Apprentices Help Build Their Own Training Facility – And Used the Latest Tech to Do It
In 2019, the Southern Nevada Operating Engineers was faced with a problem.
The Las Vegas community had exploded in size around the training facility it moved into in the mid-90s. The once prime location was no longer an ideal spot for heavy equipment training and operation.
It was time to move and rebuild for the future – and who better to do the rebuilding than the students and instructors themselves?
“Some of the apprentices we worked with onsite had never been in equipment before this project,” says Larry Hopkins, SNOE director of training. “They went from zero experience applicants to having the privilege of working alongside several instructors, coordinators and seasoned tradespeople to make this facility come to life.”
The new 28,000-square-foot center sits on nearly 100 acres and features state-of-the-art training rooms, classrooms, a machine shop, welding stations, and grounds to move dirt and simulate projects.
“It was a very proud moment to see it start from bare dirt and rock to what we have now,” says Chris Trolson, SNOE assistant director of training. “It’s fulfilling to see our students go out there and take ownership of this. You could feel the pride because they can see what they accomplished.”
Students assisted with everything from grading the site to paving the parking lot, and they used the latest technology to do it. Under the guidance of operating engineers and instructors, SNOE students used full 3D Trimble Earthworks automatics on an excavator, two dozers and on a mastless grader, as well as Trimble Siteworks on rovers and WorkManager to facilitate the data remotely.
And for many of the students, the technology was second nature. “Our students just out of high school or their early 20s are much less afraid of the technology than those of us who have been around for 35 or 40 years,” says Hopkins. “They have an advantage growing into this technology. They’re excited about it.”