the main shop, specialization shop, field service, welding shop, and more. Students work while classes are not in session at FDTC. This includes opportunities for extra hours and income during semester and holiday breaks.

Paid internships at your local sponsoring dealership help you put your education to work. This is one of the most important elements of the program.

Your core Caterpillar classes include diesel engines, hydraulic systems, fuel systems, electrical systems, undercarriage/final drives, diagnostic testing, fundamentals of transmissions and torque converters, welding, and diesel air conditioning. The CDA has two dedicated, full-time training instructors that teach most classes in a "lab" atmosphere.

Classroom and lab training are held in FDTC's state-of-the-art classrooms and computer labs. New Cat machines are loaned to the school every semester including wheel loaders, track-type tractors, backhoes, challenger agricultural tractors, and excavators. The school has all up-to-date training aids, tools, and simulators and all the latest Caterpillar diagnostic and operational computer software.

Our commitment to your development does not stop when you graduate. We are constantly updating our classes and offering our experienced technicians new training to make sure they remain some of the most knowledgeable technicians in the industry.

Because you will be earning an Associates Degree in Industrial Technology, there are some general education requirements such as English composition, math, sociology, technical communication, public speaking, and a fine arts classes. What is great about these classes is that most are taught as part of an integrated curriculum. This means classroom instruction is related to real on-the-job topics, issues, and discussion.

What tooling do I need to acquire?
We want to make sure you have the personal tooling necessary to start a career as a Dealer Service Technician. A starter set of tooling is provided at the beginning of the program to each student. After graduation of the program and three years dealer work experience tools will be paid for through easy payroll deductions.

Who do I contact for more information?
If a challenging, interesting, hands-on career appeals to you, contact Blanchard's Human Resources Department at 803.791.7100.

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