Pitt County program uses virtual reality to show students skilled professions

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:14 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2023 at 8:31 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -An event in the east allowed students to get hands-on experience in different career fields.

The Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce welcomed The Be Pro, Be Proud event Tuesday and will do so again Wednesday at Pitt Community College.

The program uses two custom-built trailers equipped with virtual reality technology to let students get hands-on experience with skilled professions.

Middle and high school students in Pitt County spent the day at Pitt Community College, learning from Be Pro Be Proud, an organization that helps students get a better understanding of the employment opportunities for construction, manufacturing, transportation, and utility industries through virtual reality.

“This experience really allows the students to see that hands on and see the businesses at work and the careers at work a lot of our businesses students may have heard of it but they don’t know what actually goes on with that career but seeing it firsthand makes a big difference for our students” Pitt County Schools Career and Technical Education Director Beth Anne Trueblood said.

Students could try their hand welding, driving tractors, working in bucket trucks, and operating different kinds of heavy machinery, all through virtual reality headsets and simulations.

“We put them on simulators that actually gives them some hands-on opportunities so that they can have a chance to maybe spark an interest in one of these careers. and then once that happens, they can join the movement and put what they are interested in and these employers will see that they are interested and reach out to them that they may need to take and then closer to graduation they may offer to pay for their training” Be Pro Be Proud Operational Specialist Josh Seaford said.

Not only can students gain access to information on jobs they may be interested in pursuing, it can also help filter out ones that may not be as appealing.

“This gives students in middle school and high school and opportunity to see those careers in action and not only to see what they would like to do but also cross out some things that they may not be interested in,” Trueblood said.

Be Pro Be Proud says that they look to change the perception of technical careers and want to increase training to address the labor shortages in skilled trade professions.

The simulation exercise was a part of Grow Local week which has more than 2,900 students and 86 businesses participating.