Joe Wyatt
Published December 6, 2017

Tuesday, Dec. 5 was a day to remember for Joe Riksen, who not only received multiple awards as the highest-achieving diesel technology major at Amarillo College, but who also began full-time employment in his chosen profession.

dieselawardsinDuring an awards ceremony at Yellowhouse Machinery Company, Riksen was recognized for turning in the highest scores among students in AC’s Kritser Diesel Program on both the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) exam and the Cummins Virtual College (CVC) exam.

He then promptly went to work on location as the newest mechanic apprentice on staff at Yellowhouse, the oldest John Deere construction equipment dealership west of the Mississippi.

“We know that the students at Amarillo College are very well prepared to succeed here,” said Brad Western, regional service manager for Yellowhouse. “We know we are getting a great employee in Joe.”

And Riksen knows that he is launching his career as a diesel mechanic at one of the best companies there is.

“I guess all the hard work I’ve put in at school is starting to pay off,” said Riksen, who spent seven years in the U.S. Air Force before enrolling at AC. “I really appreciate how the teachers at AC push you to succeed.

“John Deere is like the brand for tractors, so it’s awesome that I’m going to work here at Yellowhouse,” Riksen said. “Things seem like they are really starting to work out.”

For achieving three ASE certifications – in Electronical/Electronics, Diesel Engine and Preventive Maintenance & Inspection – Riksen received $300 worth of tools courtesy of the AC Foundation. For his AC-best CVC score, Riksen, who will graduate from AC on Dec. 15, was presented with a handsome satchel from Cummins Southern Plains.

Derek Lyon, AC diesel instructor, says students who successfully pass ASE and CVC exams position themselves to improve not only their knowledge but their career opportunities, which is clearly evidenced by Riksen’s new employment.


“ASE certification will instantly move applicants to the top of most candidate lists in the diesel technology industry because it demonstrates their willingness to go the extra mile both in the classroom and beyond it,” Lyon said. “And for anyone already employed with a company, it can quickly put them in line for a raise.


“CVC exams demonstrate a student’s seriousness while equipping them with skills needed by 95 percent of our industry partners,” he said.


Also receiving special recognition at the awards ceremony were diesel technology students Robert Dominguez, AC’s second-place finisher in the ASE exam, who received $200 worth of tools; and Noah Akins, who placed second on the CVC exam and was awarded $100 worth of tools.


Following the presentation of awards in the showroom, the award winners and a group of fellow AC diesel technology students who accompanied them to Yellowhouse were treated to a tour of the plant.


“The generosity of our industry partners and the AC Foundation continues to overwhelm me,” Lyon said. “With everyone lining up behind our students, supporting what they do, it really has an impact on the level of success they achieve. I’m forever thankful.”




In the photo:

Brad Western, Regional Service Manager for Yellowhouse, (right), and Matthew Kunkel, Cummins Southern Plains Service Manager (left) flank AC’s top diesel technology award winner, Joe Riksen.