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STEM/Construction
        Teaching Today Minnesota | Winter 2024                                                                                                 Page 7

                        A BIG Sandbox!

                        Partnership at Wright Technical Center offers heavy equipment training to high school students

            Students are receiving hands-on instruc-  semesters  of  high  school  elective  credit  and   Wright  Tech  “has
        tion  in  heavy  equipment  operation  —  while   cover topics from equipment fundamentals to   been  a  stepping  stone
        earning  both  high  school  and  apprenticeship   grade and construction math.   for  many  people  in
        credit  —  through  a  new  program  at  Wright   Program  participants  can  build  a  strong   the  area,”  said  Brian
        Technical Center in Buffalo, Minnesota.  future  for  themselves  by  participating  in  the   Lenneman,   who
            A grand opening, held Thursday, Sept. 14,   Wright Tech program, completing an appren-  attended  Wright  Tech
        showcased the Operating Engineer’s Pathway,   ticeship, and then becoming employed by one   and  is  now  director  of
        celebrating the launch of the heavy equipment   of  the  700  employers  of  The  International   earthwork   operations
        operations and maintenance program and the   Union of Operating Engineers Local 49.  at one of the program’s
        “sandbox”  where  students  can  safely  hone   “We  recognize  virtual  learning  is  not   industry   partners.
        their operating skills. Industry and educational   for everyone, so this is piloting an in-person   Lenneman  hopes  this
        partners donated more than $350,000 in equip-  opportunity  for  students,”  said  Jenny  Win-  program   will   help
        ment, materials and labor for the sandbox and   kelaar,  Local  49’s  director  of  workforce  and   students  discover  an
        classroom.                          community  development.  “We  couldn’t  be   interest in the construc-
            For the program, Wright Technical Center   more  excited  about  our  partnership  with   tion industry.
        received permission from the city of Buffalo   Wright Tech. The impact on students could be   The  Wright  Tech   Thank you to Ziegler Cat for sponsorship of the equipment!
        to develop a sandbox up to one acre in size.   truly life changing.”    program is an extension
        The  sandbox  they  created  is  slightly  over  a   Monticello High School co-principal Lori   of the Operating Engineers Pathway, launched   Wright  and  Sherburne  counties.  The  eight
        half-acre  in  size,  so  there  is  room  for  future   Hanson  said  the  heavy  equipment  operators   in  2020  by  Local  49  and  Minnesota  Virtual   local  districts  include: Annandale,  Big  Lake,
        expansion.                          program  aligns  with  the  high  school’s  career   Academy. The Pathway is still available online   Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose,  Delano,  Howard
            Wright  Technical  Center  partners  with   pathways program.       to Minnesota public high school students at no   Lake-Waverly-Winsted,  Maple  Lake,  Monti-
        Minnesota  Virtual  Academy  to  provide  the   “This  allows  our  students  to  learn  and   charge and features multiple hands-on events   cello,  and  St.  Michael-Albertville. The WTC
        curriculum, which is a hybrid model. Some of   explore beyond our four walls, which is a goal   each  year.  The  Wright  Tech  program  could   provides  students  with  fourteen  different
        the curriculum is taught in the classroom with   we have,” Hanson said.  serve as a model for future in-person programs   career and technical program choices to meet
        simulators that use the same controls that are   Wright Tech is an important partner of the   with regional partners.  their needs, skills and career interests.
        in the heavy equipment vehicles, while other   high school because programs like the heavy   The Wright Technical  Center  is  a  coop-
        parts  of  the  curriculum  give  students  on-site   equipment operator program allow students to   erative  public  high  school  established  in
        experience.                         see what their futures might be through oppor-  1972  to  provide  instruction  in  career,  tech-  wtc.k12.mn.us
            There’s  already  a  waitlist  for  the  heavy   tunities the high school might not offer.  nical  and  alternative  education.  The  WTC
        equipment  program.  The  courses  offer  four   “It’s invaluable,” Hanson said.  services eight, member school districts in both























             SET YOUR SIGHTS ON A



             REWARDING CAREER





             The Ziegler Diesel Technician Apprenticeship Program offers PAID on-the-job training through
             hands-on and classroom training led by Ziegler technical instructors over the course of the
             12-month program. Tools and toolbox provided. No secondary education expenses.

             www.zieglercat.com/careers

                                                                                                                        EOE DISABILITY/VETS
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