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VIDEO: Career Academy in Georgia Receives State Grant to Buy Heavy Equipment Simulators

Thu July 27, 2023 - Southeast Edition #18
Brunswick News & CEG

Students at the Golden Isles College and Career Academy (GICCA) in Brunswick, Ga., will have new opportunities to gain experience in operating heavy construction equipment when four new full-motion simulators are installed.

According to the Brunswick News, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) recently awarded GICCA a $417,000 grant to support the school's new heavy equipment operations pathway. The funds will be used to purchase four Caterpillar Motion Platform Simulators to supplement the two existing desktop simulators the Career Academy installed earlier this year.

Each motion simulator costs $100,000 and features the same controls as the real machines, which will more easily help students in the pathway transition into construction jobs. The controls can be converted to simulate those of a bulldozer and hydraulic excavator.

They also mimic realistic movements, vibrations and sounds found on a construction site.

GICCA began offering the heavy equipment operations pathway during the 2022-23 school year. As part of the pathway's training, students also are able to attend field trips to observe heavy equipment in action.

Joseph Depenhart, principal of GICCA and director of career, technical and agricultural education for Glynn County Schools, said this new pathway at the school and the installation of four new simulators also will benefit the community as a whole.

"We are very grateful that the Georgia Department of Education has selected Glynn County for this fantastic opportunity," he told the Brunswick News. "As with many jobs in construction and industry, there continues to be a major demand for workers with skills and knowledge necessary to operate heavy equipment.

"This generous training package we have been granted, combined with our strong relationship with [Brunswick's] Seaboard Construction, will enable us to prepare Glynn County students to fill immediate positions upon graduation from high school," Depenhart continued. "This is an exciting opportunity to continue GICCA's work of providing skilled workers to keep Glynn County moving forward."

The Brunswick News reported that GICCA plans to add more new career pathways this coming school year, including those focused on fire and emergency services, dental science and career-ready workforce.

Simulator Proficiency a Pathway to Good-Paying Jobs

Prior to completing the heavy equipment pathway, students will have the opportunity to complete capstone projects, for which they will perform tasks on real equipment during trips hosted by GICCA's local construction partner Seaboard Construction, an asphalt paving, grading and utility contractor.

During the capstones, seasoned operators will monitor the students and make sure they adhere to safety guidelines. Students who successfully complete the pathway will have the opportunity to enter into work-based learning and internships within the construction industry.

"This is great news for Glynn and the surrounding counties," noted Jeff Kicklighter, Seaboard's president. "I would like to thank [Superintendent) Dr. Scott Spence and [Glynn County School Board Member] Jerry Mancil for their commitment to the community as well as Dr. Joseph Depenhart and Jeff Holland [GICCA's construction instructor] for their hard work with this pathway."

In addition, Kicklighter gave a nod to the Georgia Highway Contractors Association for their assistance in the program.

"Seaboard is committed to the partnership with GICCA, not only for [us] but for other contractors seeking young, excited equipment operators to fulfill the needs of our industry," he said.

In speaking with the Brunswick News, Brian Weese, CEO of the GICCA Foundation noted, "This investment in our local workforce will provide Glynn County students with a new career option into in-demand high-paying careers in the construction field, and we hope our partnership with Seaboard Construction will create a seamless transition from classroom to career for many of these students."

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