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Technology Partnership to Speed Utility Workforce Development

Aug. 31, 2022
Des Moines Area Community College implements an immersive digital curriculum for line mechanic apprenticeships.

Index AR Solutions, a creator of digital workforce training, announced a partnership with Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) that will give students access to modern, field-proven learning materials and help prepare them for a career at utilities like MidAmerican Energy.

Under the terms of a teaming agreement, Index is implementing an immersive, multimodal digital curriculum for classroom instruction at DMACC that will provide students the exact skills and information needed to be hired as a power line mechanic. The first-of-its-kind curriculum is available in DMACC’s Ankeny Campus, delivered via tablets to 15 students enrolling in a two-semester course that started on August 24. 

The materials include 20 Index eBook titles that were originally developed in close collaboration with MidAmerican to help train lineman apprentices. With the eBooks, DMACC classroom instructors and students will benefit from nearly 1,000 eBook pages of vetted content and 200 instructional videos of actual line mechanics performing work and giving guidance. The videos also emphasize the importance of safety and commitment to customer service – with seasoned workers who share wisdom and real-world stories from the field.

Index eBooks provide a way to learn and consume information in a way that is most familiar to the next generation of worker. eBooks include digital annotation tools that enable students to take notes and highlight text for review later. Embedded quizzes and tests allow instructors to track student progress.

The tablets also feature 22 interactive Index mobile apps that use augmented reality (AR), three-dimensional models and animations to teach students how to identify key parts or complete common tasks, such as how to troubleshoot a transformer, step by step. The augmentations also walk students through the safety considerations and tools that are needed for each step and overlay critical information onto the component they are studying.

“Utilities and trades across the country are struggling to keep up with workforce development needs,” said Rob Denson, President of DMACC. “Our partnership with Index is a unique career and technical education model that delivers a proven solution to solving today’s acute workforce issues.”

Including the Line Mechanic program being deployed at DMACC, Index and MidAmerican have created 13 digital training programs to date. The programs are currently used in the classrooms of MidAmerican’s training facility in Des Moines. They also proved exceptionally valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trainers were able to host virtual sessions using the immersive digital curriculums, which then become a reference material for workers outside of the classroom.

“Bringing the Line Mechanic training program to DMACC further extends the strategic investments MidAmerican has made in worker education in recent years,” said Chelsea McCracken, Vice President for Safety, Training and Development at MidAmerican. “We appreciate Index and DMACC for their efforts in making this valuable curriculum available in the community college setting.”

In addition to delivering the training materials and iPads to DMACC administrators, Index is also providing robust, ongoing support to help ensure instructors and students get maximum benefit from the course. Index team members will host “train-the-trainer” sessions on site for DMACC instructors. Index is also hosting weekly videoconference calls for students over the course of the semester to walk them through each eBook and app.

“The Line Mechanic program we are delivering today was created thanks to a close partnership with MidAmerican, helping them eliminate learning friction and reimagine how training happens,” said Dan Arczynski, CEO at Index AR Solutions. “We are excited to now bring this program to DMACC, giving college students access to the very same training material utilities are using.”

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