The recent edition of Tracks, published by the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers, included a story about classroom trailers. An excerpt from that article, which highlights two recent Featherlite mobile classroom projects, is included below, courtesy of Tracks.
NATM Member Trailers Used as Mobile Classrooms
By Meghan Ryan, Tracks Editor
NATM member specialty trailers recently made their debut in Topeka, Kan., as mobile classrooms for Kansas’ TRAC-7 higher educational program. TRAC-7, which stands for “Technical Retraining to Achieve Credentials,” program is a consortium of seven Kansas community colleges and technical schools that are working to train students across the state in high-demand signature programs. The TRAC-7 program received a $19.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in order to provide workers with the academic and industry-recognized credentials and training necessary to meet the need for a skilled workforce.
To accomplish this, TRAC-7 is using specialized mobile units for hands-on training to travel across the state to visit the schools in addition to the online hybrid courses. The seven programs taught at the seven various community colleges include Advanced Systems Technology, Agri-Biotechnology, Electrical Power Technician, Environmental Technology, Food Science, Power Plant Technology and Risk Management. Four of the five TRAC-7 mobile classroom trailer units used are NATM member trailer manufacturers, including two Featherlite trailers.
Garden City Community College’s specialized mobile unit will offer hands-on experience to assist with training in their Food Science Program that will prepare students in all aspects of food safety including proper methods of handling, preparing and storing foods to prevent foodborne illness. This training program will help assist with meeting “the need for credentialed personnel in the field of meat and food safety inspection,” said to Dr. Lorena Cook, Garden City Community College dean of technical education.
Washburn Tech’s trailer will be used to travel to the six other Kansas community and technical colleges to provide students with hands-on, job-centered training. Well known for their horse trailers, Featherlite’s specialty mobile classroom trailer will be helpful for Washburn Institute of Technology’s TRAC-7 program, Advanced Systems Technology. Washburn Tech’s program includes instruction on electrical theory, wiring, motor controls, 3-Phase/Single Phase AC/DC motors, blueprint reading and programmable logic to prepare students for work in the industrial maintenance field.
To meet the needs of students learning about Advanced Systems Technology, the Featherlite trailer will be easy to customize for the different schools that it will be traveling to next year. Advanced Systems Technology instructor David Peralta of Washburn Tech said, “Technology is the future…Industries are looking for highly skilled professionals for positions that are difficult to fill. With the retiring workforce, I think these [mobile training facilities] will have a huge impact in filling those positions and manufacturers and companies can hire directly from this program,” said Peralta.
In regards to the Featherlite trailer itself, “I feel comfortable with our equipment in transition from school to school. We have very sensitive equipment, but I feel that it is very secure and safe from damage and vibration,” said Peralta. While the training equipment on board can be easily switched out to customize the needs of each particular training session, multiple training models were on board to stimulate a traveling classroom, including the Motor Control System, which replicates the push buttons, disconnects and various wiring that can be found at manufacturing plants for students to practice on.
The Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) onboard simulates the “brains to run a manufacturing plant,” said Peralta. This module has lots of functionality as the system can be found at nuclear facilities, traffic lights and hospital HVAC systems amongst others. One of the most interesting training equipment pieces onboard Washburn Tech’s traveling trailer classroom was the welding simulator. The welding simulator allows for students to get hands-on practice welding and gives feedback before ever stepping into a real shop. Training technology such as the welding simulator may be few and far between in Kansas but with the help of the trailer, this learning can now take place anywhere. “With the number of students that it will help, these trailers are very convenient,” said Peralta.
The best way to learn vocational skills is through hands on, engaged training and with the mobile and online TRAC-7 program, communities across the state will soon have access to seven specialized and sought-after career training programs. The lack of limitations on the location of the training facilities makes the TRAC-7 program truly “Tomorrow’s model of technical education and training” as their motto states.