More than thirty Garrett High School students got their hands dirty last week while learning to operate heavy machinery and earned a valuable certificate as part of a dual-enrollment program with Ivy Tech Fort Wayne. Along with classroom training, the students learned to operate a skid steer machine, which was provided by McCallister CAT and Ridge Inman.
“This training is very rare for high school students—it’s a Caterpillar’s Level 1 certification, which has only been offered in one other high school in Indiana and is part of the Heavy Highway program at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne,” says Zachary Caenepeel, Ivy Tech dual-credit instructor. “The Heavy Highway Program is a State Earn and Learn (SEAL) program, which is also rare for a high school to offer. There are only two high schools in the country providing this program, and they are both in Indiana and both partnered with Ivy Tech. The certification will be valuable for these students as they enter the job market.”
If you’re looking at a construction site, you’ll probably see a skid steer being operated by skilled operator. Now 30+ students are trained to operate the heavy machinery before they’ve even graduated high school. It gives them a powerful leg up on a career in construction.
“The Level 1 Skid Steer Certification provided to the students by MacAllister CAT is invaluable,” said Adam Day, General Manager of Fox Contractors Corporation. “It helps to teach the students the importance of machine safety and maintenance as well as teaching them how to run their first piece of equipment. Not only that, it gets them excited about the industry and helps to give the next generation of professional machine operators a head start on becoming employable. This will be a great benefit to Fox Contractors and all other construction companies that end up hiring these students.”
The training was intense—at least three days of classroom training before four days of machine operation. But getting that hands-on experience that Ivy Tech is known for was both vital to certification and also fun!
“I want to be an operator,” says senior Garrett High School Student William Goodwin. “It’s so much fun that I was smiling while working. It’s amazing.”
“These students are building a skill. They’re learning how to participate in the industry. By doing that, it creates economic freedom for them, their families, our community. It’s that trickle down effect that’s just amazing,” said Chad Sutton, director of Career Development.