Local 49 trains operating engineers who work as heavy-equipment operators, mechanics, pipeliners, and surveyors. We opened a 65,000-square-foot facility in 2006 complete with ten (10) state-of-the-art classrooms, eight (8) large shop bays, a welding shop, and two wash bays. Located conveniently between Duluth and the Twin Cities in Minnesota, the facility includes 30,000 square feet of enclosed space to serve as an indoor area for winter/all-weather training.
Since there was no access to natural gas for heating this far outside an urban area, Minnesota-based Kresch, O’Brien, Mueller & Associates (KOMA) helped the Local 49 design a vast, efficient geothermal system with over 122 wells in the grassy area adjacent to the main facility. The geo-thermal system provides in-floor heating throughout the mechanical areas and shop bays. A heat pump system supplies the Training Center with hot water. There is also a massive makeup air system.
KOMA also designed the building’s orientation to take advantage of east-west breezes that flow through the shop bays, and the materials used in the exterior siding help with heat gain during winter months.
Local 49 Training’s mission is to empower the members of Local 49 through training and education with knowledge and technical ability necessary in order to perform as leaders in their given craft. During the course of the training season, approximately 4,000 members pass through our doors.
All classes are instructed by experienced professionals and are intended for upgrading of members skills, productivity, and safety.
The Local 49 Apprenticeship Program is usually completed in ~3 years. Along with the 4000 hours of on-the-job training apprentices get 288 hours of related training at the Training Center in Hinckley, MN. The apprentice benefits not only from the training but also receives a fair wage as their skills increase along with a health welfare and pension plan – but no costly tuition bills, let alone student loans. Apprenticeship is one of the activities funded by the dues of all Local 49’s members.
Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports.