HOUSTON – Two Houston high schools are using high-tech simulators to teach students how to use heavy equipment, like forklifts and cranes.

The training is part of HISD’s maritime program, which is designed to give kids the tools and connections to get a job in the Port of Houston one day.

Fifty-thousand dollar forklift and crane simulators were installed at Yates High School and Austin High School this school year.

I.L.A. 1351 also donated a real forklift for Yates High School students to practice on.

“They don’t really have to go to college. I know it’s bad to say, but some of these guys graduate and they have nothing else to do. They can come work at the port, make a good living, and take care of their families,” said Angelo Potts, Vice President of I.L.A. 1351.

The goal is for maritime students to graduate with industry certification.

“Yeah, I think I could do it. With a little bit of hard work, everything requires hard work,” said Kehlin Farooq, a 9th grader in the maritime program at Yates.

“I think it’s great for me. I want to go to college for it, so this is the best class to be in,” said Ricky Jenkins, another 9th grader.

Educators say the work students put in will pay off long after they leave the campus.

“Maritime industry affords the opportunity for a good living. It’s hard work and it’s hard on the family, but my family is happy,” said Jim Meador, a teacher at Yates High School.