Matt Portfleet and Marisa Roerig headshot


Matt Portfleet and Marisa Roerig


CMSP at Michigan Technological University

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We did our CMSP last year. We came to the conference early. We took a three day review course and then we sat for the test. It was very challenging but fun at the same time. I think we bonded with our group that we did the training with. The test, although it was challenging, it was exciting! We had to wait like six weeks to get results. But that was kind of a fun process to see what we got back and then get feedback as well, in the different categories, and how we scored. It was an overall really good experience.

The instructors are very good. The gentleman who helped us with the pre-test for three days was really helpful. I had a good baseline knowledge for the test and then test itself to be honest, was different than I expected. Maybe a little harder than I expected, but I think that's good. It's going to be a challenge and I was very pleased with the whole experience.

We met a lot of people to, from all over the country, all different roles; surface, underground, specifics, different safety directors, a lot of people that work on the education side, mining directors, HR people, engineers. So yeah, it's just a great group of people. I would say if you have a good background knowledge, the mining part is easy. I think the review course covers a lot more details like the Human Factor in Safety, which I think a lot of times as a very overlooked whole genre of topics that people don't think about.

And the test was very focused a lot of times on how people react to training, how people respond to different types of interaction with employees. That type of thing was a really important part of training. I think it's a great, cross section of a test.  With CMSP, they give you a body of knowledge, which was what, a two hundred thousand page, some tens of thousands of pages, very overwhelming and a little bit intimidating.

But our instructor kind of walked us through each subject section, and I learned just so much from that three days. So, yeah, even if you took the three day review without the exam, it was hugely beneficial for what we do. We deal with the training side exclusively, but I think I see a lot of just even talking to other trainees that were training, and there are a lot of very bad trainers out there.

Not to be judgmental, but there's a lot of very poorly organized classes, a lot of very poorly run programs. I think this whole process can open your eyes to see there's a lot better ways to do things and really need for it to keep the industry safe and to communicate effectively to everybody in the industry.

And it wasn't just like your typical safety topics like confined space or ventilation. There was that broad scope of knowledge and the human side of it, which is really asking what motivates an individual to learn? I think it is the safety culture. The safety culture is key. The safety culture of a mine site, how to create that mine site within your business or your workplace and keep that part of the training is huge. You have to sometimes in certain companies shift culture.

Our instructor was really good at communicating that, and giving us some great information. He had a resource and booklist that we could go back and read to later. It was it was a mind shifter. It took you to a new level.
I think it set a standard which I was really happy to be part of and to meet, to pass! That was good. Even though she beat me by a couple of percent.

I think the CMSP is a huge benefit of being a member of SME. I was really happy. I tried for a while to get with the old CMSP program that kind of went defunct. To go through and then it disappeared. I was really excited to see that CMSP got picked up by SME, and be part of that organization. Maybe I'm biased, I'm a safety trainer, but that was a huge bonus to me. Walking around today at MINEXCHANGE was just great to see a bunch of different people, some familiar faces.

The technical sessions are vast, we got to pick some that we like to see, and sometimes they are very technical. I like to get updates from SME weekly via email, access to new video content, which I watch not only to better myself as a trainer, but to bring to class at times, and the magazine. I really like to get the magazine.
Recent technology is making training much more interactive, much more realistic, much more personal in a lot of ways. The other thing I see, too, is a need to focus the industry more on that human factor, of getting the training to people that can understand, especially as we get new generation of miners in there that are on their cell phones all the time.

Sitting in a class and watching a video is not always the best training. They need something else; to be interactive. Well, they need more exposure. People complain about millennials all the time, but I like to remind people that we're now in our mid-thirties and we're working, so it's not us anymore. It's Gen Z, the next generation coming in. They're very young and the training is going to have to shift.

It can't just be sitting in front of the computer or the TV, watching a 1998 training video. It's going to have to be more hands on. We're going to take way more time with task training, in my opinion. Slow it down, be more thorough. Do a better evaluation process. Does this person understand what I've taught them? Can they do the job the way I've taught them? Will they do it safely? And then more follow up.

Task training is going to be huge, there is going to be a big shift. And I think it's also not only the younger generation, but the old-school miners who are the old diesel mechanics, great miners, great mechanics, and great people, with a wealth of knowledge.

But as you get machinery, like at the last MinExpo, half the expo was like electric battery powered equipment. And those guys need entirely new task training to deal with stuff they've never dealt with in their life. And those are excellent employees and they'll be great employees once they get trained in, but they have to have a lot of training in new technologies in computer interface equipment.

We talked about that in our review course. Will experienced, can we say older generation? the seasoned generation? Will they take the time and will they be willing to share their knowledge with the new incoming generation? Because we have to bridge that gap. And will they respect, the young generation sharing their computer skills? The new haul truck drivers are bringing a different skill set into the workplace.