Illinois Eastern Community Colleges West Richland Center in Noble hosted the Olney and Richland County Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21.
During the open house, the public learned more about IECC’s technical programs and toured the renovated West Richland Center. The site houses Truck Driving, Cosmetology, Phlebotomy, Massage Therapy and Culinary Arts and will be home to Olney Central College’s new Nail Technology Program, which starts this fall. A number of special interest classes including quilting, woodworking and Zumba also are held at the site.
Visitors also got to see the Truck Driving Program’s new training simulator and 2017 Volvo semi-tractor, which were purchased through a U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration grant. The grant helped IECC purchase the equipment necessary to expand the Truck Driving program with matching funds for a trucking simulator and rig for instruction.
“IECC is very excited to receive this grant,” said Terry Bruce, CEO, who noted the community college district partnered with the Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission to apply for the EDA investment. “The funds from this grant will allow our instructors to use the latest technology and provide the highest quality training.”
Instructor Tom Sarg said the simulator enables students to experience what it is like to drive a semi-tractor trailer and to practice shifting gears. Students sit in a chair and navigate using three 55-inch monitors that give them a panoramic view.
Sarg said the equipment can be programmed to simulate country, city or interstate travel. Various driving conditions also can be selected including snow, rain and fog. The settings also can be adjusted to give students experience driving different types of trucks and transporting light to heavy loads.
“It is a tremendous training tool,” Sarg said. “Students shift gears just as they would in the truck and the seat has motion. It moves back and forth and gives you the feel of actually driving a truck. The simulator will be a big help in reducing the wear and tear on the new truck as students can learn to shift on it.”
Sarg said students also are excited about the new semi-tractor, which arrived earlier this month.
“They really enjoy the shifting and feel of it,” he said.
Sarg noted the bed and cabinets were removed from the sleeper cab so additional seats with safety belts could be installed. This will enable two students to safely observe while a third drives.
The total project investment is expected to be $285,000, with exactly half provided by the Department of Commerce in Economic Adjustment Assistance through EDA’s Regional Logistics Training Program. EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process based upon an application’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility, and the availability of funds.