BIG RAPIDS, Mich., Nov. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy is strengthening its ties to Ferris State University (FSU) with the donation of more than $10,000 worth of machinery and technology to its heavy equipment program. University and Consumers Energy officials gathered today in Big Rapids to see how the donated equipment is benefiting FSU, home to one of the country's top heavy equipment programs. The donation includes a small diesel-powered trenching machine and 10 laptop computers which were no longer being used by the company. The trencher will provide practical hands-on experience and the computers will assist in diagnosing engines and vehicles in the program's lab. "The diesel trencher's smaller size is a great addition to our training equipment and the computers greatly improve our engine and equipment diagnostic lab resources," said Dan Wanink, an associate professor and coordinator of Ferris State's heavy equipment program. "We appreciate this generous donation by Consumers Energy and how it enhances our ongoing business relationship." Consumers Energy's ties to FSU's heavy equipment program date back to the mid 1950s. Herb Parsons, father of recent Consumers Energy fleet services retiree Duey Parsons, played an important role in getting the program started when he arrived at Ferris State in 1953. Ferris is the only institution in Michigan offering a Fleet Management Certificate as well as a four-year Heavy Equipment Services Engineering Technology degree. This is of particular value to Consumers Energy, which has one of Michigan's largest vehicle fleets. Consumers Energy employs more than 180 Ferris State University alumni and regularly seeks students and graduates of this program when filling internships and full-time positions. Ten percent of the company's fleet services department are FSU graduates. The donation is the result of a February 2013 visit to campus by Consumers Energy fleet services leadership, said Jeffrey Shingler, director of fleet services for the company. "We came away with a very good impression of the program and began discussing internally how we can assist the university," Shingler said. In addition to donating the used equipment, Consumers Energy now has a representative on the FSU Heavy Equipment Advisory Board.