The Coal Mining Technology Associate in Applied Science (AAS) Degree at Rend Lake College is back in operation and looking for prospective mining students, 10 of whom will get to attend tuition-free.
Fueled by the construction of new coal mines in Southern Illinois, Rend Lake College is reviving the program by offering 10 two-year tuition waivers in the Mining Technology AAS Degree program which begins this August. Students selected for these waivers will pay no tuition; they will only pay for books and fees. Students will study ventilation, roof control, mine operations and maintenance. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be prepared to go directly to work in the mining industry or transfer to a four-year institution to further their studies.
"This is full-contact coal mining," said Terry Wilkerson, RLC's Applied Science and Technology Division Chair. "There will be live equipment to work on, task training, safety training and more. This is the closest you can come to actual coal mining."
RLC also offers five occupational certificates in addition to the Associate in Applied Science Degree. Students who follow the AAS program curriculum will earn several of these certificates in addition to the Associate in Applied Science Degree.
"With the degree, you are a more well-rounded employee and will have more opportunity to excel," Wilkerson said. Of course, the occupational certificates in addition to the degree can add to a student's resume.
Also in August, Rend Lake College will open the new Coal Mining Training Center on campus. This new facility features a simulated underground mine where students can experience and work in a dark atmosphere and practice many of the basic job tasks of an underground coal miner. A large open area in the building will house mining equipment which the college is now in the process of acquiring. A continuous miner, roof bolter, mini-track, mantrip, and mine power center are projected to be a few of the actual pieces of equipment on which students can work and gain valuable experience.
"The simulated mine will give our students a huge step up. We'll be comparable to the Mine Safety and Health Administration's Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, W.Va. This is hands-on experience and real-world application. We are committed and we're here for the long haul," Wilkerson said.
Anyone interested in applying for one of the tuition waivers for the Mining Technology program or learning more are welcome to call (618) 437-5321, Ext. 2373, and ask for Gretchen.