By Roger A. Bowles, MS, EdD, CBET
Summer enrollment is up with 110 students and fall 2019 is looking very promising. Like most programs, we still struggle with budget. We rely heavily on donation of equipment from hospitals and independent service organizations. Our alumni help out tremendously in this regard. Like most programs, we wish we had more support from medical equipment manufacturers.
Over the past 22 years, I can only remember a couple of occasions where manufacturers donated equipment to our program despite reaching out and asking on multiple occasions. Plus, we do regularly place students with OEMs as field service representatives and this is increasing. We are extremely grateful for the couple that have supported us in the past.
I am not a tax attorney, but I was under the impression that equipment donations to public colleges that do not operate for profit are tax deductible. Perhaps we are approaching them in the wrong way. We have approached a couple of the major OEMs with partnership ideas, but usually we run into a problem with “policy” … theirs, not ours.
About three years ago, the state infused some money into our program with which we judiciously spent on newer equipment in several categories. We mainly looked to replace equipment that was so obsolete or unusable that it was no longer of value to our program. We tried to pick newer equipment that was valuable for teaching several methodologies or technologies.
Without getting too specific, one of the purchases was three pieces of the same equipment from one manufacturer. The equipment has served us well, but we has a slight problem with one of the units after about a year of use. We have an account with this OEM. We looked the part up on their website and ordered it. About a month later, after receiving and installing the part, the manufacturer called us and informed us that the price was wrong on their website and we needed to send them a check for $2,000 or send the part back. After explaining the best I could about our situation, and that I was sorry that they had originally mispriced their own product on their own webpage, they refused to budge. We were disappointed that a major manufacturer would display this type of poor customer service. I asked them what would happen if I called students that graduated two months ago and explained to them that the price for tuition they paid for their degree was incorrect and that they would have to send a $2,000 check to make up the difference or send back their degree. They did not see the relevance of my example. Obviously, I will not call them out by name in this article, but the students certainly know about it.
It is my hope, and probably that of many others, that OEMs will join forces with colleges that offer HTM programs to increase the number of quality graduates in the future by occasionally donating demo or trade-in equipment. At the very least, they could cut us a break on pricing of parts (especially when they have the wrong part listed on their website).
Ending on a positive note, the biomedical equipment technology program at Texas State Technical College was recently recognized by Texas Governor Greg Abbott for excellence in 2019. We are proud to be have one of the finest teams in Texas!
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