DEVILS LAKE -- The topic of prospective pilot training is often synonymous with flight simulators, technology which gives aspiring airmen and women the opportunity to experience flight without ever leaving the ground.

The topic of prospective pilot training is often synonymous with flight simulators, technology which gives aspiring airmen and women the opportunity to experience flight without ever leaving the ground.

While these pilots-in-training are the ones who get the most use out of machines like the one Lake Region State College just received (pictured to the right), most people rarely hear about the technicians charged with the duty of fixing and maintaing these machines, a task that requires extensive training and precision.

It is a field of study that always seems to be in high demand, particularly by companies who seek to hire technicians of this sort to maintain their own high-tech equipment. Unfortunately for those businesses, there just aren't that many college programs nationwide that offer such training to their students.

Now after the arrival of this new and highly advanced flight simulator, the Redbird FMX Flight Simulator to be specific, LRSC is looking to fill that void through its own Simulator Maintenance Technician program, known as "Sim Tech" for short.

The Sim Tech program at Lake Region State is one that prepares its students for troubleshooting, repair and maintenance of electronic and mechanical components of simulators used in pilot training, entertainment and other applications.

Students learn to use specialized tools, test equipment, built-in diagnostic equipment and technical data to isolate and locate faulty components or system malfunctions.

Jared Wilhelmi, an LRSC instructor in the Sim Tech department is thrilled with the arrival of the school's new flight simulator, which according to him is the most advanced simulator the school has ever possessed.

"Here at Lake Region State College, we've never had what's called a multiple channel or wrap-around visual system," Wilhelmi said. "This is the first device that will allow us to train students how to operate, maintain and troubleshoot a device like this."

The new flight simulator is also equipped with an sophisticated motion system, a characteristic often associated with the multi-million dollar simulators used by airlines nationwide. With LRSC having this new simulator, one that possesses the same brand of high-tech traits, it will allow students involved in the program to emerge two years later as a fully-trained technician, ready to enter the professional realm in a seamless transition.

Wilhelmi has indicated that most LRSC students who choose to pursue the Sim Tech program are often able to find employment shortly after graduation, which does not come as a surprise give just how many companies seem to be searching for techinicians like the ones Lake Region State has been producing.

In some cases, LRSC students have accepted job offers before even accepting their college diploma.

For most college students, their primary concern as they approach graduation day is being able to find suitable employment once they set out into the "real world." It seems like those involved with the Sim Tech program at Lake Region State are having no problem in that regard.

"Basically, what our graduates are cast to do is operate, maintain and play with a 20 million dollar simulator every day," Wilhemli said.

The Simulator Maintenance Technician program is one of the few training programs for simulator technicians in the United States.

The program provides hands-on training in computer systems, digital and solid state electronic devices, printed circuit troubleshooting and variety of other systems essential to the operation of state-of-the-art simulators.

"The main benefits to using it as part of the Simulator Maintenance Technician curriculum is we can now train students to operate, troubleshoot, and maintain both the motion and multi-channel visual systems," Wilhelmi said.

And that is what is going to make LRSC students that much more prepared for their professional careers.

Both of those systems that are featured on the Redbird FMX Flight Simulator are new to the Sim Tech program at Lake Region State, but after a bit of training, graduates will then be even better prepared for this high-tech career field.