Wake Technical Community College announced it will launch a high-tech Heavy Equipment Operator training program in January.
According to Wake Technical, 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, 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,”Wake Tech President Dr. Stephen Scott stated.
Heavy equipment simulators will eliminate the need for costly equipment repairs or upgrades to outdated machinery.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.
Wake Technical said it 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 are expected to grow by 23 per cent 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. The college 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.