RALEIGH, N.C. (October 29, 2014) - Building contractors who depend on heavy equipment will soon have a new pipeline of skilled workers to operate that equipment. Wake Tech President Dr. Stephen Scott announced today that the college will launch a high-tech Heavy Equipment Operator training program in January 2015. The program will be among the first in the country to use simulators for training, and the only one of its kind in eastern North Carolina.
“Simulation is the future of higher education,” said Dr. Scott, “and this program is another prime example. Simulators will take the place of the heavy-duty vehicles and machinery currently used for training operators, solving a host of problems. Simulated training will be safer, more efficient, and much more cost-effective for businesses and taxpayers.”
Heavy equipment simulators will eliminate the need for costly (and time-consuming) equipment repairs or upgrades to outdated machinery. A simulated environment also eliminates the risk of worker injury and damage to equipment during training – and is not subject to weather delays. Simulators in the program include backhoes, excavators, bulldozers with grade control and motor graders.
“Along with extensive knowledge of the enormous machines they’re controlling, Heavy Equipment Operators need keen hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and precision movements,” said department head Ronnie Lowe. “These simulators will provide the hands-on training students need to build those skills and become proficient.”
Wake Tech has made it a practice to design training programs with input from industry, and this program is no exception. The college has worked with construction industry representatives to verify their needs and develop the program accordingly – and local companies have agreed to provide Wake Tech students with hands-on training. Surveys show that the average age of qualified heavy equipment operators is 53, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in the Triangle are expected to grow by 23% over the next six years.
The new Wake Tech program will fill a void left in eastern North Carolina when Wilson Community College closed its program three years ago. Wake Tech will start its program as a one-year diploma, with plans to expand it to a two-year associate’s degree. Stanly Community College in Albemarle is the only other North Carolina Community College that offers a Heavy Equipment Operator program. Wake Tech also offers a Heavy Equipment and Transport Technology program, which trains technicians to repair these vehicles. For more information, visithttp://heavyequipment.waketech.edu.