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Video simulators put students behind the wheel

SMITHERS Instructors with Northwest Community Colleges (NWCC) School of Exploration & Mining have a new and exciting tool already in use in the classroom that is also being used in recruitment efforts for prospective students in the emerging sector. And what better way to get young people interested than to incorporate video simulators into the instructing and recruiting process The School of Exploration & Mining (SEM) has six Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) simulators, including excavator, front-end wheel loader and off highway truck simulators. Kirby Muldoe, SEMs Employment Advisor and Industry Liaison, says the video simulators are about as realistic as you can get without being on an actual machine. The simulator training is done on a computer, like a video game using hand-eye coordination and realistic hand and foot controls, said Muldoe. All of the controls are the same as you would find on an actual machine, and they give students a chance to learn without expensive and potentially dangerous machine time, when inexperienced. Muldoe says students spend approximately 40 hours working through each of the three simulator machines. A computer and facilitator track the student's progress and print out reports for the student and instructor to review. After 40 hours on a simulator, students have the hand-eye coordination that prepares them for success on the real machines. Once they have the skills and aptitude, they can confidently register for NWCCs ITA certified program in Hazelton, which utilizes full-size heavy equipment machinery. Muldoe added, In the future, we plan to have more simulators including bulldozer, grader and others such as a class 5 driving simulator. Margo Van der Touw, NWCCs Dean of Trades, says the simulators are leading edge technology for conducting aptitude and skills assessments as well as operator pre-training. The simulator technology is both practical and an invaluable instructional tool, said Van der Touw. The feedback weve received from current students, potential future students, employers and our instructors has all been positive. NWCCs School of Exploration & Mining is based in Smithers.

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