McIntosh First in State with Operator Program

The McIntosh School District accomplished a first this year…for the entire state.

In January, the district learned it had been awarded a Workforce Education Grant to purchase three Heavy Equipment Simulators, which will be used for South Dakota’s first Heavy Equipment Operator curriculum.

The newly developed curriculum and concurrent credit courses will integrate academic content, work-readiness skills, and entrepreneurship education and through on the job learning, it will provide students with first-hand knowledge about equipment and techniques currently being used in industry.

The catalyst for the curriculum development and grant application came after a visit to the 2015 National CTE conference by McIntosh and Lemmon School Districts’ CTE Instructor Jim Hartwell, who returned with a wealth of information on Heavy Equipment Operations and simulator.

“Mr. Hartwell was so convincing that there is a need in South Dakota and our area to have such a program that we started to research opportunities so we could purchase the simulators,” McIntosh Superintendent Rob Davis said.

Hartwell was approached by S.D. CTE Southeast Region Director Brad Scott about applying for the Workforce Education Grant and with the help of representatives from Lake Area Technical Institute completed and submitted the application.

With McIntosh on its way to beginning this first of its kind program this fall, students will be able to earn a concurrent college credit through LATI, who will also provide McIntosh students and staff with the opportunity to observe instruction and hands-on learning activities.

Hartwell will teach the HEO 100 class, which feature three different simulators, an excavator, bulldozer and front-end loader.


At the National CTE Convention Hartwell was able to see and operate the SIM/LOG simulator system, which comes with one monitor and vibrating seat for the frontend loader, the excavator with three monitors in the front and a vibrating seat and the bulldozer with four monitors – three in front and one in back – and vibrating seat.

Supported by numerous local and statewide company and industry personnel, the program will provide career-focused, hands on and relevant learning opportunities to students, as well as one night a week adult education course for those that need practice operating equipment or may be considering a career change.

“We feel education and development in the operation of heavy equipment would be a great asset to our community,” Corson County Highway Department Superintendent B.J. Schell said.