Yirara College in Alice Springs has installed a truck simulator in the classroom in the hope that students would gain experience and help them land their first job upon graduation.The College’s Director of teaching and learning, Gregory Miller, said the machine has been a hit. “It’s a very big truck that they’re driving, they can see everything, they get loaded by an excavator and then they go and they dump it,” he said. “It can crash, but they don’t hurt themselves.”
Mr Miller said it is the same simulator they use on mine sites to train drivers before they get behind the wheel of the real thing. “It overheats if they do the wrong things. When they bump into a wall you can feel it move. It’s very good training,” he said. “They’ll take you on this first, so if you’re scrubbing tyres you’re not causing $60,000 of wrecked tyres. “It’s that initial thing to get you familiar with the controls. It’s quite authentic.”
Only the beginning Yirara College Principal, Roger Ashcroft said the simulator is just the beginning of the training plan they hope to roll out. “This all started when a student asked if he could become a truck driver,” he said. “We want to offer a different vocational direction, we’ve still got The Northern Territory Certificate of Education and Training (NTCET) but we want them also to have the chance to actually go into trades, driving trucks and machinery. “We hope this will get even bigger where we’ll have different types of training, like bobcat training, loader training and excavator training.”
Mr Ashcroft said the College has had preliminary meetings with another training company about expanding. “We also hope to get some actual machinery ourselves and set up an area where the students can learn how to drive the actual machines,” he said. He said he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps in mining, but conceded it is not all fun and games after having a few crashes on the machine. “It felt realistic. Going around the corners you have to leave it and go straight until you get near the corner. If you turn too early you could crash,” he said.