Kayhi students diesel engines

Under the watchful eye of Instructor Larry O'Loane, Ketchikan High School students break the main bearing caps loose on a Detroit Diesel 8V-71 engine at the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Maritime Campus. Photo courtesy of Angie Goffredi

Students from Ketchikan High School are earning college credits by taking apart and reassembling real diesel engines at the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Maritime Training Center.

Ten Kayhi students — ranging in grade from freshmen to seniors — enrolled in the "Diesel Engines Simplified," which began in early January.

“Besides learning these new skills on new equipment, it's part of the university's dual enrollment system,” Larry O'Loane, an associate professor of power technology at UAS, told the Daily News during a recent interview.

O'Loane said that the opportunity for dual enrollment at the maritime campus was a “first” for UAS and the Ketchikan School District.

He added that dual enrollment “has kind of become something of a buzz word.”

“It's a real college class, it's treated just like a college class,” O'Loane said about the course, adding that completion of the class worth three college credits per student.

O'Loane, who also is a certified marine engineer, instructs the class every Wednesday afternoon. Each class session runs about four hours, beginning at 2:30 p.m. after the Ketchikan School District's early release school day.

The 10 students assemble at the University of Alaska Southeast Maritime Training Center to listen to O'Loane lecture about the structure and processes of engines.

“We come in and we start talking about the theoretical part of the diesel engine,” O'Loane explained. “… We talk a little bit more about the theory of some of this than you might get in most very basic classes, because that gives you the solid groundings in these things to understand as you develop knowledge,” O'Loane explained.

O'Loane said that the syllabus includes discussion on everything from two-stroke cycles to pistons.

“They get a big dose of precision measurement,” O'Loane said. “How do you read micrometers? How do you read veneers? What's a dial indicator? What do you use these kinds of tools for?”

O'Loane said that he likes to keep classroom portion of "Diesel Engines Simplified" to around 40 to 50% of the session, leaving the rest of the time open for students to get experience handling the engines.

“The only thing that they want to do is take things apart and put them together,” O'Loane said.

The students work in teams of two to complete what O'Loane refers to as an “in-frame overhaul,”which means the students won't take the engine completely apart, but will disassemble and assemble parts of it.

“But, they are, in essence, doing a 'for real' engine tear-down and overhaul,” O'Loane explained.

Now just under the month away from the course's end, O'Loane said that teaching the young Kayhi students is different from instructing his regular, older students at the campus.

“This is the first time I've ever taught at this level, and it definitely is a different group of people that I'm used to dealing with,” O'Loane said.

“The really cool thing about them is enthusiasm,” O'Loane added. “Every single person that's sitting in that classroom wants to be there … and that's what's really important, is the desire to learn something and apply themselves, and then they can get out of it whatever they put into it.”