UTI Grad Blazes a Trail in the Railroad Transportation Industry

UTI Profile Image Universal Technical Institute Nov 4, 2019 ·

At UTI, our programs were created to provide students with valuable knowledge and skills they can use to jumpstart their careers and pursue their passion. Our graduates go on to work in many different arenas, from dealerships and repair shops to marinas and race teams. Many of them have blazed trails in unique industries, like UTI grad Corey Hedge.  

After completing his Automotive, Diesel and Ford FACT programs at UTI, Corey pursued a career with Bombardier Transportation, the world’s leading manufacturer of both planes and trains.  

Corey works on the transportation side of the business, which covers the full spectrum of rail solutions ranging from trains to sub-systems and signaling to complete turnkey transport systems, e-mobility technology and data-driven maintenance services. While working on trains was something he had never done before, Corey was able to use his education from UTI to create his own path in the industry.

Keep reading to learn all about Corey, his journey at UTI and his career success.  

Meet Corey Hedge

Corey has always been a mechanic at heart. When he was just 16 years old, he got his first job working on various types of small engines. He worked on lawn mowers and cement cutters and developed a true passion for the industry.  

A defining moment in Corey’s career occurred one day when he was working on a cement cutter. He and another technician were doing tune-ups on several cutters when they realized one of them wasn’t working. They defined the problem, completed the repair and got the machine working again.  

Seeing the engine come back to life and knowing he was responsible for it gave Corey an incredible sense of accomplishment. “From there, I knew what I wanted to do was definitely in the mechanical field. I liked working with my hands and with machinery,” Corey says.

After graduating high school, Corey went into the military, where he worked on tanks. He excelled in this role, which was even more of a confirmation that this was the field he wanted to be in. 

From the Military to UTI

Corey first heard about Universal Technical Institute when he was in high school. UTI recruiters visited his high school campus and he had several friends who enrolled after graduating. Corey had the passion and desire to go, but instead went into the military to serve his country. 

When he got out of the military and returned home, Corey wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. One day while he was watching TV, he saw a UTI commercial. This sparked the same passion he had before, and he began looking into the school. He called UTI and got connected with a military admissions representative who walked him through the process of using his GI bill. He enrolled at the Rancho Cucamonga campus and went on to complete the Automotive, Diesel and Ford FACT programs. 

Corey enjoyed his time at UTI. “It exceeded my expectations. It was everything I wanted and more,” he shares. Prior to attending, he considered himself a veteran in the craft because of the years of experience he had under his belt. However, he realized that there were things he hadn’t learned properly, and UTI provided him with the in-depth technical knowledge he needed to succeed. 

Transitioning from the military to civilian life was difficult for Corey, as it is for many veterans. However, attending UTI made him feel right at home and provided him with the structure he missed. “When I started attending UTI, it made the transition a lot easier. It almost feels like it’s ran in that type of nature—you need to be punctual, in the right uniform, your uniform needs to be neat, and you have to be in the right place at the right time,” he says. 

One of Corey’s favorite memories from attending UTI was when the veteran’s lounge opened on campus. “The fact that the Rancho Cucamonga campus was giving veterans their own room to debrief and relax for a moment between classes, at lunchtime, or before or after school said a lot to me about UTI as a whole,” he says. Corey felt touched that UTI was giving veterans their own space, and this made a significant impact on his experience.

A Unique Path

UTI graduate Corey Hedge automotive program diesel program Ford FACT program with his family at graduation

One day, a company called Bombardier Transportation contacted the UTI employment center and asked for candidates who met a certain criteria to take a test. One of these candidates was Corey.

Corey went into the employment center and took the test, not knowing what to expect. The next day, Bombardier contacted him asking him to come in for an interview. The following day, they called Corey and asked if he would be interested in joining their team!

At the time, Corey was still finishing his education at UTI. He was also involved on campus as a tutor. He asked Bombardier if he could finish his program first, and he ended up graduating and starting with the company the following Monday. His hard work and dedication certainly paid off, as he had a job lined up before he even graduated! 

Pursuing a Career with Bombardier Transportation 

Bombardier Transportation is a global leader in the transportation industry, creating innovative and game-changing planes and trains. Their products and services provide world-class transportation experiences that set new standards in passenger comfort, energy efficiency, safety and reliability. 

Corey works on the transportation side of the business, which covers the full spectrum of rail solutions and maintains the fleet for the southern California railroad metrolink program. According to Corey, this is a program that will never go away, as people will always rely on public transportation. The southern California railroad is growing, and it’s a huge reason why both pollution and traffic have decreased.

As a composite mechanic, he inspects the interior and exteriors of passenger trains in the local area. He also does air brake testing, manipulating the controls at both ends to test for any defects and to make sure everything is operating properly and abides by the codes.

Now, you might be wondering, “How did Corey use his education from UTI to work on trains?” 

While Corey was a little bit nervous to work on trains because he had never done so before, his education from UTI provided him with the foundation he needed. 

“The knowledge UTI gave me really prepared me for it because it’s all the same, you just need to look at it from a smaller scale,” Corey says. Many of the principals and theories he learned at UTI translate to the railroad industry, which Corey claims gave him an advantage. Ultimately, UTI taught him how to identify problems and create solutions, which is what he does on the job every day.

The Industry Needs More Techs 

The need for qualified technicians continues to grow across a wide variety of industries. According to Corey, “In the mechanical field, there’s always going to be something that someone needs from a technician. That’s the way that the world is.”

“We’re always going to be advancing and needing people to operate and maintain anything that makes our lives easier,” Corey continues. Cars, planes, motorcycles, boats, trains and trucks all need somebody there to maintain them—which is what technicians specialize in. The transportation industry offers job security and exciting opportunities for those who love to work with their hands and have a mechanical mindset.

Corey’s Advice for Aspiring Technicians 

Corey is a true example of someone who has used his education to blaze a new trail and pursue his passion. When it comes to giving advice to aspiring technicians, he says, “If you love it, go for it.” A lot of people chase money these days and while it’s important, if you do what you love, the money will come.

“I love being a technician. It’s in my blood. It’s passed down to me from my father and his father. There’s something satisfying about taking something that’s not working properly or working at all and making it work with your own bare hands,” Corey shares.  

For those interested in this career path, Corey’s advice is to take it seriously. If you love it, invest in it. He recommends UTI to anyone who might be interested in pursuing a career in the industry, especially if you have no prior knowledge. 

“UTI sets everything up for you, from the books to hands-on practical testing. Everything is set up for you to excel, it’s just up to you to put the effort in. They will push you to thrive in the industry, not just survive,” he says. In turn, you’ll be able to learn a specialty craft that will enable you to stay in this field for a long time.

In Corey’s free time, he can be found working on his motorcycle or playing with his kids. He has a 5-year-old son and 1-year-old boy and girl twins! It’s all about family for Corey. He spends as much time as he can with his kids—after all, he does this for them.

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