From apprentice to technician, Austin gears up for a career at Cummins

Austin and his truck

When he’s not fixing engines, you can find Austin Kolas outdoors — no matter the season. Whether he’s hunting, fishing or transforming his 1986 Ford Ranger into a drag car, he’s either working on a car or somewhere deep in the woods of Western Pennsylvania year-round.

Austin started in the Cummins Technician Apprentice Program just one week after graduating from high school. Through the program, he was able to earn his associate’s degree in diesel and heavy equipment technology from Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, paid for entirely by Cummins.“Since I was working and getting my degree at the same time, it was difficult to balance it all at times,” Austin said. “It was a lot, but it was definitely doable and I put my mind to it.” Growing up, Austin was always adept at mathematics, taking college-level calculus classes during high school. Combined with his interest in working with his hands, Austin’s knack for math makes his career as a diesel service technician a perfect fit.


My dad actually suggested I apply for the apprenticeship program. I took an aptitude test, had the interview and got hired — and it’s been great ever since. Being a technician is a very hands-on experience, so it’s the perfect fit for me.
 

Since completing the apprenticeship program, Austin works as a journeyman diesel technician specializing in bus engines and transmissions. From diagnosis to repair and test driving, he’s responsible for getting vehicles back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.“I like fixing things,” Austin said. “It’s so rewarding to see something that you built work the way it’s supposed to.”

To empower him in his role, Austin has access to leading-edge integrated technology for diagnosing problems, recording data and monitoring engine performance. “To us, they feel like toys because we enjoy using all the cool technology Cummins makes available to us,” Austin said. “It’s fun to find new uses for things and explore new tools.”

As for what’s next in his career, Austin is open to a variety of new opportunities, including field service on customer sites. His long-term ambitions include learning more about Cummins products to take on an instructional role in training new technicians. In his current role, he’s inspired by the difference he’s making in the world.

I do feel like I’m making an impact on the world. I help repair public transit vehicles and engines; coworkers of mine repair generators for hospitals. All the technicians here have really important roles in keeping Western Pennsylvania moving.

Just like Austin and his coworkers keep Cummins engines moving, Cummins keeps employees moving on a path of professional development through educational opportunities. "I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the benefits of the Technician Apprentice Program at Cummins, he adds. "Once you have a degree to your name, no one can take that away from you. You become more valuable as an employee and a professional.

Higher education meant more to Austin than just the title or a piece of paper that comes along with earning a degree - it's helped him become a better technician with a thorough understanding of his everyday work and the systems he’s responsible for.

“With that education, you can get the full understanding of how and why something works,” Austin said. “On a vehicle, everything works together. So if something’s messed up, you can figure out what’s not working right. Furthering my education helped broaden the scope of my skills and capabilities.”

 

Interested in learning more about a career at Cummins? Check out our careers site. 

Want to hear more from our team? Find more team stories here.

Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employee storytelling, and employer branding. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. 

There's no masking it, Corrine is making the most of her short time with Cummins

Corrine has only been with us for two years, but her appreciation for Cummins dates back quite a bit. “My dad had worked for the Society of Automotive Engineers for more than 20 years, and I had the opportunity to go on a lot of business trips with him. He always spoke very highly of Cummins. I also got to meet a lot of his colleagues who would tell me about what Cummins was doing, and it all sounded very innovative and interesting.”

Years later, Corrine found herself at Penn State majoring in materials science and engineering, and when an opportunity came up to co-op at Cummins she jumped at the chance. 

I never forgot how impressed my dad was with Cummins and its reputation of being a leader in product development and being a company that other companies look up to and look to for advice and answers. I wanted to be a part of that.

After her co-op, Corrine accepted a full-time position, and now she serves as a product engineer for our filtration business in Cookeville, TN. “I'm currently on the heavy-duty team with new product development,” she said. “We’re incorporating new products and we do a lot of validation and testing.”

Even though she had been on the job only a relatively short time, there’s a recent experience that sums up and validates everything she had heard about Cummins since she was a young girl.

People here get amazing opportunities to explore and try new things. There’s an overwhelming spirit of innovation and encouragement to innovate.

One day, out of the blue, leadership reached out to Corrine and another engineer. “We had actually co-oped together,” she recalls, “and we started full-time at the very same time. They said, ‘We have this new idea and opportunity. We want you two to research it, take it, and hit the ground running.”

This took place at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the idea was for Corrine and her partner to use their filtration knowledge, experience, and resources to create scented, more comfortable facemasks. 

“People were working in the plant eight hours a day and would have to wear the mask the whole time, so we were trying to make their day a little bit fresher. Aside from adding a fresh scent, we also had some other ideas like adding menthol to make it easier to breathe and adding features to help with skincare and acne. Once the masks were finished, we thought of other applications, like for a cabin filter or a vacuum cleaner – anything that could benefit from a more pleasant scent, really.”

Now, I have my name on a pending patent, and that’s pretty exciting. I don’t know many companies that would give such an opportunity like that to someone just starting out in their career.

At the time, Corrine may have been surprised that she was tapped for such an opportunity, but what didn’t surprise her was that Cummins would step up and use its resources and expertise to help people out during troubled times. 

“One of our core values is caring for people and making a difference in the lives of others. That’s probably the value that means the most to me. Through our Cummins’ Every Employee Every Community (EEEC) program, I recently got to be involved in teaching coding to homeschooled kids. We went for a day and brought the iPads and the robots and taught them how to code. The kids were really excited. We’re also partnering with Tennessee Tech University putting on an engineering summer camp for young girls, and we’re heavily involved with Meals on Wheels.”

There are a lot of opportunities to get involved and give back here.

 “I feel like I've done a lot in a very short time, and I’m now really blossoming and coming into my own in my current role,” she said. “Yet, I think maybe five years from now I’ll try something different, whether it be in the media team or maybe project management. That what’s great about Cummins. You're not limited to your role or your team. If you want to branch out and learn a new skill or try something different, you can, and the company fully supports it.” 
 

Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employee storytelling, and employer branding. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. 

Freedom, cultural diversity and empowerment - just a few things Antonio loves about Cummins

Whether he’s wearing his official engineers’ hat or his unofficial translators’ cap, Antonio enjoys a lot of freedom in his career. 

“I’m a guy of many hats.” That’s how Antonio Robinson describes his role as an Electrical Senior Product Design Engineer, dealing with everything from platform running to internal auditing. Yet, interestingly enough, it was a literal hat that started his Cummins career journey. He was first introduced to Cummins back in college in Alabama when he was doing a co-op with another company that had a service contract with Cummins for its motorhomes.

I remember the Cummins engineer was the happiest person there.

“So, I said to him one day, ‘Hey, how come you’re so happy coming down to the backwoods of Alabama every day to do your job’? And he said, ‘I love the company I work for. Cummins gives me all the freedom to do my job, without micro-managing me’.”

I told him that sounds good to me, so he encouraged me to apply. And he even gave me a Cummins hat, which I still have to this day.

Five years later, Antonio is now working out of Minneapolis, MN and says the freedom he first heard about in the backwoods of Alabama still holds true today and is one of the things he enjoys most about working for Cummins. 

People here are allowed a lot of freedom and autonomy in their jobs every day.

“Because Cummins knows that when you give people freedom, it’s another way to say you trust them. And when you have trust, people feel valued, and that’s when everybody can do their best work.”

Antonio goes on to explain that you’re not just more empowered in your daily work here – you’re free to pursue other interests that make your career more rewarding and interesting. For example, Antonio serves as a Cummins liaison to the National Society of Black Engineers chapter in Minneapolis, helping out with campus recruiting, and he’s an “intern champion,” mentoring and guiding a student intern. When asked what else he enjoys about working for Cummins, Antonio doesn’t hesitate to point out the cultural diversity that exists here. 

“Cummins is very diverse. If you work here, you’re going to be exposed to different cultures. I’ve been on a team with people from Latin America, Africa, India, and Korea. It’s all a big web of different cultures. Before COVID, we had certain days where on a Friday we'll go eat Korean or on another Friday, we'll go eat Indian. And other days we’d try soul food or African food.” 

It's really all about understanding each other and learning about and respecting everybody's cultures and upbringing.

Speaking of upbringing, when Antonio looks back at his own, he notices an unexpected benefit that he brings to work with him every day. 

“My mom always called me a social butterfly, and being born outside America, I was never the guy with the perfect clean-cut English, but I would enjoy interacting and talking with all types of people. We have meetings with different suppliers from out of the country, and they'll start talking and sometimes it can be hard to understand them – but I can. I really think of it as a gift, and it makes working for such a big, culturally diverse company like Cummins that much more enjoyable.”

Antonio says he’s very comfortable getting people to gel as a team and come together to achieve their goals. He’d like to continue doing that on all his projects as he keeps advancing in his career, enjoying the journey and all the people he shares it with. 

“Because at heart, I’m a people person, and what COVID taught me is – I hate staying at home. I need to come into work and touch stuff and play with new parts and interact with my team every day.”

 

Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employee storytelling, and employer branding. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. 

From India to Columbus and low emission engines to alternate power systems, Neeraj has enjoyed his Cummins journey immensely

Neeraj Agarwal grew up in India with very little awareness of Cummins. It wasn’t until attending Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio for his undergrad degree and masters’ degree that Cummins appeared on his radar. “Cummins was always doing these talks and events on campus, and I would talk and interact with their representatives and recruiters.” 

They were all so smart and how they described what they were doing seemed so interesting to me. It really sounded like genius-level stuff.

It is now nearly 10 years later, and Neeraj still finds himself in Columbus – only not in Ohio. Neeraj is currently working at our world headquarters in Columbus, Indiana as a Thermal Management Systems Architect for our New Power Business Unit. 

“I’m accountable for developing Thermal Management Systems for batteries, powertrain, power electronics and cabin in battery-electric vehicles. What I really enjoy is that there is no typical day. Different devices need to either be heated or cooled. I deal with everything in the hardware part of it, the software part of it, the validation, and the people part of it. That’s the best part of the job, the people part of it.” 

Neeraj goes on to explain why. “We tend to work in groups of 10 to 20 people on your team here. Over time you develop deep connections and a network of people you know you can absolutely trust and rely on.” 

In fact, I had eight of my friends from Cummins travel all the way to India for my wedding five years ago.

Having good friends at his wedding wasn’t the only thing Neeraj appreciated returning home to India. He remembers a very unexpected and eye-opening moment with his father. 

“It was the first time visiting my parents just after I joined Cummins, and we were heading home from the airport. We passed a huge Cummins engine on the drive. I was proud to point it out and tell my dad, ‘Hey, that’s the company I work for,’ and my dad said, ‘Yeah, I know Cummins and not just because you joined. Of course, I know what Cummins is about. They’ve been in India forever.” This is when Neeraj realized what a truly big and global company Cummins is. 

People don’t realize it, but everybody sees Cummins in their lives every day. Cummins engines are everywhere. They’re powering all those Amazon delivery vans you see in your neighborhood every day.

“We also have a huge market share in all the trucks you see on the highways and over the world, and we recently just unveiled the world’s first hydrogen-powered aircraft in Germany, powered by Cummins fuel cells.” As Neeraj tells it, he doesn’t just like that you can see Cummins products and innovations every day, everywhere. He also likes all the opportunities that being global in nature provides. 

It’s nice to know that if you’re interested in doing international assignments, that option exists. We currently do business in over 190 countries.

For now, however, Neeraj, says he’s happy here in Columbus and looking forward to the future. 

“If you were to go back 15 or 20 years ago and I would have told you that one day Cummins would have a fourth or even better, a fifth business unit that is going to be solely dedicated to new power and the development of alternative power systems, I don’t know too many people who would have taken me seriously. First, it was low emissions engines, and then aftertreatment systems, and now new power and alternate power systems including electrified powertrains and fuel cell and hydrogen generation. Taking that trajectory and extrapolating it going forward is something that definitely gets me excited.”


 

Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employee storytelling, and employer branding. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. 

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand all that Cummins has to offer, but it sure helps. Meet Shannon.

Shannon Grady came to Cummins a little over 10 years ago from the Aerospace and Defense Industry. “I worked at a solid rocket motor manufacturer, so literally every day, what I did was considered rocket science.” Shannon has her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, and she currently serves at Cummins as Technical Advisor for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

“My main role is as a CFD analyst working on projects across the business units, mostly spark-ignited engines. Also, some of the diesel engine projects, it really depends, but among other things, I do thermal management and air handling analysis.”

You would think that going from the aerospace industry to the automotive industry would be no problem for Shannon, but she tells otherwise. 

There’s the joke that everything is easier than rocket science, but our engine technology is super advanced.

“Knowing nothing about automotive, it was challenging at first, but I soon found that my skills translated. Now, I find it really satisfying being able to tackle tough challenges and be innovative. To take an old process and make it better, faster, cheaper. Also, to take something that's a problem and come up with a way to fix it or come up with an analysis that's going to solve the problem without us having to break a bunch of engine parts to figure it out.”

Aside from the challenging and innovative work she does, Shannon says there are many other things that keep her engaged and happy to call Cummins home. 

The way I see it, Cummins is a total package kind of employer.

“Just liking one or two aspects of a job isn’t going to keep you there long-term. The company has to offer and provide you with a lot more and Cummins does just that. We have excellent benefits. The company is extremely socially aware and active championing diversity and inclusion not only in our organization but in the communities where we all work and live as well.”

Shannon goes on to explain, “what’s more, we are always pushing the limits of technology and expanding and enhancing our product offerings. Corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability are also very important here and something I’ve been able to be involved with over the 10 years that I’ve been here.”

Shannon also appreciates not only being recognized for her work and achievements in the traditional way – she was just recently promoted – but also in unexpected ways. This past fall, Shannon was nominated for a 2021 Black Engineer of the Year Award as part of our LIFT initiative that recognizes employees who are making significant contributions and strives to get them recognized outside of the common sphere.

It was nationwide and very exciting.  I ended up winning the Science Spectrum Trailblazer Award.

“Cummins didn’t have to do that. They made it all happen. I didn’t just win the award because of the things I’ve been doing here. Cummins dug into my background and noted all the things I did and achieved at my first company and the outside activities and other organizations I support, for example, my work with NSBE, the National Society of Black Engineers.” 

Shannon has been an active member of NSBE since 2004 and has held various leadership roles including chapter president, regional and national pre-college initiative chair, national NSBE Professionals membership chair and regional chair for two regions. Through the organization, she also serves as a mentor to students. 

I think it’s important to get as many young people as we can, especially young girls, interested in pursuing a future in STEM careers.

As for what the future holds for Shannon, she says she’s very excited. “Cummins is very good at letting people take on different roles to get to know all parts of the business. This new promotion is a big opportunity for me to grow technically working on a diverse spread of, not only engine products but also different technologies and different analysis types.”


 

Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employee storytelling, and employer branding. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. 

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