September 11, 2014 9:00AM
Lucas De Paula, an exchange student from Brazil, battled wind, fog and a variety of other weather conditions during his first experience at the controls of a large, industrial crane.
“It’s definitely difficult to manage with all those different variables,” he said. “It makes you worry about causing some serious damage.”
De Paula found solace in knowing that the only damage done could be to his grade, as his first crane experience came on a simulator recently purchased by the Pittsburg State School of Construction.
“Even though it’s a simulator, there were times I forgot I wasn’t actually out there in the field running a real crane,” De Paula said. “It’s a wonderful training tool that feels like the real thing.”
Assistant Professor Bill Strenth said the new crane simulator is used to provide students the proper training needed to run such a machine before they enter the workforce.
“That first time you’re out in the field and you’re the one behind the controls can be very stressful,” Strenth said. “Having a simulator like this is a major asset because the students truly learn how to operate a crane without the pressure and stress of an actual worksite. So, when they graduate, they can go to the field and already understand the ins and outs of a crane.”
Using a digital screen and construction-related software, students work through a variety of scenarios that they may someday encounter in the field.
“With this machine and the program, we can dictate everything from the type of worksite to the weather,” Strenth said. “The students find out just how different running a crane can be when there’s a little wind or rain. While it’s not exactly the real thing, it’s incredibly close and a valuable educational experience for the students.”
The new crane simulator is located in the simulation lab, which also features a variety of other construction-related equipment simulators.
“Adding the crane simulator to the lab is just one more way we’re providing a hands-on, real-world experience for the students,” Strenth said. “We’re preparing them for that first day on the job and giving them a leg up on those who may not have had this experience at their universities.”