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New Simulator will Add Valuable Training to CDL, Emergency Services Programs at Clark State

New Simulator will Add Valuable Training to CDL, Emergency Services Programs at Clark State

December 27, 2022

Clark State College, with funding from the Federal Perkins V Grant, has secured the addition of a simulator to be used by students enrolled at the Commercial Transportation Training and Testing Center (CTTTC).

The Clark State CTTTC program offers CDL Class A and Class B programs, as well as a Tractor-Trailer Refresher program. The Center also serves as an official state testing site for those who have met the requirements for the CDL exam.

“The simulator will help remediate students who are struggling to perform backing maneuvers and learning to double clutch and shift a manual transmission,” said Duane Hodge, director of the Clark State Commercial Transportation Training and Testing Center. “The simulator replicates the actual cockpit of any tractor trailer. We can select our current vehicle configurations and students can practice. This saves us considerable instructor training hours, equipment damage, fuel and testing costs.”

Clark State purchased one TranSim 7-Series Driver Training Simulator, with related software and hardware, from L3Harris Driver Training Solutions, a commercial division of L3Harris Technologies, Inc. The simulator provides training on manual transmission for multiple types of trucks including basic operations scenarios such as backing, turns, intersections, space management and shifting in rural, freeway and suburban environments. Other features include post-incident safety training, safety refresher skills training, effectively assessing driver skills, prescreening new drivers, and advanced skills and career development for experienced drivers. Each student is given the best opportunity to learn all that is required to safely operate a vehicle regardless of skill level or experience.

Hodge said the simulator will also be used to train Clark State Fire, EMS, and Police Academy cadets.

“They can create real world scenarios like driving a fire truck or police car through busy city traffic and high-speed chase situations,” he said. “The possibilities are endless for its use and the training benefits of simulating these situations that are impossible to replicate in real time.” 

Dale Briggs, president of Imperial Express, Inc. in Springfield, is a long-term supporter of Clark State and especially the CTTTC program. 

“My company recruits a majority of our new drivers through this program,” he said. “We attend the Training Center on a monthly basis and discuss transportation careers with each class and specifically what our company and other companies in our community have to offer them as Class-A CDL Drivers.”

Briggs also served on the CTTTC Transportation Advisory Committee to research the simulator technology and assist in its acquisition. 

“This technological addition to the CTTTC program will provide training, functional, educational and cost savings benefits,” he said. “It can help bridge the gap between career seekers and obtaining a CDL by providing the ability to try out truck driving from the safety of the simulator.”

Briggs said the simulator can help reduce fear and anxiety a driver may have before they ever sit in an actual truck and save fuel and wear on the CTTTC vehicles by providing significant shifting and maneuvering training in the simulator first. 

“A simulator’s purpose is not meant to teach you to drive, it’s primary objective is to teach the driver-in-training on how to make better choices when they are behind the wheel of an actual truck,” said Briggs. “The simulator offers thousands of various situations which can be programmed which will allow trainees to experience real-world situations in the safe environment of the simulator.”

Briggs said the simulator will be a crucial tool in the community for career fairs and other event opportunities alike in which career seekers will have access to what truck driving would feel like as they are deciding what career path they are pursuing.

“I see the simulator as a pathway for broadening/increasing and expanding interest and participation in the CTTTC program,” he said.

Clark State’s CTTTC offers several truck driver programs of varying duration and intensity, for both corporate employees and newcomers to the industry. Programs conclude with the participants obtaining Class A or Class B CDL licensing and job placement assistance if needed.

“This fiscal year, Clark State was awarded over a quarter of a million dollars, to sow back into the Career Technical Education programs that the college holds through professional development for our educators, advanced training measures for our students, as well as the procurement of the latest supplies and equipment to be trained on,” said Tanisha Burns-Martin, tech prep coordinator and Perkins Grant administrator at Clark State.

Burns-Martin said because Clark State has a culture of belonging, the ways in which the award is used encompasses the goals and objectives of the Perkins V grant in every area that Career Technical Education is.

“The Perkins V grant funding has worked to develop and improve programs that reiterate why everyone who desires to, has a place here at Clark State,” she said.

The TranSim 7-Series Driver Training Simulator is expected to be installed at Clark State in January.

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Crystal Jones Vice President of Marketing, Diversity and Community Impact