Virtual Training is New Reality at Washburn Tech

July 12, 2017

 Topeka, Kan. – Imagine being able to load a dump truck with dirt by entering a code on a keyboard or digging a hole by inputting GPS coordinates into a computer?

Virtual training is the new reality for students in the commercial and heavy construction program at Washburn University Institute of Technology (Washburn Tech). The recent addition of a CAT hydraulic excavator simulator is enabling students to become proficient in the machine’s essential operating techniques under supervision of an instructor which streamline their transition to the actual equipment.

Acquisition of the hydraulic excavator simulator was made possible by a $50,000 grant supported by Jobs and Innovative Industry Skills Training (JIIST). The competitive grant was offered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The project was supported by a matching grant from the Kansas Contractors Association, which has a long history of supporting the Commercial and Heavy Construction program at Washburn Tech.

According to the program’s instructor, Mike Evenson, the pairing of technology with heavy equipment is indeed ushering the Age of Smart Iron, a term coined by executives at Caterpillar Inc., the makers of the simulator. Washburn Tech students will train on the simulator one month before moving to the actual equipment, which can reduce overall training time by an average of 41 percent and increase profitability in fuel reduction.

A variety of training exercises address each of the skills associated with different work environments. Authentic controls and rich graphics create a virtual world for the student to experience training in procedures such as machine walkaround, bucket placement, backfilling and bench loading. The combination of simulated worksite applications and conditions with realistic controls also provides hands-on learning in a safe and economical way to enhance traditional operator training.