COLOMA, Wis. (WAOW) -- Nearly 400 Wisconsin high school students got up close and personal with a career path some of them hadn't even considered Tuesday.
"Really experiencing what it would be like to be an operating engineer, to drive a bulldozer, to excavate and to have a career in this pathway," said Sara Cutler, executive director of Wisconsin Virtual Academies.
Hosted by the Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, students toured the training facility, learning about apprenticeships and even trying out machinery.
They taught me how to drive, it was pretty fun," said 11th grader Michael Brazee. "They were really friendly about it and really helpful in showing you how to do it."
Joining them along the way was U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
"A state like Wisconsin is especially well positioned to take the greatest advantage of the investments we're making at the national level," he said.
President Joe Biden's infrastructure law is slated to bring billions of dollars to Wisconsin, targeting roads, bridges and public transportation.
Buttigieg says that means more jobs for the Badger State, even at a time of record low unemployment.
"We'd much rather have low unemployment than the other way around," he said. "But that does create the challenges of hiring up and staffing up and skilling up. That's exactly why I'm here today."
For students, the event showed them the kinds of opportunities out there.
"It would be really nice to have another interaction with testing this to see if I really want to enter it," said 10th grader Cheyenne Fick.