Taylor Littlejohn started his career in the automotive industry, detailing cars for high-end auctions in his hometown of Scottsbluff, NE. It was a good job, but he wanted more.
“I’ve always been interested in how things work, how I can fix something, how do I tear something apart and put it back together,” he said.
A friend told him about the Diesel Technology program at Gillette College, so he made a trip to Wyoming to learn more about it. When Littlejohn walked into the Technical Education Center and saw the high-bay diesel lab, he knew he had found the perfect place to continue his education.
“What I noticed most about the program was the phenomenal facility. It is stocked with all the newest equipment and tools, and you can tell the college does a great job of staying tuned in with the changing curve of where the industry is going,” he said. “I know I’m getting a quality education here.”
Littlejohn completed an associate degree in Diesel Technology in 2016 and received a two-year co-op with Cloud Peak Energy through a competitive interview and testing process. At Cloud Peak, he works with a mentor to rebuild Caterpillar D11 dozers and scrapers and complete maintenance on haul trucks, backhoes, and track hoes. After he completes his contract, Cloud Peak Energy will pick up the tab for his education and possibly extend an offer for full-time employment.
“I plan on staying with Cloud Peak as long as I can and would like it to be a long term career for me if possible,” Littlejohn said.
Littlejohn decided to continue at Gillette College and is now pursuing his Welding Technology degree while working at Cloud Peak Energy. He has managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA while going to classes four days a week and working 12-hour shifts at the mine on Fridays and Saturdays.
“I guess you could say I’m not afraid to take on a challenge,” he said. “I like to have a lot of tools in my tool box.”
Littlejohn will definitely have achieved that goal by the time he graduates with his Welding Technology associate degree this December, but he says more degrees are never out of the question.
“I would love to get my machining degree next,” he said laughing.