NFTA donates bus to Alfred State for hands-on learning opportunity

NFTA donates bus to Alfred State for hands-on learning opportunity

Students in Alfred State College’s heavy equipment: truck and diesel technician program are now able to take their applied learning to the next level thanks to a recent bus donation by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA).

The bus is a 30-foot-long 2004 Gillig model that includes a diesel-powered engine with Tier 4 emissions, and multiplex communication between the vehicle and computer systems. It is also equipped with a Voith Automatic Transmission, which is considered the “Cadillac” of bus transmissions, according to Automotive Trades Department Chair Eric Wilmot.

“The updated features of this bus will make it a very useful teaching tool,” Wilmot said. “In essence, it is an instructional lab on wheels. The bus gives our three heavy equipment: truck and diesel technician instructors, Dan Acomb, Mike Caruso III, and Greg Traugh, an exciting outlook for learning opportunities.”

The bus, Wilmot said, is a huge asset to the department because it enhances students’ applied learning experiences and increases their exposure to late-model technology. Wilmot noted that John Dembik, superintendent of bus maintenance at NFTA, was instrumental in securing the bus donation.

Dembik, who is a member of Alfred State’s heavy equipment: truck and diesel program’s advisory board, had been looking to make the donation happen for the past three years, and is very pleased to see it come to fruition.

“While at the NFTA as a trainer for five years, I realized the usefulness of an operable bus as a training aid,” he said. “A transit bus is a very unique piece of equipment with many manufactured subsystems integrated as part of the ‘build process,’ then interfaced to make them all work together. Providing an operable hands-on training aid to Alfred State College’s heavy equipment truck and diesel technician program allows the students to get familiar with a transit bus and the operation/diagnostics of their subsystems.”

The donation, Dembik added, will provide years of education to Alfred State’s students, and help remove some apprehension about working on a bus, whether it be a 30-foot, 40-foot, or 60-foot articulated transit bus.

“I see a huge beneficial value, for not only the NFTA, but transit systems throughout New York and the US (every major city has a transit system) in terms of exposing Alfred State’s students to the excellent job opportunities and benefits that transit systems across the country have to offer,” Dembik said.

several students and instructors in front of bus

Shaking hands are Automotive Trades Department Chair Eric Wilmot, left, and NFTA
Superintendent of Bus Maintenance John Dembik.

Dembik, Wilmot said, is “a true believer in our style of education.”

“John comes faithfully to every career fair and usually brings a brand-new bus or van as a demonstration unit for all students to see,” Wilmot said. “He, like other attendees, are seeking to hire graduates. However, he loves coming to campus to share information and speak to students whether they come to work for him or not.”

Wilmot noted that the partnership between NFTA and Alfred State is a strong one.

“We are very grateful for John Dembik and the NFTA,” he said. “Their support of and dedication to our heavy equipment: truck and diesel technician program has been amazing. The partnership is strong, and we look forward to future visits from John.”