MARQUETTE — School may be out at Northern Michigan University, but a select few students are spending their summer taking some very important lessons.
Northern Michigan University’s newest summer students are three weeks into their newest lesson. The school’s newest CDL Truck Driving program is off and rolling.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster, so they’re having really high points where they’re being successful – maybe today they backed a straight line without any problems, and the next day they just struggle with that,” said CDL Instructor Jeffery Rose. “So I’ve seen them have really high points when they’re excited and it’s working well, then get pretty frustrated with the whole process, but that’s all how they learn.”
Of course, every time you learn something new, things might be intimidating.
“It was a little scary at first, but we’re all starting to get the hang of it, and it’s all starting to sink in,” said Student Karen Wiegand. “I think it might be a little easier than I thought. Driving a vehicle which is almost 74 feet in length is a little daunting to even consider. But once you get in it and understand how it works and maneuvers, it’s a little easier than I thought.”
But, it’s not as easy as it seems. Compared to a normal car, a few of the elements are drastically different.
“Backing is very challenging. Some of it is easier than others, but turning and making sure you don’t run cones over or run into building parts is a little bit scary,” said Wiegand. “And then what they call double shifting. These are manual trucks, and in order to learn a manual shifting process, you have to double shift, and it’s completely different from a standard manual car.”
The class gives students a chance to learn in the best way possible.
“Sometimes the mistakes they make are actually very beneficial, because they can learn,” said Rose. “That way it’s better have the mistake happen here than out in the real world on the road.”
After taking the five–week class, students will take their test before they are allowed to drive on their own. The test includes an inspection, a backing test and a normal road test. Each of the students are confident that the training here will get them on the road in no time.