Students in Automotive Technology program receive gift on wheels  

Farmers across the U.S. can’t farm without equipment, and that equipment must be serviced, diagnosed, and repaired by qualified technicians. Students in Pitt State’s Diesel and Heavy Equipment program who one day will do that now have a brand new $150,000 piece of equipment on which to learn.

A New Holland Speedrower 220 was donated by Kelly Burgess, a graduate of the Automotive program (BST ’01), and Pittsburg native on behalf of Case New Holland — a global company that manufactures agricultural equipment.

Automotive donation 

Burgess is an electrification specialist with CNH and was named one of Pitt State’s Outstanding Alumni in 2023. 

“To keep farmers farming, you must have students learning how to service what they use,” explained Professor Tim Dell, coordinator of the Diesel and Heavy Equipment program. “The general public probably doesn’t understand the numerous roles that are vital to agriculture beyond farming: operator, technician, service advisor at the dealership, technical hotlines, instructors. It’s incredibly broad.” 

Such jobs are in high demand and pay good salaries, Dell noted. 

Students will use it in the following courses to become familiar with its systems:

  • • Fluid Power
  • • Advanced Hydraulics
  • • Diesel Fundamentals
  • • Advanced Diesel Electronics
  • • Agricultural Powertrains and Systems


It also will be used for training in workshops offered to industry and instructors by the Kansas Center for Career and Technical Education at Pitt State. 

Burgess said no matter where Pitt State graduates wind up working, their having had experience with such equipment while in college will be incredibly valuable.  

“It contains so much that students will be able to lay their hands on and test right out of our service manual that represents machines they’ll come across in their professions,” he said. 

Greg Murray, director of the School of Automotive and Engineering Technology, said the donation was “significant” for a university this size; such equipment usually is found only in Division I universities.  

This is not the first donation that Burgess has helped facilitate for the program. In 2019, he represented CNH in a gift of more than $300,000 worth of heavy diesel equipment. He also is active in serving on advisory boards in the College of Technology. 

“A main pillar to CNH’s philanthropic philosophy is civic and community empowerment,” he said. “Inside of that pillar, education is a core component of our civic interests. I grew up here, and I very much appreciate the education I got. It’s my duty and my honor to steer these donations to Pitt State.” 

Case New Holland also actively recruits Pitt State students for internships and graduates for full-time positions. 

New scholarships

Kolton Crystal, who owns KC Specialized LLC trucking company, hauled the Speedrower from Grand Island, Nebraska to Pittsburg and asked that the $2,500 the university would have paid to cover his costs be given instead to scholarships.  

The Automotive program will match the donation, so starting this fall, four students each will be awarded a $1,250 scholarship for the 2024-25 academic year. 

“I can see the need for good mechanics every time I turn around,” Crystal said. “My end goal is that with the scholarships, they will have a big impact on four students, and that soon we’ll have four great mechanics out in the workforce. We need them.” 

About the Automotive Technology program 

Pitt State is recognized by the industry as offering one of the best Automotive Technology programs in the nation. It is part of the College of Technology and is housed in the Kansas Technology Center.

Learn more:

Automotive Technology