National Apprenticeship Week 2023

Christopher Burnette '23 National Apprenticeship Week November 13-19, 2023

November 15, 2023

In this series of stories during National Apprenticeship Week, we speak with VU students and alumni about their life-changing apprenticeship experiences.




The partnership between Columbus, Ind.-based Cummins and Vincennes University began in 2017 with the Diesel Engine program and continued with the Power Generation program in 2019. VU is currently the only university in the U.S. that partners with Cummins in a Power Generation program. Cummins employees come from all but one of the 50 states, including Hawaii. During the apprenticeship program, the Cummins employees/VU Diesel Technology majors work more than 40 hours per week. They do all of their general education courses online. Their core Power Generation classes are done in a hybrid model with both hands-on and online learning, and are taught by Cummins-certified VU instructors who participate in hours of training both online and at their training facilities in Minnesota and Missouri.

What is your role with Cummins?

I am currently a field service power generation technician with the knowledge to also work on fixed-location diesel engines. 

What were you doing before you joined the Cummins TAP program? 

Before I came to Cummins, I had graduated from the Boilermakers Apprenticeship and worked on industrial sites, building, maintaining, and repairing industrial boilers for nearly two decades.  

Why did you choose an apprenticeship? 

I chose an apprenticeship to gain valuable hands-on experience in a specialized field.

What are your key highlights from the TAP apprenticeship program? 

My key highlights in Cummins’ apprentice program would be meeting and making new friends, gaining in-depth knowledge on medium and heavy-duty diesel engines, and electrical theory from essential to advanced understanding of how and why generators work.

How has your apprenticeship helped you grow professionally and personally?

The apprenticeship program has helped me grow personally and professionally by allowing me to earn a college degree without the debt usually associated with degrees. Likewise, the courses I have taken during my degree have improved my communication skills and confidence, opening possibilities once unattainable as a skilled worker. The apprenticeship program has given me pride in what I do again as a career.

What do you hope the apprenticeship will offer you in the future?

I hope graduating from the apprenticeship opens new doors in the long run and enables me to return to a respectable salary range.

What advice would you give someone who is considering joining an apprenticeship program? 

I would advise you to pick an apprenticeship program in a field you already enjoy working around. Do not base your choice solely on salary. Likewise, look for an apprenticeship program that offers an actual college degree.

Explore VU’s website at for more information about apprenticeship programs or contact the VU Admissions Office.

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