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UAS Secures Funds to Purchase Mine Simulator

The addition of the new equipment and training curriculum—and links to existing workforce training programs in construction, welding, and diesel technologies—will lead to more skilled graduates.

The University of Alaska Southeast will become the only educational institution in the United States with an underground hard rock mine training simulator thanks to support from the legislative office of Rep. Cathy Munoz (R-Juneau) and other members of the Southeast Alaska legislative delegation.   UAS will purchase a state-of-the-art mine training simulator with three modules for training on different pieces of mining equipment. The simulator and modules will provide a dramatic increase in training capacity to prepare individuals for entry level hard rock mining jobs in Alaska. The simulator will be housed at the UAS Center for Mine Training, located at Juneau’s UAS Technical Education Center.

The $800,000 simulator will be purchased with funding from a $400,000 2010 capital budget appropriation and $400,000 in University of Alaska Workforce Development funds.  Munoz made the announcement at the Alaska Mining Association conference Wed. March 16 in Juneau.

The University of Alaska’s Mining and Petroleum Training Services (MAPTS) is a key partner in the UAS Center, along with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The goal is to develop a world-class training center that meets the workforce training needs of the mine industry by providing high quality, accessible training for both new and experienced miners.  The Center will acquire a self-contained, computer driven simulator with the ability to train students in modules fully representing an articulated haul truck, load haul dump, and jumbo drill rig.

With the Kensington mine ramping up, along with other local mines, the timing of the new acquisition couldn’t be better. "This was the missing piece of the puzzle for training miners from Alaska to be productive and safe from the first day on the job," said MAPTS Director Dennis Steffy.  "It will vastly improve the opportunities of students for mining employment.  In addition,  salaries will stay in Alaska instead of going to other western states."  More than 700 students are currently enrolled in mining classes at UAS.

Dr. Steven Krause, Dean of Professional and Technical Studies at UAS and a former Air Force aviator has twenty years experience with sophisticated flight simulators. "Rarely will you see training centers with this kind of sophistication," he said.  "It can replicate the mine environment with visual displays and mapping of the underground terrain. Students riding in the seat will have full feel of the equipment."

Given the new and rising demands for entry level miners, UAS Chancellor John Pugh sees unparalleled opportunities to work closely with the community in ways unforeseen just a few years ago. "Partnering with the community is what made this happen," according to Pugh. "The addition of the new equipment and training curriculum—and links to existing workforce training programs in construction, welding, and diesel technologies—will lead to more skilled graduates who are prepared for productive employment here in Southeast Alaska."

Fred Villa, UA Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Workforce Development hopes the simulator will be in place and operational by the summer.

 
 

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