MHS students get to work with heavy equipment

Monroe High School held its first-ever Heavy Equipment Day for students in Career and Technical Education programs.

Industry professionals brought equipment on-site, offered hands-on learning experiences and shared information about post-secondary career opportunities and training.

Partner organizations that provided guest speakers and equipment for the Heavy Equipment Day included Michigan CAT, the Michigan County Road Commission, Kwest Group, Thoma Trucking and Bulldozing, Local 324 – Operating Engineers, and MISS DIG 811. Classes rotated among several stations that included using CAT simulator equipment, maneuvering a real crane and miniexcavator, listening to guest speakers, and participating in Q&A sessions.

Student Joey Kidd learns how to use a Kwest Cat Simulator during Heavy Equipment Days at Monroe High School. (Provided By Monroe Public Schools)

Students used the crane to pick up a traffic cone, move it, and place it on a pylon. A similar exercise was set up with the mini-excavator. The activities provided an introduction to the heavy equipment and an exciting first experience for many students. Kwest Group brought a trailer outfitted with state-of-the-art CAT simulator equipment with three software modules – excavator, loader, and dozer. Roger Kidd, Kwest CFO, has a son in Marchese’s Construction Fundamentals class and was pleased to be able to provide the simulator experience to the MHS students.

Students watch a demonstration of a crane. (Provided by Monroe Public Schools)
Monroe High School student Cole Hoffner uses a mini-excavator during Heavy Equipment Day, which offered hands-on experiences and career information for students. (Provided by Monroe Public Schools)

“The construction workforce is aging out, and new workers are needed,” Kidd stated. “You can make a good income in the industry, and the demand for these skills is increasing.”

Kwest offers entry-level, intermediate, and advanced simulator training, for operator certification at levels A through E. Workers can also take classes at Kwest while working on the job, hone their skills, and move up to higher levels, Kidd said.

The day was initially planned for the 100-plus students in the construction trades program, but instructors Andrew Marchese and Tom Bell opened it up to additional MHS career training programs. Students in construction, electro-mechanical (drones), automotive technology, and welding classes benefitted from the hands-on activities and guest speakers.

Some of the electro-mechanical students also used drones to capture footage of the day’s activities.

“We work collaboratively with our CTE colleagues to provide rich learning opportunities to MHS students,” Marchese stated. “It is beneficial to expose students to other fields, and some of the organizations represented here have information about multiple career areas, such as hydraulics that apply to our automotive students.”

The planned activities encompassed state standards, work-based learning components, and post-secondary career opportunities, Marchese said.

“Our students enjoyed working with the equipment, gained some hands-on experience, and expanded their career knowledge,” he said. “It was a very successful day, and we hope to make it an annual event.”

A mini excavator was on hand during Heavy Equipment Days at Monroe High School. (Provided by Monroe Public Schools)

Original Article from The Monroe News by Wendy Krouse, Community Engagement Coordinator. Nov. 6, 2021:

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