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26 students kick off 2023 with hands-on operating engineer class experience

LANSING, Mich. – 26 students are kicking off the New Year with a close-up look at the construction industry, the work Operating Engineers do every day, and the skills they’ll need to be a successful construction professional in one of Michigan’s most in-demand job sectors.

All week, starting Monday, Jan. 9, Operating Engineers 324 instructors have been introducing 26 students to topics ranging from the basics of construction to safety on worksites, including protecting themselves from falls. The seniors and juniors, who are construction trades students in Lansing’s Career and Technical Education program, also visited OE324’s 600-acre state-of-the-art training center in Howell where they were able to try their hand at operating cranes and excavators. On Wednesday, the students are learning about safety measures to prevent falls, which is the No. 1 safety concern for the 12th year in a row.

“We’re exposing all of our students to thirteen different skilled trades in our program,” explains Ryan Chorpenning, CTE/Skilled Trades Instructor for Lansing School District. “They are coming in to teach us what they do in their trade to get kids excited about their future, and help them find out what they want to concentrate in.”

Currently, the Lansing Hill Career and Technical Education Center program is 11th and 12th grade, but starting next year it will expand to include 9th and 10th grade as well.

“Half of these students will be looking to start their career as soon as this June,” explains Chorpenning. “Here, they can see what these real-life jobs are like. Earlier this year we took them to a job site at MSU, and it was the first time most of them had ever been on a job site and could see it firsthand. It was great, and so is this week to continue that.”

The fall safety session is part of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification process. Other sessions during the week include rigging, loading and other basic functions on a construction work site.

Fall protection specialist and 3M employee Steven Swider will lead a Wednesday course on preventing falls using the latest equipment, methods and technology.

“Falls are something we take very seriously at construction sites and we focus on safety precautions so no one gets hurt,” said Swider, who leads safety trainings year-round. “During our demonstration, we’ll be showing students how to use new high-tech equipment to stay safe. We’ll show what happens when a 220-pound object falls from a great height, we’ll be emphasizing why safety training and equipment must always be at the forefront and we’ll put students in the shoes of construction workers who must ensure safety at every step.”

“Today’s students are going to be the men and women who will build our bridges, roads, schools and other infrastructure that will be essential to our economy, quality of life, health and safety, so Operating Engineers 324 is excited to show them what an exciting and rewarding career they can have as a construction professional,” said Operating Engineers 324 Career and Outreach Representative John Hartwell. “Skilled, well-trained construction workers are always in demand. They enjoy good wages, great benefits and a career that helps them build a secure life for themselves and their families. Operating engineers are thrilled to introduce students to a profession that sets them up for a strong future.”

The 3-hour classes start at 8 a.m.