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Truck driving program driving students to careers

By Steve Koehler

With 130 graduates to its credit in just two years, the Transport Training Institute at Ozarks Technical Community College continues to provide job opportunities to its graduates.

The program began in April 2007 after local transportation owners, led by Jim Towery, co-owner of Steelman Transportation, asked the College to establish the institute to train drivers. The support from businesses like Steelman Transportation helped the College to quickly acquire the equipment, curriculum, and job placement opportunities needed to get the program started.

Towery, a member of the OTC Foundation, was honored last year with a Distinguished Business and Industry Award from the Missouri Community College Association for the role he played in establishing the institute.

Mike Walker, president of TCSI/Transland Inc., was one of the first TTI advisory board members and donated a tractor and two trailers for students to use.  He has also hired several TTI graduates and appreciates the College’s efforts.

“If we don’t bring new people into the industry, we aren’t going to survive. The institute trains and mentors them to be professional,” he said.

Unlike other truck driving schools that cram training into three weeks, TTI has a five-week course that helps graduates qualify for better work.

“Companies are requiring 140 hours or more of training. We offer 180 hours. You have to have a five-week program to get that extra training. The extra two weeks allow us to offer a complete, well-rounded program. We have students who have done the three-week program come here,” said Stanley Kasterke, the institute’s lead instructor.

As part of the training, students are put through their paces at a skills test, which simulates the required maneuvers a driver must make in order to earn a commercial driving license (CDL). Six students took part in a recent real-life test.

Derek Palmer of Springfield, who had been working at fast food restaurants before enrolling in the program, said the rodeo helped him concentrate on passing the driver’s test.

“This has been a fantastic program. We have three good instructors and everybody’s here working to learn. Students help each other,” he said.

Rusty Fender of Springfield, who started classes about a week ago after being laid off, was watching the rodeo taking place in the Price Cutter Park parking lot.

“I was read to change my career path. This job has good benefits and it’s steady work. It will always be there,” said Fender, who added that he was glad that he picked TTI to get his training.

“I looked at the different programs and OTC’s looked the nicest and cleanest. I like the five-week program instead of three. I’ll learn a lot more,” he said.

For information about Transport Training Institute, call 447-6629.

 Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College.


Mark Miller

College Director of Communication

Phone: 417.447.2655


Laura French

Coordinator of Public Information

Phone: 417.447.2659


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