Kearney High School and Central Community College have teamed up with local businesses to prepare interested students for jobs in construction and other jobs that require use of heavy machinery.
Private donations have been used to purchase equipment for the new Heavy Equipment Operator class that is part of KHS's Industrial Technology program.
Simulators will be used to teach students how to operate loaders, motor graders and excavators.
School officials say the local construction industry is in need of skilled workers and students who complete the class will have the skills needed to land an entry-level construction job right out of high school.
KHS Principal Dr. Jay Dostal says it is the partnerships with local businesses and the local community college that make classes like this one possible.
"We are very fortunate to live in a community where businesses partner with the school to provide opportunities that will help our students be successful in the future," he said. "There is a shortage of heavy equipment operators and these simulators will provide our students an opportunity to learn skills in real world scenarios."
CCC officials have chosen curriculum that incorporates Caterpillar modules that come with the simulators.
Students will learn not only the skills required to operate heavy equipment, but related skills necessary on construction projects such as plan reading, surveying and safety requirements," shared CCC's Steve Hoyt.
The built-in training modules will be able to assess student performance and pass along that information to the instructor. In addition to being able to learn how to operate heavy machinery in a safe environment, the class will also give students a chance to learn more about the construction industry and related careers.
The class will be available to interested students beginning in January 2014.
Over $150,000 has been donated by Midlands Contracting, Blessing Construction, NMC, Inc., Nebraska's Caterpillar dealer and the Beryl Claar Memorial Fund.