Using HD Air Brake Driving Simulator for Teaching

Jeffry Educator Quebec Posted  
Heavy Duty

Heavy Duty air brakes are often a topic of discussion among HD instructors. Learning the basics of the system; the operation and troubleshooting can be difficult for the instructor impart to the students. On top of that there are now anti-lock, traction control and stability control systems to be learned and understood to a level of a competent technician.

Before the advent of electronic controls in braking systems many brake boards were been created by instructors all over North America, and we generally did a good job building them. I built one myself. Twenty-five years ago when I started teaching I thought that I could build anything. And for the most part I could, and to demonstrate that I spent many evenings and weekends, un-compensated, creating training aids at the expense of my young family. Time I'll never get back.

But enter this age where we are discussing autonomous vehicles, including trucks. The current braking systems on HD vehicles are a mere stepping stone to autonomous braking, which is already on the road being tested. How does an instructor teach this technology? Can they build it themselves? Well, until a year ago I thought so. 

A little over a year ago I was assigned to the design team for a HD brake board. Little did I know where this would take me, or my colleagues. The culmination of this project has produced a braking system simulator that works as vehicle would traveling down the road. The wheels spin, the brakes operate and slow the wheels down, the ABS, traction control, and stability control all functions as an operating vehicle would. Less the truck, dirt, noisy shop etc...

I know, there are those of you that want to teach it on a truck. And I get that. But how can you simulate a one or two wheel lockup on ice? Tell me, how you can demonstrate the trailer that is poised to roll over on a sharp curve on emergency stop? Can you pile a bunch of students in the cab and maybe the sleeper, hook up a trailer, take it out in the snow on a busy highway to show how these systems function? Can the subject be "covered" by a video and some text book work? I don't think so. So how do you do it? How do you teach it so that the student learns to a level that they have confidence to troubleshoot and repair it?

My pitch here is not the sale of a product. As an educator I am not involved in sales. But I am involved with student learning, the "pedagogy" (andragogy for adult learners) of learning. Is it enough for a student to watch a video? Does the student really understand? 

Ask most people this question when they are attending a class: "How do you learn best? What is your preferred learning method?" Over the past couple of decades I have been asking these questions. Experienced educators know the answer, as I'm sure you do as well. 

The learner says, "I learn best by doing." Not by videos, not by reading textbooks, but by hands-on where they can visually see, hear and feel what is happening.

Starting right now there has been one view of the following video. The link is not generally known, but here it is for you. For a week or so this video will be available exclusively through the Diagnostic Network. 

Look for more in depth examples for teachers in the future here as the ConsuLab team, as a founding member of the Diagnostic Network, shares more on the topic of learning and the tools we use to facilitate student learning.