BIG SPRING, Texas — Howard college in big spring is using new technology to get students ahead of the game when it comes to jobs that use heavy machinery, which applies to a lot of different jobs in our area.

The Heavy Equipment operator course at Howard College opens the door for opportunity.

“They’re going to come in and get a good basic understanding of heavy equipment and how to run it and they’re going to come here and learn the basic controls they’re going to learn how to operate them and operate them safely we’re going to learn how to maintain them and how to watch for problems on them and once they get done with the class they’ll be able to go to a job and go in there with some experience and some confidence that they’re able to run that equipment,” said the instructor for the class, Josh Caudill.

Instead of getting students out on the machines immediately, Howard College is doing something different, the class uses simulations of heavy machinery so students can learn how to use them correctly.

“It’s fun, it’s kind of like playing a video game for a whole class period,” Said one of the students, AJ Cortez.

This course provides a safe and effective way to learn how to operate machinery that can be dangerous.

The college uses simulations to teach students how to safely and properly operate heavy machinery.

“This gives them a good controlled safe environment to get in there get familiar with the controls, get them familiar with what it does without cause or concern with them damaging themselves with the equipment, or someone around them.” Caudill said. 

After all is said and done, students can use the completion of their class to help them get a job and there are a lot out there.

“We just happen to live in an area of the country where it’s very industrial, there’s heavy equipment needed at every job, the refineries, down to the oil field, pipelines wind farms, you name it,” Claudill said.

Knowing how to operate heavy equipment in these industries can pay off literally.

“The average starting salary for a heavy equipment operator right now out there in this area is 30 dollars an hour,” Claudill said. “Right now with the amount of jobs there are and the skill it takes to run these pieces of equipment, they start you out pretty high and they get you out there pretty fast.”