Brian Badge, Chair of Trade, at Northwest Community College in British Columbia is shaping careers in the heavy equipment industry.
Northwest Community College (NWCC) was established in 1975, has expanded to nine regional campus locations and is a recognized leader in Aboriginal education. Among the many programs offered at NWCC is the Heavy Equipment program. The curriculum that teaches operator training consists of Heavy Equipment Operator Foundation and Heavy Equipment Operator Technician, which is the Apprenticeship part of the program. The college serves both the construction and mining industries. The program consists of theoretical classroom training, simulator training and seat time on actual machines. Badge says that with “massive amounts of industry coming to town,” there was a need for a heavy equipment training program. “We are experiencing an industrial boom in British Columbia’s Northwest and expect this to continue over the next 10 to 15 years. Heavy Equipment Operators will be one of the most needed trades,” states Badge.
In addition to several class modules, students receive a minimum of 30 hours of simulator training. In the apprenticeship program, students receive another 8 hours of simulator training. Badge thinks the program is successful because the methods enforce multiple types of learning. Instructors love the simulators because they take some of the worry out of training when students train on simulators between the classroom and actual machines vs. moving directly from the classroom to the machines.
The simulator training takes place in the classroom and in a travel trailer. The college designed a 32’ trailer and outfitted it to carry the simulators on the road for training or to events. The trailer is heated and air conditioned so the temperature is always controlled. Currently there are six simulators inside the trailer; plus six more simulators in the classroom. Depending on the trailer’s destination, we can swap out the simulators. For example, when traveling to a mine site, instructors take the mining simulators and leave the civil construction simulators in the classroom. The instructors love the ability to change around the configurations between the trailer and the classroom, depending on which sector they are training. Badge says, “Because we’re starting to see major mines being proposed in our area of the province we’ll be looking at additional mining equipment simulators. We can see value in adding additional mining simulators to our mobile unit so we can train in the most remote areas.”
Badge shares that the college decided to incorporate simulators into the program because of the added value factor. “Students that come out of the program are better trained,” says Badge. Simulator training adds value in many different ways. The most simplistic is that simulators add controls familiarization. When the students get into the seat of the actual machine, they are already competent on what the controls do. Badge confirms, “It totally speeds up the learning process to use the simulators because when