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Caterpillar simulators will help start heavy equipment operator program at PHCC



Patrick Henry Community College just got a large delivery –two new Heavy Equipment Caterpillar Simulators and a Caterpillar Trailer. These large new installments, which were purchased with assistance from the Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund, pave the way for a new Heavy Equipment Operator program which is slated to start on January 19, 2021.

The state-of-the-art Caterpillar Simulators feature rotating motion platforms and offer a 3-D virtual reality experience that replicates real-life operating scenarios. Through a hybrid of online classwork and in-person training on the simulator, students will learn heavy equipment safety, basic operational techniques, the basics of earthmoving, and how to interpret civil drawings.

In just four months, the program prepares students to operate excavators, wheel loader equipment, and more. Locally, employers are advertising $18–28 per hour starting salaries for full-time heavy equipment operators. Local employers, such as Prillaman & Pace and Henry County Public Service Authority, have guaranteed job interviews to anyone who successfully completes the new program at PHCC. The college is also partnering with the Virginia Heavy Construction Contractors Association to help connect graduates with even more employment opportunities.

Tuition for the program is $4,500, but funding sources are available that may cover up to 100% of tuition. For instance, the program is eligible for Fast Forward Virginia which covers two-thirds of the tuition. It is also eligible for VA Ready which also offers eligible students a $1,000 incentive bonus for completing the program. Finally, it is also an eligible program for the new Re-Employing Virginia Tuition Voucher initiative which covers up to $1,500 for part-time classes like this.

On top of all this, it is also one of the programs in the college’s Treats for the Trades December Drawing. Students who enroll in this program (or in plumbing or in Industry 4.0) before December 11 will automatically be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift card and PHCC goodies.

Interested students should contact wecd@patrickhenry.edu or call 276-656-0260.

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