When a new highway operation technician is hired by ADOT, they’ve got one year to complete some basic training …
Part of that includes learning how to use four pieces of heavy equipment, including:
Loaders (a heavy-duty piece of machinery that can move a lot of dirt)
Graders (a vehicle that uses a large “blade” to create flat surfaces)
Skid Steers (like a smaller, speedier version of a loader)
Dump truck (used to haul large amounts of material)
In the past, training has happened in a maintenance yard. Trainees would learn by moving piles of dirt from one side of the lot to another.
The newly hired techs were definitely learning how to use the equipment, but the situation was far removed from the “real-world” conditions they’d actually experience on the job.
So, when the opportunity came about to train the new techs at a Boy Scout camp in Northern Arizona (with real roads in need of repair), it seemed like a perfect partnership!
“Our roads were so bad, people were damaging their vehicles going up and down the roads to get to the camp sites,” says Camp Geronimo Ranger Ted Julius in the video above.
Twenty new techs attended training at Camp Geronimo for the first time last month. Not only did they learn how to use the equipment, but they also were able to improve the camp’s roads by hauling dirt, grading roads, cutting ditches and putting in culverts for drainage.
ADOT Phoenix Maintenance District Engineer Tim Wolfe estimates that ADOT saved $10,000-20,000 in training expenses.
But, the benefit wasn’t just financial …
“Because of this training, our new hires are much more confident and better trained,” said Wolfe, adding this training academy worked so well, another is tentatively planned for next spring.
Wolfe says the main focus of the training is on safety. Learning in a controlled environment means the techs will be more familiar with the equipment before working on the side of the state’s highways.
“These guys are coming away more comfortable with the equipment and that means they’ll produce better roads,” he said. “This is a benefit to ADOT, a benefit to the scouts, and a benefit to the tax payers of Arizona.”