UTI Graduate David Hopf Finds a Clear Career Path in Diesel

"My favorite part about going to school was all the hands-on experience, I was never one for just sitting there getting a textbook thrown at me."

David Hopf always wanted to work for Foley Caterpillar in Piscataway, New Jersey. That's his local Caterpillar dealer, a brand manufacturing diesel equipment for industries including construction, mining, natural gas, industrial gas and more.

David's father is a mechanic, so David worked with him since he was a little kid, helping his dad fix cars for his business.

After high school, David went to community college for a year. He says it wasn't for him, so he started working full-time for his dad as a welder. One day, he decided he wanted to work on “big stuff.”

He reached out to Foley Caterpillar and asked them where they liked hiring from. The dealership told him Universal Technical Institute (UTI), where he could attend the Diesel Technology Program and learn about what he'd need to succeed in servicing powerful diesel trucks and engines. At the time, the Bloomfield, New Jersey, UTI location wasn't open. So David headed to Exton, Pennsylvania, to attend UTI.

He graduated UTI's diesel program in 2013. Three months before graduation, David got a job at Foley Caterpillar. He has worked at his dream job as a field service technician there ever since.

“I like that the scenery of where I work changes every day,” says David. “I like getting to travel all around and help people out. I just like fixing things and taking stuff apart and making it better than it was when I got there.”

David says every job site he goes to is different. The industry is constantly changing, like new developments in engines and after-treatment systems. The opportunity to constantly learn at work is exciting, too.

From Not Sure Where to Start to Inspiring Other Students

At UTI, David relished the opportunity to work on the same equipment he'd find out in the professional world, like at Foley Caterpillar.

“My favorite part about going to school was all the hands-on experience,” David says. “I was never one for just sitting there getting a textbook thrown at me.”

David says the insights from the instructors prepared him for what he does in his current role. Learning from those who had been there before really helped David.

“They've all been in this industry and have what it takes to have a long career doing this, so all their knowledge and experience prepared me most,” David says. “I liked all my instructors.”

David gave a commencement speech at his UTI graduation after his instructors asked him to. He says that was probably his favorite moment of school. It made him feel like he made the right decision going there and putting in all the hard work he did.

Advice for Those Considering UTI

David tells high school students who are thinking about becoming technicians, “This industry is constantly in need of technicians. It's a very smart move to make. It's a safe move to make. As long as you work hard, you'll do very well.”

David adds that considering options beyond a traditional four-year school can pay off for many students who are unsure of what to do next.

“I have parents of friends I have whose kids did get a four-year degree even tell me, 'Honestly, Dave, you're a lot better off,'” David says. “And I agree.”

UTI's diesel technician program is 45 weeks from start to finish. You could complete the program in less than a year at 1 of our 10 campuses offering it across the country.

UTI also offers diesel manufacturer-specific advanced training programs for brands including Cummins, Daimler and Peterbilt.

Request information for UTI's Diesel Technology Program


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