The Material Plasma Exposure Experiment (MPEX) is being constructed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to investigate critical fusion reactor issues, such as plasma–material interactions (PMIs) under reactor-relevant conditions and time scales. The linear device Proto-MPEX was used as a test bed to address anticipated research and development issues associated with heating scenarios and establish the physics basis for MPEX. The SOLPS-ITER code suite has been applied to understand plasma and neutral transport in Proto-MPEX and to increase confidence in predictive simulations for MPEX. Coupling between COMSOL and SOLPS is performed to implement a 2D electron heating profile of the helicon source. The simulations show reasonable agreement with the experimental data for plasma with helicon and auxiliary electron cyclotron heating (ECH). Both Bohm and constant diffusion (D$_\perp$: 0.5 m2 s−1 and $\chi_\perp$: 1 m2 s−1) simulations show similar levels of agreement with respect to the sparse experimental data available, assuming a few per cent impurity concentration. ECH significantly increases the target electron temperature, however, the target electron density is reduced compared to helicon-only heated plasmas due to an increase in flow velocity and radial losses. The simulations show that further increasing the ECH power results in an increase in the target electron density due to increased recycling flux and ionization. The results indicate that ECH significantly enhances the target heat flux, with ECH power of 50 kW increasing the target heat flux from 0.4 to 17 MW m−2. It is found that a small amount of gas puffing (GP) near the target plate can further increase the target heat fluxes at the higher ECH power cases, but the target heat flux is reduced at higher GP conditions due to a significant reduction in electron temperature via radiation. ECH and GP scenarios can generate a higher target flux, facilitating improved PMI studies with more reactor-relevant plasma conditions.