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, employer branding, and digital media. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. She currently resides in Maine with her husband and three dogs. 

Stereotypes can't stand in the way of Crystal's passion for mechanical engineering

Crystal Gwinn

Crystal Gwynn spent countless hours in her childhood watching over her dad’s shoulder as he worked on cars. Even a standard oil change was fascinating to her. As a high achiever, she was committed to performing highly in academics, sports and extracurricular activities. But all the while, Crystal held a passion and curiosity for mechanics.

“When I was about 15, a family friend was working as a mechanic, and I asked to work in his shop during the summer,” she said. “He said that no man would let a woman work on his car and that I might get hurt.”

That challenge was all it took for Crystal to set her sights on something bigger — something that others said she couldn't do. From that summer on, Crystal attended engineering camp and explored the different types of engineering she would one day claim as a career.

I thought, if guys won’t let me work on their cars, I’m gonna go ahead and design, develop and test the engine. I’ve always been stubborn. If you tell me I can’t do something, I will do it even better.

And that’s exactly what she did. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and her master’s at the University of Illinois, Crystal completed a rotational engineering program at Ford Motor Company. In 2005, she returned to her roots in North Carolina to work at Cummins.

Meeting critical transport needs

Now, as a team manager for the Cummins Rocky Mount Tech Center, Crystal manages the implementation of new programs and products, offering end-to-end product support. On each project she oversees, her goal is to have a zero-defect launch with no issues in quality or assembly.

I empower my team to make decisions in rolling out new programs. Our engines are going out to Europe, South America, North America and all around the world. It’s our job to make sure no issues reach the customer.

Crystal’s impact goes beyond the technicalities of testing. As a mother of two, she knows how important it is that communities have reliable transportation to depend on — whether it’s a city bus, delivery van, semi-truck or school bus, Crystal’s work keeps vehicles moving safely.

“I don’t want to think about my daughters not being able to get to school if their school bus breaks down,” Crystal said. “Several people in my family are truck drivers, too. If I can help people get from point A to point B without breaking down, then I’m doing my part.”

With family working in transportation, Crystal knows firsthand the impact of Cummins’ reliability and innovation in the field. It goes beyond spec sheets — drivers on the road know they can depend on Cummins products.

“People come to me and they say they love Cummins,” Crystal said. “Even if there is an issue, they know they will get a swift response and good service. People have pride in the brand because not only does Cummins have better quality engines, but we really care about our customers and end-users.”

Committed to powering a more prosperous (and inclusive) world

Cummins may be a power technology company, but we’re focused on people first. We’re committed to creating a culture of inclusion where all people are empowered to be their best selves, no matter your gender, race, orientation or culture.

“Being a woman in engineering, there can be a lot of ignorant stereotypes you have to deal with,” Crystal said.

At Cummins, I haven’t had a lot of obstacles because the company is so driven by diversity and inclusion. The leadership team is incredibly diverse, and that representation at the next level makes me feel represented and empowered.

At Cummins, diversity isn’t about fulfilling quotas and checking boxes — it’s about hiring people committed to excellence and informed by unique perspectives. We want our company to look like our communities, so we’re always searching for new ways to enrich our workforce.

“Cummins is taking inclusion to the next level with new hiring initiatives to recruit and accommodate neurodiverse and differently-abled individuals,” Crystal said. “Inclusion goes beyond hiring, too. No matter who we hire, we ensure we can retain them by creating a successful, inclusive, happy environment. No matter who you are, what you look like or where you come from, you can be successful here.

Interested in learning more about a Career at Cummins? Check out our Careers site.

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

Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employer branding, and digital media. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. She currently resides in Maine with her husband and three dogs. 

Interested in technology and mechanics? Consider a technical career in this industry.

Interested in technology and mechanics? Consider a technical career in this industry.

If you are interested in technology and mechanics, a career within the oil and gas sector could be the right fit for you. 

Technical careers within the oil & gas sector offer on-the-job education, good compensation and more importantly, a fulfilling experience while working on various mechanical and electronic equipment, including several engine technologies. 

The energy sector is going through a transformation to build a cleaner future for our communities, and oil and gas are still going to play an important role in our energy mix during this transformation. Cummins is constantly striving to reduce emissions from its diesel and natural gas products while developing low- and no-carbon technologies such as electrification and hydrogen fuel cells as the infrastructure grows to support them.

Why the focus on engine technologies? 

Building and operating a well site typically takes more than 100 engines to be present at different times. It all starts with the site preparation where dirt is moved, and the site is prepped to construct a well pad. At this early stage, engines power machinery ranging from earth moving equipment and cranes to various sized trucks. The second step is drilling down to start the well; a typical drilling rig has many engines on it. Once the drilling is completed, frac rigs, powered by large engines, come to the site to service the well. Finally, once the pressure pumping is done, the well is ready to produce hydrocarbons for many years to come. 

Let’s look closer at how a diverse set of engine applications bring a well site to life. 

Engines that power various oil and gas equipment

Large equipment including frac rigs, cementers, blenders, compressors, and drilling power modules are working throughout drilling sites; and drilling sites are great for anyone enthusiastic about mechanics and electronics. 

Engines power various oil & gas equipment at a well site
Engines power various oil & gas equipment at a well site

Early on in a drilling site, you would see drilling power modules, often powered by high horsepower engines such as a Cummins QSK50, creating the well and the borehole. Then pumps, powered with smaller engines such as the Cummins QSL9, are used to seal the spaces between casing and borehole walls. Then comes the frac rigs with the power and equipment necessary to pump the water and additives that crack the rocks where hydrocarbons are captured. Often a set of twelve or more of this equipment works together at each wellhead. These pumps are powered by engines as large and heavy as passenger cars, such as the Cummins QSK60. These engines are powerful enough to create enough pressure to crack the rocks that are more than a mile beneath the ground. 

Once you add the other drilling equipment including hydration units, blenders and various pumps, you have engines ranging from less than 100 horsepower up to 3,000 horsepower.

Engines that power vehicles

A drilling site features many vehicles ranging from smaller pick-up trucks to class 8 heavy-duty trucks. Pick-up trucks, often powered by a Cummins 6.7L engine, are used to haul small mobile equipment, and for transportation. Larger class 8 heavy-duty trucks haul the pressure pumps from one well site to another as needed. About one-third of these trucks depend on Cummins engines, often a Cummins L9 up to the X15 engines.

The oil and gas sector offers a diverse set of technical career opportunities, and familiarity with engine technologies comes in handy if you are interested in a future in the sector. Today’s modern engines are engineering marvels; thanks to a combination of advancements in fuel systems and emission reduction technologies. Ensure you stay up to date with the latest in engine and power technologies. 

Sign up below to receive periodic insights, updates and news relevant to the oil and gas industry. Check out careers at Cummins if you are interested in technical job opportunities. To learn more about oil and gas power solutions Cummins offers, visit our webpage.

Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

Brett balances a passion for design while balancing budgets at Cummins

The left brain/right brain theory says that most people use one side of their brain slightly more than the other. Left-brained individuals are known to be analytical and methodical, and right-brained people tend to be creative and artistic.

Luckily for Cummins, finance associate Brett Mehringer brings a little of both sides to everything he does.

Growing up on a farm in Bedford, Indiana, Brett has always felt at home in the great outdoors — but he found his calling in the great indoors, too. With his side hustle of freelance interior design, Brett explores his creativity by helping friends and family make their spaces feel like home.

One of Brett's favorite designs - his living room
One of Brett's favorite designs - his living room

“Even as a kid on the farm, I painted my room a thousand times,” Brett said. “I was always painting furniture and finding new stuff for our home. The first thing I ever painted was my mom’s dresser as a kid, and from

there I was hooked.”

Interior design is a chance for Brett to flex both his right-brain and left-brain talents to produce beautiful and functional spaces.

“As a mathematical, analytical person, I really enjoy the design theory and the technique behind interior design, in addition to the creativity,” Brett said. “It’s a huge de-stressor for me when I can design and paint.”

And while at work he’s responsible for tracking and maintaining finances, he can sometimes throw budgets to the wind when exploring a new space’s potential.

“I’m usually thinking ‘What can I do with this space?’ and my husband is usually thinking ‘What’s that gonna cost me?!’” Brett said.

Brett began his professional career working in logistics close to home in Bloomington, Indiana, later moving for a job in Kentucky where he met his husband. They moved to Indiana together in 2017 when Brett first joined Cummins as a senior material planner.

“My grandpa had worked at Cummins years ago, so that’s where I first heard about the company. I knew Cummins would offer a good career path with opportunities to earn a competitive salary and move up in the industry.”

After working almost two years in material planning, Brett made a major career change when he joined the communications team as a finance associate. His interest in finance came as a bit of a surprise to him. Coming from the fast pace and high intensity of a logistics role, he found himself enjoying the slower pace and meticulous work of finance, effectively engaging his left-brain skills within a department of right-brained communicators.

I never thought I’d be interested in finance, and I’m so grateful that mobility is encouraged at Cummins. You’re not put in a box based on your role, and your managers and mentors encourage you to take risks. Without that flexibility, I would have never found this role that I’m thriving in.

Beyond his work in finance, Brett is an active member of the LGBTQ Employee Resource Group at Cummins, which is just one of the many resource groups that offer support for employees through events, training and mentorship.

I knew that Cummins was a big supporter of diversity and inclusion. Whether it’s the LGBTQ community, women’s empowerment, the black community and more — that inclusion and support has always been important to me.

Brett and his bike in IndianapolisRaised working on the farm and attending Christian school, Brett is a man who is firm in his values — the greatest of which are respect and kindness for everyone. He attributes his values today to the lessons taught to him by his parents.

“My parents love all people,” Brett said. “They love giving to others and they showed me the fundamentals of kindness. They were constantly instilling in us that kindness is everything. They taught us the rights and the wrongs, and I live by those standards still today.”

You’ll see evidence of this after spending just a few minutes with Brett. In true Midwestern fashion, he’s the first to say hello and strike up a conversation with just about anybody. Brett values the joy of human connection in his personal life and at work.

I’ve always loved how welcomed and comfortable I feel going to work. It’s a great feeling knowing that I don’t have to pretend to be a certain way. It feels like home, and I know it’s a safe place for me.

At Cummins, we take diversity and inclusion beyond buzzwords and quotas. We believe everyone deserves a seat at the table, and everyone’s voice should be heard. Diverse perspectives and experiences lay the foundation for innovation.

“Cummins isn’t what you may expect from an engine manufacturer in the Midwest,” Brett said. “It’s not all one mindset, one race or one lifestyle. All the different people around me have amazing talent that comes from their different experiences and backgrounds. When I walk into a room, not everyone looks like me — and that’s really refreshing.”


Interested in a career at Cummins? Click here to get started. 

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

Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employer branding, and digital media. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. She currently resides in Maine with her husband and three dogs. 

Chelsea develops skills to become an industry expert in New Power

Chelsea Yuan

“I am up for the challenge” is a phrase you'll hear on a day-to-day basis from Product Marketing Manager Chelsea Yuan, who throughout her 11 years at Cummins, has always been on the look-out for new problems to solve. Joining the New Power team at its Beijing, China-based facility in 2020, she sought out her latest mission: to build awareness and lay the foundation for the zero-emission technology market in China.

My most recent role as the product marketing manager for New Power’s China-based markets presents another exciting opportunity for me: placing my focus on the hydrogen market and Cummins fuel cell and hydrogen products. China and the global hydrogen industry are rapidly growing, and there are a lot of new opportunities every day.

With the news that Cummins fuel cells will power buses at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China and plans for a new hydrogen and fuel cell lab in the region, Cummins New Power continues to strengthen its presence in China. Chelsea’s role is crucial in building awareness of our technologies. Serving as a product marketing manager in Beijing, Chelsea is responsible for a range of marketing tasks, from building vital communication plans and analyzing marketing data in the hydrogen and fuel cell space, to forming relationships with key industry associations. Chelsea is always keen to optimize promotional opportunities for New Power. “I am always looking for new ways that we can demonstrate our products, whether that be through speeches at industry conferences, product displays at exhibitions or even online. These are all powerful marketing tools that I utilize daily.”

From industry stranger to industry expert

When starting a role in New Power, passion and dedication to learning are vital and that's exactly what Chelsea has shown. Although at first unfamiliar with the alternative power market and technology, she set a goal for herself to change from an industry stranger to an industry expert using the power of networking. “I spent my first three months focused on learning through building relationships with industry associations, joining external meetings, attending exhibitions and connecting with market insiders. I am a part of a group chat on WeChat made up of industry experts from all over China, and we post the latest news and communicate regularly. Not only do I know them because of my work, but they’ve become friends.”

Chelsea is keen to continue learning and is determined to maximize all opportunities that come her way.

I believe opportunities often exist where you would least expect. Some people may not see them or understand them. Only a few people grasp the opportunity and achieve success, and my aim is to become one of those people.

Keeping busy during quarantine

2020 has been a year like no other; many people were confined to their homes and finding motivation was a challenge for most. However, Chelsea took full advantage of this time, taking it upon herself to create a marketing tool for her team. “I used my time in lockdown to create a marketing dashboard for our team. I collected and analyzed hydrogen and fuel cell market data, looking at fuel cell vehicle sales over the past three years, government policies as well as data from our competitors.” Supporting the team is always Chelsea’s number one priority. “The data in the dashboard helped the team to understand the full picture of the market; each person in the team can now use the data for their own requirements.”

Connecting with teams globally

ChelseaCollaboration across global teams is a key component to New Power’s success, and Chelsea doesn't let the difference in time-zones stop her from communicating with her colleagues across the pond. Chelsea adapts her day to make sure she can attend vital meetings with various New Power teams across the world. “Because of the time zones, it means that myself and the team in the United States are not usually online at the same time, so when needed, I adapt my working hours so I can attend meetings with my colleagues in the U.S. and other parts of the world.” With the New Power team in China still evolving, Chelsea sees this as a vital ingredient to the team’s success, “Because the New Power team in China is new, we're learning best practices from global team members, which we can then transfer and use in our team.”

New Power China is such a warm and energetic team; everyone is working hard towards one target. We are one big family, and everyone has their own unique gift that they bring to the team.

Chelsea is highly organized with her work, but outside of work, she seeks travel adventures, “I enjoy travelling, I don’t set a fixed itinerary for my trips, I just set off and see where I end up, it's the unexpected surprises during the trip which I love.”

As New Power continues to expand its capabilities in China, Chelsea will be on the lookout for new opportunities to help Cummins technologies and presence continue to grow in the region. 


Interested in a career at Cummins? Check out our Careers site.

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



Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employer branding, and digital media. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. She currently resides in Maine with her husband and three dogs. 

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