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Where Industry Meets The Classroom & Community

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Keyano College is Wood Buffalo’s only post-secondary institution and their close proximity to the oil sands allows for partnerships with industry to train skilled students for the workforce. By working with companies on program development and work terms, industry receives students with the skills they need and students are able to get the hands-on experience that enhances their employment opportunities upon graduation.

Having a skillset that transfers across a wide range of industries and locations is key to finding employment in today’s economy. With that in mind, Keyano College, in partnership with Western Economic Diversification Canada and Syncrude, has launched the new Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) Simulator Training Program.

Simulator training is nothing new for many industries – flight simulators have been used in training since the 1920’s, and the College’s own Haul Truck program uses state-of-the-art simulators for training. However, using simulators for other types of heavy equipment training is new to Northern Alberta and promises to provide industry with employees who are safe and efficient operators.

The mobile simulators will enable students from outlying communities to get the skills they need to enter the HEO workforce without having to travel to Fort McMurray for training. The HEO training was offered in Gregoire Lake for the first cohort in mid-September and is scheduled to travel to Fort McKay, Fort Chipewyan, Janvier/Conklin and in the Fort McMurray area.

“We think that the use of mobile simulators offer a unique and exciting approach to training,” said Peter Lawlor, Dean of the School of Trades and Heavy Industrial at Keyano College. “Through these simulators we have the capacity to bring multiple training options to our students, so they can study where they live. We also recognize that this is an important skill for our industry partners and the College is proud to provide the training.”

Each cohort will see 12 students spend six-weeks learning how to safely operate six different pieces of heavy equipment in a variety of settings and conditions. The equipment line-up includes: a wheeled loader, dozer, grader, excavator, articulating truck, and off-highway truck.

Simulators allow students to safely train in a controlled environment and receive objective feedback on their performance. Measurements include fuel consumption, machine and jobsite safety, emergency incident responses, and more.

Students must be at least 18 years of age, be physically fit and have a full range of body motions. Successful completion of Grade 10 or student will be required to complete a college entrance test to demonstrate. A High School Diploma is recommended due to regional industry employment requirements. All applicants to Keyano College must demonstrate English Language proficiency prior to admission. Students who have been educated outside of Canada may be required to demonstrate English proficiency.

The community was able to get a glimpse of the HEO simulators at the The 2015 Oil Sands Trade Show (OSTS). With the support of OSTS, a Keyano College Foundation Partner and Friend, the College was able to bring the mobile simulators on-location so the public could experience these amazing training machines.

“The Oil Sands Trade Show has been an amazing partner of the Keyano College Foundation,” explained Eric Leatham, Fundraising & Events Officer at the Keyano College Foundation. “Industry shows its support to the College in many different ways. During the tradeshow we were able to highlight that support and share new programming with the community.

The new HEO Simulator Training Program is just one example of how industry is involved with the College; often Keyano’s relationship with industry extends further than the classroom and training programs. The relationship between the College and industry can be found in the awards that enhance student’s ability to get an education, the sport and wellness facility that athletes and the public enjoy, and the Keyano College Theatre providing quality performances from around the world on a Wood Buffalo stage. The College truly is where industry meets the classroom and community. 

Photos: Keyano Student, Nick Power testing out the HEO Simulators. Photos by Keyano College Staff Photographer Sean McLennan.