Driving Simulator Provides Experience for CDL Students

Group of students and instructors with the driving simulator
Instructor Brain Eso, students Herman Nissley and Jay Dennison, and instructor Dale Fisher are ready to test drive.

We’re thrilled that classes at the new CDL program and training facility at Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center (SCCTC) are now underway. However, Cabot’s investment in future truckers doesn’t end there. We recently purchased an L3Harris TranSim Truck Driving Simulator for students to take their classroom learning to the next level.

Jay testing out the driving simulator

The simulator will provide students with an enormous range of virtual conditions, as well as mechanical and natural elements that require absolute concentration by drivers of tankers, tractor trailers and other large vehicles. Use of the unit will be paired with on-road instruction, in addition to classroom discussions. 

With the supervision of their instructors, students Fred Shiptoski, Jay Dennison and Herman Nissley had the opportunity to take the simulator for a virtual spin. After strapping into the seat, starting the engine, and doing a systems check, each student set off into an imagined driving scenario portrayed on three high-definition screens.

Herman test drive

The instructor chooses the appropriate program level for the driver, which determines maximum speed and variables such as fog, wind gusts and even a Pennsylvania favorite, a deer crossing the road. The seat can also be set into motion to mimic the feeling of a rough roadway.

It’s those inconsistencies that make this top-of-the-line unit so valuable. Even when the students are ready to move from the school’s paved driving range to rural roads and eventually highways, the instructors cannot make an animal cross the road on cue nor bring on a sudden snow squall. Learning involves muscle memory, instructor Brian Eso explained. “It’s about how your body will react when you hear or feel something.”

Another program allows students to practice shifting without visual distractions. “That way, they’re not tearing up a transmission or risking injury to the public,” Fisher remarked. The unit records the data from each test run and rates the driver’s abilities in areas like speed control, braking and maintaining safe distances from other vehicles. A camera mounted above the windshield records the driver’s movements. “If they tell us that they are keeping an eye on their mirrors and they are not,” Eso noted, “We can show them.”

I stopped into the CDL school to get a look at the new driving simulator with Executive Director Alice Davis and instructor Gary Fenton. 

SCCTC’s Executive Director, Dr. Alice Davis, also gave the simulator a test run. She sees the driving simulator as both an important instrument for the students and a recruitment tool for the CDL school. Potential students will have an opportunity to climb into the simulator and test it out at a July 15 open house event, even if they are not old enough to drive a real truck. “This will give them a chance to see if truck driving feels right to them before they spend their money,” Davis suggested.

SCCTC CDL instructor Dale Fisher stresses that “It’s a simulator, not a duplicator. The only way to get the real-world experience is to go out into the real world. But this is about as close as you can get to reality.”

Bill desRosiers

Raised in Highland Falls, New York, William desRosiers learned about responsible resource development, firsthand, as a part of his family's mining business. William received his B.S. in Management, B.A.in History and MBA from Misericordia University. He currently serves in External Affairs for Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. His primary responsibilities include strengthening media relationships, managing company-run fundraising programs, building better community relations and representing Cabot every chance he has.