New Heavy Equipment Course Scheduled at VGCC Warren Campus

Vance-Granville Community College is planning to offer a nine-week course to train Heavy Equipment Operators, beginning Monday, April 16, at the college’s Warren County Campus.

A Short-Term Workforce Training Grant from the N.C. Community College System will be available to cover the cost of tuition and books for qualified students, said Kyle Burwell, VGCC’s director of occupational extension.

“Students will have the opportunity to learn the techniques and safety aspects of operating heavy equipment while exploring the various types and functions of the equipment,” said Burwell.

“This is a new career opportunity that Vance-Granville began offering just a few years ago with training that previously had not been available in our service area,” Burwell added. “Students completing this course will have the general understanding to secure a job for a company preparing a site for the construction of buildings, roadways and other structures.”

The college has worked with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to help course completers find jobs with companies that contract with the State.

Classes will be held on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays, April 16 through June 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break.

Steve Buus will be teaching the course. Buus, who earned his diploma in Heavy Equipment Operation from Wake Technical Community College, has held various positions with Caterpillar and similar companies as an operator and manager of heavy equipment. He holds his 30-Hour OSHA Certification in Construction Training from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Heavy Equipment Operator training program, based at the college’s Warren County Campus, has three computerized training simulators, offering a safe and efficient way to train new operators in a risk-free environment. Highly detailed and realistic lessons teach proper operator technique, machine controls, and safe operation. The simulators feature real-world situations, jobsite hazards, safety violations, hand signals, equipment damage, budget-based scoring, and replica machine controls.

Each simulator allows students to virtually train on a different type of equipment: a motor grader, a four-wheel drive loader and a backhoe. Students use foot pedals, joysticks and steering wheels that mimic those found in actual heavy equipment, while large computer monitors in front of them display a virtual jobsite in the first-person style of a video game.

VGCC students use the equipment not only for practice and experience but also for testing that is required to pass the course.

To register for the course, students may visit

Students interested in applying for the grant should contact Kyle Burwell at (252) 738-3276

Image Information: Student Maurice Thorpe trains on a motor grader simulator in a classroom on the college’s Warren County Campus during a previous Heavy Equipment Operator course. (VGCC photo)