To some, heavy equipment or a driving simulator might appear to be just another everyday training tool. However, these machines impact students and center life by saving energy and money, while keeping students' safety a priority.
For example, students from the Alaska Job Corps Center were able to learn to operate heavy machinery despite Alaska's challenging weather conditions. Simulators allow students to practice their skills in a variety of environments and weather conditions before they train on the real equipment on center.
“There are multiple reasons for having a simulator,” said Tony Calkins, Director of Driver Education at the Gary Job Corps Center. “The equipment is energy-efficient, and you're not burning gas or wearing out tires the way you would on a real vehicle. If you have students who are hesitant about driving, you can put them on a simulator and get their confidence up. It makes for a better driving experience when they get out onto the real roads.”
Training simulators and electric vehicles were the most popular pieces of equipment purchased, with 73 centers purchasing simulators and 97 purchasing electric vehicles. The simulators are used for training purposes and as instructional tools to educate students about the importance of saving energy. The electric vehicles are used for a variety of daily center support tasks, including security patrols and equipment transfer.
ARRA-funded equipment is also helping centers reduce their carbon footprint by allowing them to replace traditional gas vehicles with two different types of energy-efficient electric vehicles. Centers also no longer need to lease GSA vehicles because they are using their newly purchased hybrid vehicles for training purposes and driver education.
Low-speed utility vehicles resembling golf carts are used for general purposes on center, including security patrols, while larger electric-powered buses and trucks are used for longer trips and for transporting materials and supplies across campuses.
Centers that purchased electric vehicles are experiencing fuel cost savings at such a high rate that Job Corps is expected to save $3 million to $5 million over the first 3 years following full implementation.