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Union Using Video Games for Apprentices

Friday, October 19, 2018

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A Pittsburgh-based engineers' union is combating the construction labor shortage by utilizing one key tool to help its crane operator apprentices: video games.

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 recently partnered up with Simcoach Games (also based in Pittsburgh and an offshoot of Carnegie Mellon University) to develop free game apps that simulate operating heavy machinery.

The Games

“Dig In: An Excavator Game” and “Dig In: A Dozer Game” put players in the seats of heavy equipment and challenge them to complete different tasks and levels, ultimately aiming to build awareness and education on the way to career opportunities. These releases come a year after the pair released “Hooked! A Tower Crane Game.”

"We are promoting new gaming apps to help educate youth about working in construction," says Jim Kunz, Business Manager for Local 66.

"When kids download and play the games, we are hoping to pique their interest in learning more about available apprenticeship programs and careers available to them."

Players complete tasks (such as moving earth and breaking up concrete) while trying to work efficiently and avoid causing damage. As players progress through the game, they receive messages connecting them to real-life apprenticeships.

"Our game development process is what leads to engaging and effective games," says Jessica Trybus, Chief Games Officer and Founder of Simcoach Games.

"We aim to expose and inspire kids to possibilities. Our focus is on 'finding the fun'—to do this we prioritize involving youth in making the games."

All games are available for free through the iOS app store, Amazon Appstore and Google Play Store.


Tagged categories: Apps; Cranes; Education; Good Technical Practice; North America; Worker training

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