On Friday, August 22, the inland river industry gathered at SCI's Paducah Center for Maritime Education to celebrate the installation of 14 new commercial projectors that display complex visual scenes in two simulation theatres. The event was co-sponsored by SCI and the West Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, which granted $250,000 of the $400,000 cost for the new projection system.
SCI Paducah center director Captain Greg Menke welcomed guests and provided testimony about the immediate positive impact on simulation graphics. SCI President and Executive Director Rev. David Rider thanked the West Kentucky Workforce Investment Board for its vote of confidence and noted the positive economic impact of SCI's training mission on the Paducah economy. West Kentucky Workforce Investment Board Chair Clyde Elrod provided welcome comments, and Russell Salsman from the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet discussed the importance of the inland industry and its workers to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Dave Brown, Vice President of Ingram Barge, provided industry perspective on simulator training. Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton attended the event.
Fr. Rider also put the projector installation in the historic context of SCI's maritime training mission. "Next year, SCI celebrates is 175th year of mission to strengthen the spiritual, humanitarian and professional wellbeing of mariners. In 1899, we began our first maritime education, teaching seafarers about masts and riggings of sailing ships. Today's installation begins a complete overhaul of our simulator technology so that SCI can again reinvent itself for the needs of tomorrow's mariners. When we complete anticipated upgrades of our software and hardware, our simulation theatres will be second to none in their ability to facility safety, emergency and security training to meet the growing demands of the industry that we love and are honored to serve."
The day's celebration ended with refreshments and tours of the simulation theatres. SCI's Director of Maritime Education Eric Larsson gave a behind-the-scenes tour of a theatre, along with an oral history of our work in Paducah. Guests got so close to the well-lit graphics that a few complained of sea sickness. Everyone took a turn at the control sticks, and no crashes were reported.