A Different Kind of Toy Story

May 2, 2017

I’ve heard plenty of stories in which an auto mechanic said he played with Hot Wheels when he was a kid and his passion for cars never faded. I know an engineer who credits hours she spent playing with legos and an erector set as the foundation of her career. There are writers who spent their lunch money on comic books that built their vocabularies and taught them storytelling. I, myself, had a 20-year run in broadcasting that was spawned at my high school radio station.

Having fun can lead to having passion, which can lead to having a career.

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Extreme Sandbox is an adventure company (with locations in Hastings, MN, and Pottsboro, TX) where people pay to “play” on actual heavy equipment. Recently, with a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation Fund, 40 students from Warren County High School in Warrenton, NC, took a 20-hour bus ride to the Extreme Sandbox in Hastings.

The group of students learned how to operate Komatsu wheel loaders, excavators, and crawler dozers. The students received training and supervision from expert instructors to get the chance to see what it’s like to operate heavy equipment in a 10-acre “sandbox.” To top it all off, they also learned more about the variety of job prospects in the construction industry.

Mike Hayes, the director of distributor development for Komatsu America Corp. said, “One of our goals in partnering with Extreme Sandbox was to inspire a new generation of men and women who are good with their hands to consider careers in the construction industry. It provides great employment opportunities, and experienced heavy equipment operators and technicians can make six-figure incomes.”

Partnership between business, government, and education can be a pretty good recipe for filling the gap between skills and the lack of trained workers in the construction industry. The fun that’s had playing in this sandbox can lead to a passion for iron.