The Louisiana Board of Regents awarded Fletcher Technical Community College an over $144,000 grant — which will go to implementing new simulators and other equipment into the college’s Marine Diesel program.
“The simulator for the Marine Diesel Engine program is brand new to us. What Fletcher has historically done is primarily just had the actual pieces of equipment, like the engines,” said Fletcher Chancellor Dr. Kristine Strickland. “But with the advancements in technology that we’re seeing, there are more and more of these types of products coming out that are for education and training environments. So this will be the first simulator that we have purchased for this particular program.”
The simulators will educate not only Fletcher technician-hopefuls in the program but also local high school students through the college’s dual enrollment partnership with the Lafourche Parish School District.
The marine diesel simulators — which will be housed at the Lafourche Parish Career Magnet Center in Lockport — will help improve the students’ critical thinking, responsiveness and ability to perform under pressure because the instructors will be able to program different scenarios, Dr. Strickland explained.
“When you’re just working on a singular piece of equipment, oftentimes, that piece of equipment operates however it’s going to operate. And what we’re finding out is under certain pressures, under certain environments and under certain scenarios, sometimes machinery doesn’t operate like it’s supposed to,” Dr. Strickland shared. “So what the simulator allows us to do is to demonstrate or put in front of students different scenarios where, for instance, a piece of machinery or equipment might malfunction.”
Dr. Strickland said that the students will be able to take what they learned, be able to know how to diagnose what went wrong and then know how to fix and repair it.
Because they are dealing with malfunctioning equipment, Dr. Strickland noted that the simulators will make for a much safer alternative as opposed to dealing with actual faulty equipment.
The Marine Diesel program prepares the future technicians to fix and repair heavy diesel engines in various fields such as the marine, farming and trucking industries, among others.
Twenty-four high school students from the Lafourche Parish School District have already signed up for the program this fall.
“Fletcher Technical Community College is grateful to the Board of Regents for funding this grant opportunity,” said Dr. Strickland in a Fletcher press release. “With these funds, Fletcher will be able to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to train the next generation of technicians. In addition, the partnership with Lafourche Parish School System in offering this program will provide an opportunity for our local high school students to learn and train on the best equipment possible.”
Besides the funds received from the Louisiana Board of Regents, Fletcher has received other grants that will allow their students to work with other modern technology used in the workforce.
The college will soon purchase their first round of unmanned aircraft, or drones. This will allow them to expand their program that prepares students to acquire an FAA Part 107 certificate — which is needed to fly most unmanned aircraft for commercial or hobby use.
“Along the lines of this similar grant, we are putting together a precision agriculture program in conjunction with Nicholls State University. That program will use both drones and heavy diesel engine equipment repair,” Dr. Strickland explained. “So a lot of the things that we’re doing are becoming more and more interconnected as folks find ways to use this technology in all areas of business and industry.”
“Fletcher Technical Community College is grateful to the Board of Regents for funding this grant opportunity. With these funds, Fletcher will be able to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to train the next generation of technicians. In addition, the partnership with Lafourche Parish School System in offering this program will provide an opportunity for our local high school students to learn and train on the best equipment possible.”
-Fletcher Chancellor Dr. Kristine Strickland•