Roseville High School senior Tori Widen tests out the school’s new hydraulic excavator simulator. It gives students unique job experience without needing to leave the classroom.

Roseville High School senior Tori Widen tests out the school’s new hydraulic excavator simulator. It gives students unique job experience without needing to leave the classroom.

Photo provided by Joe Genest

Roseville High gives students unique experience through virtual reality

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 10, 2020


ROSEVILLE — Roseville High School has purchased some new equipment that will help students in its technical education program receive training in ways that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

Two new virtual reality simulators allow students to get hands-on training in the construction and medical fields that would otherwise be expensive, impractical and perhaps even impossible.

“It’s a simulator the same way you would have a flying simulator. They can see what it is like to dig out a basement when building a house,” said trades teacher Dave Diebolt. “It’s exciting getting to see the kids use the actual equipment and get this hands-on experience. If people want to go into this trade, they have a head start for this career.”

The equipment allows students to learn how to use heavy construction equipment and get used to facets of several medical professions.

“The equipment we can train them on is an excavator, which is used in construction,” Diebolt said. “With this simulator, we can train them on heavy equipment, which I can’t demonstrate using actual equipment.”

“The other piece of equipment is medical,” added Roseville High School Principal Patrick Adams. “You put 3D glasses on and virtually lift a beating heart and turn it around and look at it and see it from the inside and outside, and you can do that with any organ of the body.”

Adams said this kind of hands-on experience can be a huge boon for graduates as they enter the job market.

“It provides students real work opportunities,” he remarked. “One of the focuses we have in our current technical education program in the last few years is to provide relevant experience for kids and provide them with skills they can take directly into the real world. Similar to the welding class we started, this gives them experience in actual equipment without having an entire construction crane in the school parking lot.”

The hardware was purchased using an academic grant. Roseville High School reportedly is the first school in Macomb County to have this equipment. The staff brought the equipment online Oct. 19 and the students have already gotten to try it out.

Diebolt said that allowing kids to get this kind of training on heavy equipment is particularly useful because it allows them to be certified without needing to put untrained teenagers behind the controls of dangerous construction vehicles.

“We build 1,600-, 1,900- square-foot homes from the ground up, and contractors come and do it, and students come and observe that, but this lets them have actual hands-on experience,” he said. “It’s an actual simulator and they get assignments to excavate or whatever else, and if they make a mistake, they can look at it and study that. They even get a certification on this equipment.”

The medical equipment also allows for unique exposure for students.

“Bob Smitka, our science department chair, said it can be used for physiology, biology and other classes using that equipment. Any student going into a health field can use this for meaningful experience,” Adams said. “They can hold a human heart in their hand and see how it beats and look at it from all angles. You can’t even do that with a real human heart.”

Both said that providing kids with resources like this can help fill openings in the job market.

“We are lacking people in skilled trades,” Diebolt said. “There is a market for people with those skills, and college is not for everyone, so some kids can make a great living with benefits and insurance by getting into trades like this one.”

“We value opportunity for kids in post-secondary education,” added Adams. “We want to provide skills so they can move directly into the workforce.”