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College partners with global firm to train employees

Loram Maintenance of Way plays an important role in ensuring the railways across the United States remain safe. Now Dakota County Technical College will play an important role in training their staff.

Over the next two years DCTC will work with Loram to create a customized program to train the company's employees. Through the partnership the duo will create customized courses focused on electrical, diesel, mechanical/welding and hydraulics among other skills.

Larry Raddatz, DCTC's director of manufacturing and railroad, said the school will train Loram employees, at their Hamel location, to operate the complex machinery the company uses to maintain railroad tracks. The company sells its services and machinery around the world.

"It's really a great partnership," said Raddatz.

The cooperative effort received a $105,009 grant through the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership. The program works with business and educational institutions to train and offer continuing education in the state. The program's aim is to keep high quality jobs in Minnesota.

DCTC President Ron Thomas said he was glad the college could contribute to the company's ongoing success.

"Loram is one of only a handful of companies in the world capable of providing service and equipment in this very important area of transportation. Loram delivers maintenance of way services to Class I and shortline railroads and transit and commuter rails not only on our continent but also around the world," said Thomas.

The partnership came through the recommendation of one of DCTC's alumni. Raddatz said the graduate works for Loram, and when the issue of creating a formal training program came up she recommended DCTC be considered. The college won out over several other colleges for the opportunity to create the program for Loram.

The partnership will benefit students as well. Raddatz said Loram has expressed interest in hiring students from DCTC.

Loram has been providing railroad maintenance equipment and services since 1954. The company specializes in rail grinding, ballast cleaning and ditching.

Raddatz said all three of those areas are essential to railroad safety. Rail grinding includes smoothing the actual tracks. Ballast cleaning means removing excess dirt and materials from the rocks that provide a flat surface for the track and ditching provides a slope for the track so water runs off.

The equipment to provide the three services is complex, said Raddatz, and requires skilled employees to build and operate. Crews running the machinery also have to be able to fix issues as they often find themselves in rural areas without support.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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