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Big Bill memorial gift offers lasting lesson in good maintenance and mechanical care

March 1, 2021

Students in the Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic program have a leg up in their training thanks to Big Bill – a 2018 Peterbilt semi-truck generously provided by a family, which wishes to remain anonymous.

Sentimental efforts were made to create Big Bill – a gift that celebrates the passionate appreciation of a fondly remembered brother and friend who took dedicated pride and joy in maintaining heavy duty equipment.

“Our brother was kind and generous. He was an equipment guy and placed value in taking the best care of things. He had an affinity for good maintenance,” the donors said.

The decision to donate the truck to Red River College (RRC) was an easy one for the donor after learning about the heavy equipment programs offered through the Jan Den Oudsten Vehicle Technology and Research Centre. Program instructor Dietrich Schellenberg is grateful for the new learning tool. “Truck technology changes rapidly so it is really important to have newer vehicles here for the students to learn on,” he said.  “The Certificate students use it to practice removing wheels and brakes, the level 2 Apprentices use it to investigate how the truck communication system works and the Level 4 Apprentices spend time diagnosing the extensive emission control modules.”

Having equipment like this, with pieces students can take apart and put together, is crucial for students learning a skilled traded.

“It adds another valuable element in our learning environment to be able to see and hold the pieces we’re talking about; to see where they are on a truck and how they move and operate puts everything into perspective,” said Shelby Livetsky, educational assistant for the Transporation Heavy Apprenticeship trades. “We are so fortunate to have Big Bill with all of it’s modern and unique features as a valuable teaching tool for the next generation of truck mechanics.“

To help bridge a direct connection to students, the donor family launched a naming contest to have the truck named by on-site learners. The top three student-submitted ideas received a cash prize, and Big Bill was decided as the winning selection. A logo was designed by RRC graphic design student, Honglin Ye, and installed on the doors of the truck’s cab.

In addition to Big Bill, the family generously provided RRC’s Welding program with two welding simulators. The simulators are used to enhance technical skill-building and learning through virtual technology that mirrors the welding practice.

Gift-in-kind donations like this support the hands-on learning and training that give RRC students an advantage in their careers, and sharing the memory of a loved one adds significance. RRC is proud to be home to Big Bill and support enhanced heavy equipment maintenance and skill training.

If you are interested in providing a Gift-in-kind donation to one of RRC’s programs or celebrating a legacy, please contact