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Virtual Driving System Expands CDL Training

Virtual Driving System Expands CDL Training photo 12/19/2014 12:11:25 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

On the New Mexico Junior College campus sits an indistinct white, 22-foot trailer. But inside is one of the most sophisticated simulators made, to help train commercial drivers for all types of real-world scenarios.

Funded by a grant from the Department of Labor as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program, the simulator was designed to prepare CDL drivers for several types of driving conditions, including off-road driving in all kinds of weather, a critical function needed in Lea County. Students experience a seamless “virtual world” driving environment with animated weather, pedestrians, extreme road conditions and real-time vehicle responses.

“This simulator is state-of-the-art to give real-life CDL training that drivers will experience in late model tractor-trailers,” says Jeff McCool, dean of training and outreach.  “We can create the kind of situations a driver might experience in their daily job driving big rigs, including weather, bad roads or no roads, and shifting for fuel efficiency. Students literally feel they are steering and maneuvering a tractor-trailer.”

By placing the simulator in a trailer, NMJC can train students on and off campus. 

“Commercial driving classes are in high demand in Lea County,” McCool says. “This simulator increases our capacity to teach more students with hands-on training to fill the needs in Southeastern New Mexico.”

Jai Oyler, NMJC’s TAACCT director, says the simulator is also part of a larger plan to increase regional business and industry partnerships in recruiting and training a larger workforce for the area, a key focus of the grant.  “Our goal is to better serve industry by providing state-of-the-art training to increase current labor force skills,” says Oyler.

Oyler added that another goal for the group’s simulator training is to reach individuals who want to transition to a new profession or increase their earning potential.

Training and Outreach will offer CDL training courses integrating the simulator starting in February.

For more information contact:  Jai Oyler at 575-492-4721 or joyler@nmjc.edu

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