UAS to be first school in nation for new mining simulator

Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011

The University of Alaska Southeast secured funds which will allow it to become the first school in the United States to operate a state-of-the-art mining simulator, Rep. Cathy Mu┐oz announced Wednesday at a mining trade show in Juneau.

The simulator contains three modules which will allow students to train with different equipment in order to better prepare them for entry-level positions in mines, according to a release from UAS.

“This was the missing piece of the puzzle for training miners from Alaska to be productive and safe from the first day on the job,” said Dennis Steffy, director of the University of Alaska’s Mining and Petroleum Training Services, in the release. “It will vastly improve the opportunities of students for mining employment. In addition, salaries will stay in Alaska instead of going to other western states.”

The simulator will come to the Technical Education Center on UAS’ Juneau campus at a cost of $800,000, according to UAS. Half of that money comes from the University of Alaska’s Workforce Development program to match a $400,000 capital budget appropriation made by UAS in 2010. Mu┐oz was instrumental in helping UAS land the simulator, as were other members of Southeast Alaska’s legislative delegation, the release from the university states.

“Putting Alaskans to work in Alaska mines is a top priority,” Mu┐oz stated in a separate release. “Along with the Juneau Delegation I will continue to advocate in the Legislature for expansion of this important program.

More than 700 students at UAS are enrolled in mining classes, and the Kensington Mine employs 60 UAS-trained miners, according to information available in the releases.

The simulator is expected to be in place and operational by the summer, according to the release from UAS.

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