Toombs Co. students receive hands-on training through the Heavy Equipment Operations Pathway

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 4:37 PM EDT
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TOOMBS COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Toombs County High School was the first school in the state to have a Heavy Equipment Operations Pathway for students.

Now, six other schools across the state have it as well.

The school says they created the pathway after businesses in the community were concerned that there weren’t enough people willing and able to operate heavy machinery.

The Heavy Equipment Operations Pathway has three courses that take about a year and half to complete. The introduction course started last year, but this is the first year that all three courses are offered and that the students have these simulators to practice on.

The simulators are for an excavator and a bulldozer, and the students work to pass the various lessons on them. The simulators are very real and not as easy as they look.

It has a motion seat that lets the students feel when they’ve dug too hard or are riding on rough ground. The school says being able to offer this pathway is thanks to approval from the Department of Education for a Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education grant.

It’s also made possible with community partners such as McClendon Enterprises. The hands-on learning will have students ready to walk right into this career field after graduation.

“What is amazing about it is our local industry people have set up a deal where we do a capstone project with them at the very end. Once they become certified on the simulators, then they work with McClendon Enterprises and they’ll actually get on real equipment and complete a, kind of, final exam if you’d say,” said instructor Tom Brodnax.

“We get job opportunities after this and I don’t really know what I want to do after I graduate, so I guess this is just one more thing I can fall back on,” said senior Clayton Porras.

Brodnax says this is the first year they’ll have students graduate from the pathway. He says the future of it is bright, he hopes to use Oculus virtual reality in the class soon as well.

The school says they created the pathway after businesses in the community were concerned that there weren’t enough people willing and able to operate heavy machinery.