Simulated Mine Training Facility Coming to SIC this Fall
Southeastern Illinois College in cooperation with Illinois Eastern Community Colleges (IECC), officially broke ground on its new 12,160-square-foot simulated mine training facility at a ceremony on July 22.
The facility will be funded through a $220,000 Coal Competitiveness Grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development (DCEO), along with an additional $15,000 from each of the colleges.
“This new building will be a state-of-the-art facility set up to meet the needs of area mines for underground safety training. It will be set up like a continuous miner section with giant columns, simulated smoke and a ventilation system that simulates the tunnels of the coal mines,” said Mike Thomas, Dean of Workforce Education at IECC.
According to Thomas, this construction is the first of two phases for the facility. The second phase, once funded, will add a control room with monitors and infrared and thermal imaging cameras to monitor what goes on inside the facility during the training operations.
Ellen McCurdy, senior policy advisor for the IDCEO, praised the colleges for their efforts and stated, “We are really proud to be partners with these institutions and with the Illinois coal industry. Together, we are important links in the safety and training chain that has made coal mining in Illinois a healthier, safer and more professional occupation.”
Sen. Gary Forby agreed that mine safety through education is a top priority for our state, and Rep. Brandon Phelps echoed the need for continued safety training for coal miners.
“This is something that is vitally needed to this area. The Illinois basin is truly growing and there is a huge need for this especially here in coal country,” Phelps said.
More than 1,000 miners go through mine training programs at SIC each year, between 300 and 500 of them being new to coal mining.
“The most important thing to come out of a coal mine is a miner,” said SIC President, Dr. Jonah Rice. “That’s all we are trying to do is to make sure they all go in and they all come out.
Karen Weiss, SIC Dean of Career and Technical Education noted that the new facility will put Southeastern Illinois College in standing to be an eligible location for the national mine safety and rescue competition in upcoming years.
“We are pleased that we will have a simulation facility with the latest technology to present safe scenarios for mine rescue operations to coal mines. We look forward to using the facility as part of our yearly Mine Rescue and Skills competition that brings in competitors from all over the region and as far away as West Virginia,” said Weiss.
The new building will be housed on the north side of campus adjacent to the burn tunnel and the fire science outdoor classroom, also used for coal mine training. Anticipated completion of the project is late fall of this year.
For information on coal mining technology classes, visit www.sic.edu/coal or call Shannon Sneed at 618-252-5400 x2360.