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EVELETH - In the latest edition of College Connection, FOX 21’s Dan Hanger takes you to the Mesabi Range Technical College in Eveleth, where students are getting a virtual education for next-generation industrial and mechanical technicians.
Students are no longer first learning on the real thing, they’re instead getting high-tech training on virtual simulators like a welding machine.
Benjamin, Meyer, 26, says he feels like the learning experience is a video game while the virtual machine literally grades him on his every move.
"This is a major step forward to pushing someone like me who has grown up with video games all their life -- to come here and get an education," Meyer explained.
The virtual classroom includes six different simulators, including an excavator, grader, front-end loader and a rope shovel, which by the way is the only rope-shovel simulator in any U.S. college.
"I let it go. It's still going because of the momentum. I have to counter act it to slow it down and that's just like how it would be when you're moving 60 tons worth of bucket,” explained Jake Kempa, a student, who showed how the rope-shovel simulator worked.
160 students are in it the program right now enjoying this new $5.4-million facility that isn't all virtual, of course. Students get to move on to the real thing eventually.
"This is as close as you're going to get until you step on mine property or industry,” said Lloyd Moeller, who’s about to graduate with no jitters.
"It really has given me all of the confidence I need to make it, and now it's time to put my effort out there to get this job,” Moeller said.
It's the latest and greatest technology that’s preparing a future on the Range, especially in the mines.