August 7, 2017 / Training begins at Indiana’s only underground mining simulation center
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FORT BRANCH, Ind. - Indiana’s only underground mining simulation center is open and providing training to area miners. The $2 million facility, completed in late May, is located at Vincennes Uiversity’s Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics.
The mock mine has 11 entrances on three sides of the structure. VU approved construction of the mock mine last year after receiving funding for the project in the state budget. Krempp Construction, Inc., Jasper, built the almost 40,000 square-foot facility.
“In addition to coal this new center will be useful for other types of mining as well as for fire and rescue training and VU’s Homeland Security and Law Enforcement programs,” said VU President Chuck Johnson.
Modeled after a simulated underground mine training facility at West Virginia University, VU expects its new simulation center to attract miners from throughout Indiana as well as Illinois and Kentucky.
VU is Indiana's designated recipient of federal grant funding from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration to provide assistance in the training and retraining of Indiana’s miners. The VU program was initiated in October 2005 for miners in all segments of the mining industry, including coal, sand and gravel, cement, crushed stone, dimension limestone, gypsum, shale, and clay. VU's Mining program provides the required training for new underground miners and new surface miners, in addition to MSHA-required annual refresher training for all miners.
Including both on-site and off-site instruction, VU has provided 4,637 miners with training so far in 2017 - up from 3,017 miners trained in 2014 and 3,888 miners who completed the training in 2016.
“VU provides MSHA training to thousands of miners annually. This new facility will add to our capacity to do that training,” Johnson said.
Coal is located in 18 counties in southwestern Indiana, with rock mining located in most of Indiana’s 92 counties. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Indiana has 17 billion tons of recoverable coal.
Denzil Hughes, supervisor for Educational Field and Small Mine Services for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, says the new VU simulator is a model training facility that will attract training from a wide geographic area.
“The original facility is probably one of the best classroom settings we have in the Midwest. With the addition of the underground simulated mine, the training will be limitless,” Hughes said, citing plans to have future mine rescue contests at the Gibson County Center.
The mock mine is located behind VU’s Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics, a leading resource for workforce development. The 57,000 square-foot facility features modern and flexible training labs and classrooms that serve employers, employees, and students within southwestern Indiana’s industrial corridor. It is located on U.S. 41 near Fort Branch and just a few miles from Interstate highways 64 and 69.
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY - Indiana’s First College
VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper and additional sites such as Indianapolis, Lebanon, and Gibson County. A leader in developing Early Colleges statewide, VU also offers instruction at military sites throughout the nation.
In addition to offering a wide range of associate degree and certificate programs, VU also offers bachelor’s degree programs in technology, homeland security, nursing, secondary education programs in mathematics and science, and special education/elementary education.
VU enrolls students from throughout Indiana, 35 other states, and 17 countries. Tuition and fees are the lowest among Indiana campuses with residence halls. VU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Founded in 1801, VU is Indiana’s first college and is the only college in the nation founded by an individual who would later become President of the United States. William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. President, founded VU while serving as governor of the Indiana Territory. More information is available at www.vinu.edu.