Caterpillar Visitors Center celebrates one year anniversary

By WEEK Reporter

October 19, 2013 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 10:06 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Saturday marked the one year anniversary of the Caterpillar Visitors Center and the company is looking to make next year even better.

Hetal Lala is a supervising engineer for Caterpillar’s rail division. On Saturday he came to the Visitors Center with his two children to celebrate its one year anniversary.

"They love it,” Lala said. “They go around having fun, waving their hands with excitement saying my dad designed this."

And their father really did. Two of his ten years at Caterpillar were dedicated to making a part of the CAT D6T track-type tractor. His design is a component that Caterpillar uses in many of their large machines.

"It's great to see your products all here,” Lala said. “You get to show it to your customers and show it to your kids."

One of the best parts is kids can play with everything.

For the celebration, Manager Kathryn Spitznagle spearheaded a raffle for an exclusive factory tour and a Nascar CAT car display.

"When you build something so wonderful like this, you think, 'if they build it, are they going to come?,” Spitznagle said.

This year more than a 100,000 people did from 50 states and 22 countries. Ten years of work brought 53 videos and 28 different exhibits. People can learn, design and play. However, Spitznagle said the first year was not perfect.

"There's always lessons learned, and one of the big lessons we learned is that we need to develop a curriculum for children,” she said. “That's what we have just launched in September. The curriculum aligns to the Illinois core standards for math, language arts and we're now working on science."

Next year they are working to improve the center by developing more interactive simulations and events open to the community.

This weekend is about celebrating hard work.