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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

WJU to Create Underground Mine Training Through MSHA Grant

Tue Oct 4 2011

A new grant will fund Wheeling Jesuit University's sponsored programs to create a two-day workshop designed to both prevent and prepare for emergencies in underground mines.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced $1 million in grant funds will go to eight organizations to provide education and training within the mining industry. The Brookwood-Sago grants program was established through a provision in the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006. This funding will be used to develop and implement training and related materials for mine emergency preparedness as well as for the prevention of accidents in underground mines.

Wheeling Jesuit University will receive $144,000 to create the Active Training Portal for Mine Safety through its Center for Educational Technologies and National Technology Transfer Center. The university will partner with the Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.

This program will develop, implement, and evaluate a 16-hour train-the-trainer course that applies active learning to underground mine emergency prevention and preparedness.

Hope Coffield, program manager for the Emergency Preparedness and Worker Safety Training Program at the Center for Educational Technologies, will manage the day-to-day operations of the project under the direction of J. Davitt McAteer, vice president for sponsored programs at WJU and an internationally recognized expert on mining safety.

"Miners work in an increasingly sophisticated, complex, and hazardous environment that demands a full range of critical thinking and decision-making skills," Coffield said. "These skills are best developed and exercised when learners have an active responsibility for applying knowledge to scenarios, when they share experiences as a community of learners, and when they teach others. With this funding we will increase the number of trainers, mine operators, and, ultimately, miners taking part in effective safety training."

The Active Training Portal for Mine Safety will continue the university's efforts to continuously improve mine safety training.

Last week the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) awarded Wheeling Jesuit a contract of $148,823 through its Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR). The Center for Educational Technologies and the National Technology Transfer Center will also team up on that project under McAteer's leadership to improve how research on mining safety gets disseminated to the mining community itself.

In addition, the university's ongoing Mining and Industrial Safety Technology and Training Innovation (MISTTI) project, funded through NIOSH, has worked to improve the health and safety of miners and other workers by enhancing and facilitating the introduction of new and existing technologies, training, and technology transfer approaches from government and private research facilities into the mining industry. That contract helps fund the annual International Mining Health and Safety Symposium held by WJU.

The Coal Impoundment Location and Information System, a combined effort of the Center for Educational Technologies and National Technology Transfer Center as well, created a user-friendly website that lists locations of impoundments in a six-state area and provides real-time information about emergency situations and evacuation plans.

"We look forward to partnering with the Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College," McAteer said of the new MSHA-funded project. "With their underground mine simulation and state-of-the-art 3D simulator, the academy sets the standard for training those interested in a career in mining or energy technology. We look forward to combining their expertise with Wheeling Jesuit's nationally recognized programs in curriculum development, professional development, and educational research at the Center for Educational Technologies."