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Ferris Develops Training Program for North Carolina Fleet Managers

Heavy EquipmentFerris State University has been awarded a $110,520 grant to develop and deliver a comprehensive fleet management training program for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The university is collaborating with the National Center for Pavement Preservation at Michigan State University to develop and deliver the program to NCDOT fleet managers who oversee that state’s heavy equipment fleets.

Ferris’ involvement is a direct result of the positive national reputation of its Heavy Equipment programs, said Spence Tower, an associate professor in the College of Business. In addition, Ferris has had an ongoing partnership with the NAFA Fleet Management Association to offer certification in the multi-billion dollar fleet management industry. 

“This new NCDOT relationship stands as strong validation of what they’re doing in Heavy Equipment in the College of Engineering Technology,” said Tower, the Ferris coordinator of the project’s training. “A lot of people in this profession have been getting to know what Ferris has to offer.”

With about $650 million in equipment assets, the NCDOT operates the second-largest state-owned highway network in the United States. An audit conducted by the North Carolina State Auditor recommended NCDOT provide training for its equipment managers in efficient fleet practices. The audit also recommended all division equipment superintendents earn professional certification through the Association of Equipment Management Professionals.

The majority of the training program is being developed and will be taught by faculty in Ferris’ College of Business and College of Engineering Technology with expertise in the fleet management topics needed to obtain AEMP certification. Aside from Tower, they include professor and Management Department head David Steenstra, Management professor Ann Gilley, and Gary Maike, an associate professor in Heavy Equipment. In addition to Ferris faculty, three fleet industry consultants also will serve as trainers.

Technical writing for the participant training manual will be completed by Ferris professor Sandy Balkema, coordinator of the Technical and Professional Communication program in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education.

Ferris course curriculum and AEMP materials will be incorporated into the three-week program customized to meet the specific needs of NCDOT fleet managers, Tower said.

“This program will be designed to provide leadership and business acumen skills, and expose participants to new concepts and techniques that will result in measurable benefits,” he said.

About 20 fleet professionals are expected to participate in the training program, which consists of 15 day-long sessions April 15-19, May 13-17 and June 10-14 in Raleigh, N.C.

Courses address a variety of issues, from financial management, outsourcing and safety to fleet utilization and optimization.

Participants who complete the program will be eligible to take the AEMP Certified Equipment Manager examination.

Ferris’ School of Automotive and Heavy Equipment has been a leader in transportation education for more than 50 years. It is the only school in the country to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Heavy Equipment. (More information:

A partnership between Ferris’ Colleges of Business and Engineering Technology and NAFA began in 2008 that awards NAFA Certified Automotive Fleet Manager program participants with college credit and includes a Bachelor of Science degree with a minor or certificate in Fleet Management. Tower and Maike collaborated on development of the minor and certificate. (See