Students at Guilford Technical Community College’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing Can Now Work Virtually Before Hitting the Shop

With North Carolina considered a top state for manufacturing jobs (it boasts the largest manufacturing workforce in the Southeast), Guildford Technical Community College (GTCC) is prepared to groom more workers to fill any potential skills gap.1 GTCC’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing opened the doors of its 250,000 square-foot facility in 2018; the six-acre building offers more space to five college programs and more state-of-the-art equipment. Thanks to program expansion, its welding program now has over 70 welding and cutting stations as opposed to its previous 32.

“I have partnerships with several employers in the community. That way, we design a program so that students are prepared to go to work for that company,” said longtime welding instructor Don Ellington. Ellington has been at GTCC for over 15 years and played a major role in the renovation and opening of the center. Ellington knows the community has a need for quality welders, and he believes his program can help solve that gap.

With the expanded facility a few things are crucial to making it successful: recruitment, ensuring students are engaged and ensuring that Ellington is producing quality workers for the community. One addition he made to his program to address each of these requirements: virtual welding simulators.

“These kids can try out welding on the simulator to see if this is something they are even interested in and I can evaluate their progress before putting them in a booth,” said Ellington. “I can adjust the simulator to create a WPS to meet the needs of a local employer. We create modules that are custom to those employers with very specific WPS’s.”

Another benefit of the simulators is cost savings. Ellington believes he will save about 10% on metal by using these machines. More importantly, his students will receive proper training to ensure they are a good fit for this career path.

“I see value in saving material costs, but more, I see value in students getting a common understanding of the basics, such as travel angle, work angle, nozzle distant, speed and straightness,” stated Ellington.

GTCC’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing utilizes several Realityworks, Inc. products, including the guideWELD® VR welding simulator and guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system. Both tools were created and are used in educational institutions around the country to help today’s 21st Century students learn correct welding techniques and engage them with authentic, hands-on learning experiences while addressing classroom management and safety concerns. For more information on Realityworks products, visit: www.realityworks.com


1 https://edpnc.com/industries/

How to Choose the Best Simulation for Your Welding Program

Note: This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of Techniques. ACTE members can read the complete article on page 8 of the current issue. Not a member? Click here to join and access this monthly career and technical education publication.

THE DRIVE FOR CREDENTIALING IN CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE) HAS BEEN A BOON
for students, inspiring educators to rethink how they prepare students for high-demand, high-skill and high-wage jobs. CTE program administrators strive to hire certified instructors, and funding is often based on the number of students to achieve certification in high-demand, high-wage and high-skill fields.

In the past, this might have meant purchasing high-cost equipment to mimic the workplace. Students would train on those products and perhaps become proficient. But now preparing students for these jobs is less about equipment, and more about the skills necessary to move into a career in a chosen field.

The Cost of Hands-on Learning
When you think about a hands-on learning resource for welding programs, you might consider that welding is hands-on by nature. Often, welding students gather at a distance, all dressed in protective equipment and darkening helmets, as they observe an instructor demonstrate a very intricate technique. Students are expected to watch, understand and then practice. ­is can be a very costly endeavor; students learning to weld can go through materials very quickly, and they don’t always develop a deep understanding of what they are doing. Simulation, in comparison, allows students to
experience welding in a way they can’t in the booth — learning, for example, why a work angle is critical to creating a weld that will hold. Simulation allows them to experience and improve the skills they need to become certified welders.

Simulation
Simulation is a method for practice and learning. It is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones. ­rough simulation, students can replicate the real-world welding experience and become immersed in an interactive fashion. is results in a deeper understanding of the necessary skills, and it enables them to transfer those skills even faster. In welding, students can master techniques like work angle, travel angle and speed in a safe environment before they enter a welding booth.

Studies show that students who learn to weld in a virtual environment learn faster and more efficiently (Stone, McLaurin, Zhong & Watts, 2013). To create a quality weld, you need to master speed. Welding procedure specifications require a welder to perform an optimal weld at a specified number of inches per minute. If you were told to move your hand from left to right at 11 inches per minute, how would you know how to do that? How would you know if you were going too fast, too slow or just right? You would practice and practice, examining your welds for defects and hoping you would eventually gain mastery.

In the virtual world, students are guided so that they gain muscle memory from the start. They receive immediate feedback and are given the opportunity to alter their speed if necessary. Once student welders have mastered their technique in the virtual world, they can move on to real equipment and welding metal. Making these resources available to many students at once is crucial to the success of the welding workforce.

ACTE members, log in to read the complete article on page 8 of the May Techniques issue. Not a member? Click here to join.

Diane Ross is the education development manager for Realityworks, Inc., where she works with states and school districts to develop better programs, products and pathways in career and technical education programs. She has a master’s in secondary education from Marshall University and is an advisor for the National Standards for FACS Education. Email her at diane.ross@realityworks.com.

 

Geriatric Simulators Teach Empathy to Future Health Care Workers in California

Kathy Thompson, LVN, is an instructor at the Health Academy at La Sierra High School in Riverside, CA. A partnership with the county office, the high school, Kaiser Permanente and local universities and colleges, the academy has been in place since 1991 as a way to offer health care pathway training to students who may not otherwise have exposure to these careers. Thompson’s senior students spend the fall semester at the school learning how to care for patients, then spend four days a week at the local hospital in various departments alongside health care professionals.

“I very much like the hands-on activities that drive home the realities of aging,” Thompson explained. “When working with adolescents, they are so invincible. It is good for them to experience the vulnerability of the elderly and for them to live in their shoes, even if for a class period.”

In the spring of 2018, she saw Realityworks’ Geriatric Sensory Impairment Kit and Geriatric Medication Management Simulation Kit in action at the California Educating for Careers conference and decided they would be a good addition to her program. Designed for secondary and postsecondary education programs, these kits allow users to experience a variety of age-related physical challenges. The director of the program saw Thompson’s enthusiasm for the geriatric training simulators and was able to support the addition to the program thanks to available finances through grant funds.

“At 17 or 18, the students have no real concept of what it is like to age,” Thompson observed. “Students were hesitant to even touch the elderly and could not relate to their circumstances of living. I had no way to help prepare them for this part of the experience.”

Thompson made a two-week unit using the two kits and the accompanying curricula. She addresses one lesson per class; students must take notes during a slide presentation, experience the impact of the specific condition and reflect on the impact.

Read the rest of Kathy Thompson’s story here.

Learn more about the Realityworks Geriatric Sensitivity Training Tools here.

Customer Spotlight: Marana High School Welding Program

By Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

“Ultimately, everything we do at school is an investment in our future. Our return on investment in CTE programs is extremely high.” – Dr. David Mandel, Principal, Marana High School, AZ

I had the privilege to walk into one of the top high school welding and manufacturing shops in Arizona. It was a privilege for many reasons (not just because it was 97 degrees outside and air-conditioned in the shop). It was a privilege because once I stepped into Marana High School Welding Instructor Kenton Webb’s welding shop, I knew there was something special about this program.

Located about 20 minutes northwest of downtown Tucson and about 5 minutes from Saguaro National Park, Webb’s welding program sees about 250 students go through the shop doors every year – an increase of almost 200 students from when Webb started the program almost a decade ago. In the last nine years, the program has come to be one of the premier high school welding shops in the state, which is why our team jumped at the opportunity to visit in person and learn how Webb utilizes Realityworkswelding training tools and others to engage his students and help them develop skills.

As we walked around Webb’s impressive shop for the first time, we asked him to tell us how the shop came to be. As Webb recalled expanding from a single small shop to two, securing the support of school administrators and funding from grants, etc., I found myself becoming more impressed – especially when he shared that he designed most of the shop’s layout himself, and his students built many of welding booths themselves.

Today, Webb uses a combination of simulators and other spark-free training tools along with live welding training tools to help his students become proficient.

First-year students use Realityworks’ guideWELD® VR welding simulator to hone basic welding skills, eventually moving on to using the guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system to understand proper welding techniques (and master bad habits). Finally, Webb lets students loose to weld without any guidance, challenging them to identify and assess their own welds using the RealCareer™ Weld Defects Kit.

What we saw and heard made Webb’s passion for educating clear. Webb knows that being able to help his students truly understand where an in-demand skill like welding could take them is key to engaging them in welding training, and the impact of that understanding was obvious with every student we spoke with. We talked with Kylie, a senior who, of her own accord, took a week-long underwater welding class during spring break. During our conversation, her excitement and pride in the skill Webb has helped her hone came through loud and clear. With every discussion we had, it became more and more obvious that Webb’s students saw welding not only as a skill, but a career.

Our visit happened to occur two days before Marana High School seniors graduated, so there was a palpable excitement in the air. When I asked a few of them of their post-graduation plans, I was struck by how confident they were – a trait I credit in part to the great work being done at Marana High School. These students had plans; they had summer jobs and post-secondary educational opportunities lined up. They were getting offers out of high school for well-paying jobs and they were being accepted at tech schools and colleges.

I had a chance to speak briefly with Marana High School Principal Dr. David Mandel. One of the statements he made stuck with me. He stated that no matter what each Marana High School educator is teaching, “all kids are career-bound,” and they take that very seriously. It’s clear to me that with hard work comes success, and with a passion for welding education and training, Marana High School and Kenton Webb are making a huge difference for welding education, and for each and every student that goes through his classroom.

Hear Webb’s students react to their welding experiences by watching the complete video.

Coding Grant Helps North Carolina Students Explore In-Demand Career Options

Written by Timm Boettcher – Realityworks President and CEO

In Beaufort County, North Carolina, programmers are in high demand. Job forecasts conducted by local workforce development boards show a 94% growth rate for programming jobs among 27 eastern NC counties from 2016-2021; programming skills, along with tooling, machine and drone operation skills, have been among the most in-demand job skills listed by local and regional manufacturing businesses for three straight years.

When Beaufort County Schools (BCS) saw an opportunity to fund an extension of the district’s coding program into K-12 classrooms across the district and at the local community college, administrators didn’t hesitate to apply. Last fall, North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson announced that 16 school districts, including Beaufort County, had been awarded grants totaling $800,000 through the second round of the Coding and Mobile App Development Grant Program, which was launched in 2017 with funding from the state’s general assembly.

“BCS’s strategic STEM plan, the use of Digital Learning Competencies training, and the injection of real-world needs provided through our advisory process and partnerships with our local industries produced the perfect conditions for synergy around STEM including coding,” said Wendy Petteway, BCS Career and Technical Education Department Director. “We needed to expand beyond where we were and extend coding into K-12 across the district and at Beaufort County Community College, and the coding grant has provided the opportunity for that expansion.”

Click here to read the entire article, which was originally posted in ACTE’s IndustryConnect blog in March 2019. 

3 Ways Product Training Could Benefit Your Program

By Andrea Phan, Realityworks Training Coordinator

Don’t let your new cool learning tools collect dust. Take advantage of training opportunities from Realityworks! Whether your training takes place on-site or online, your personalized sessions will be hosted by product experts who are committed to ensuring you know how to make the most of your tools. Here are three way using our product training opportunities can advance your program:

1. Take the guesswork out of where to start and how to implement your new classroom tools. Training will help jumpstart your product implementation process by giving you the know-how to use your new hands-on learning aides effectively and efficiently. Becoming familiar with how the products work will give you the confidence to integrate them into your classroom and use them with your students. Being prolific with your hands-on learning aids and available curriculum will maximize the time you spend with your students; you’ll spend more time teaching content and less time planning and preparing.

2. Hear best practices experienced teachers have shared with us. Over the years, we’ve learned their unique tips and tricks from teachers as well as tried and true best practices. We are always impressed by new ways teachers use our products to engage students daily.  (In fact, this recent blog post covers a few of those ideas!) Through Realityworks’ training sessions, you have access to experienced professionals like veteran teachers; most of our trainers have been with us for over 10 years.

3. Ask questions tailored to your program and desired classroom use. Training can be customized for you to help you carve out the time, energy and strategy needed to become a product expert. Discussions can be personalized to help address issues that are most relevant for your student population or a certain situation. We know you’re very busy and having a designated training time will also get you jumpstarted on using our time-saving curriculum, which can be modified to fit your classroom needs.

Our trainers value time with our customers and feel it’s the best way we can learn – from you, the teacher. We look forward to making you a product expert and hope you don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel. Learn from us, as well as your fellow teachers, on how to implement your new hands-on learning classroom tools and make the most of your program!

Ready to learn more about our product training opportunities? Click here to explore all of your product training options.

Tradeshow Season is Almost Here!

By Andrea Phan, Tradeshow Coordinator

At Realityworks, our Account Managers and other team members attend nearly 100 tradeshows over the course of a year. So, what is tradeshow season? Of those 100 annual tradeshows nearly HALF occur during the summer, between June, July and August. In addition to our typical FCS and Career and Technical Education Conferences, we’re excited to be talking with you once again at Agriculture Teachers Education Conferences featuring our new interactive animal models and Health Science Education Conferences introducing our new hands-on nursing skills training.

Our Account Managers are passionate about our products, love sharing the newest educational tools and enjoy seeing you interact with our great hands-on learning aids in the booths. Based out of Eau Claire, WI, many of our products that you see at tradeshows are shipped cross-country and put on hundreds of miles before they return home.

Did you know that Realityworks…

  • has only 9 Account Managers traveling to the nearly 50 summer tradeshows? We also send employees from our home office to help support them.
  • has the Account Managers traveling to about 30 states in 10 weeks.
  • expects to meet over 46,000 conference attendees this summer.
  • supports national conferences and organizations such as AAFCS and HOSA.
  • will be giving approximately 40 presentations during this time, highlighting our experiential products and providing you with useful tips and tricks to help you in the classroom.

Watch your email for more information regarding conferences near you. For a complete list visit our website at https://www.realityworks.com/news-events/tradeshows.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Here at Realityworks, Teacher Appreciation is Different

“Appreciation,” as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, means recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. While this definition in words is clear as to what “appreciation” is, here at Realityworks, we define it slightly differently when we think of Teacher Appreciation. 

Over the past 25 years, our company has been connecting and partnering with educators around the world to gain an understanding of what is happening in their classrooms and how we can aid in the education process by creating interactive and hands-on learning tools. Through these connections and partnerships, we have gained brilliant ideas that have helped our company grow in the number of products and markets served – but what we have truly learned, outside of product ideas, is that teachers are the leaders of the next generations. Teachers are helping shape the ideas, goals and values of future generations of students. And for that, we appreciate you and we thank you. 

We surveyed Realityworks employees who have had the opportunity to work directly with teachers. We took their feedback and created a word cloud representing what stood out to each of us as we connected with educators. 

To us, Teacher Appreciation is listening to educators, engaging with them and learning from them. We are inspired each day by what educators do and for that, we thank you, educators!

10 Cool Tools CTE Educators Use to Engage Today’s Students

Today’s students are looking to learn classroom lessons in more unique ways than in the past. They crave information they can immediately connect to their future goals. They want to interact, experiment, learn from their mistakes, and practice.

At Realityworks, we develop products that enable CTE educators to do exactly that: give students hands-on learning opportunities that are relevant, authentic and highly engaging while teaching important career skills. We spoke with our customers to create a list of our 10 most popular training tools for Health Science, Family and Consumer Science, Agriculture and Welding classrooms.

10 Cool Tools CTE Educators Use to Engage Students are:

1. Blood Pressure Simulator

This tool, dubbed a finalist in the Ed Tech Cool Tools awards, is a one-of-a-kind training tool used to teach proper techniques for taking blood pressure.

2. guideWELD® VR welding simulator

Welding is one of the high-wage, high-demand careers we hear about in the workforce today. With this engaging and interactive simulator, students can learn basic techniques while exploring a potential career.  

3. Bovine Injection Simulator

Requested by ag instructors to teach fundamental skills for agriculture and vet tech students, this simulator gives students hands-on experience giving injections, applying ear tags and more, without leaving the classroom.

4. Geriatric Simulator

Key skills for all students entering healthcare careers include empathy and understanding of their patients. With this wearable tool, students can “walk in the shoes” of elderly patients and gain true insight into their aches, pains and other age-related challenges.

5. Child Care Center Design Kit

One of our newest products on the “cool tools” list, this interactive kit was created in partnership with a child care facility owner. It teaches students how to properly set up child care rooms for ideal learning environments.

6. Adult Nursing Manikin

Featuring over 20 basic care functions, this manikin is used in nursing and health occupations classrooms to give students realistic practice interacting with adult patients.

7. Electrical Wiring Kit

Safety is key in a classroom setting. With this kit, students to get hands-on wiring experience and quick assessments on job correctness while avoiding sparks and other electrical dangers.

8. Bovine Breeder™ artificial insemination simulator

This unique simulator has caught the attention of many ag education publications, as it enables students to learn and practice an in-demand skill right in the classroom.

9. RealCareer ™ Weld Defects Kit

Our most popular trade skills kit, this unique product teaches students what can go wrong during welding, how to identify improper welds and most importantly, how to fix these defects and prevent them from occurring on future welds.

10. RealCare™ Shaken Baby Simulator

While this product has been offered for several years, the lessons it teaches and the impacts it makes on students is incredible. We are proud that educators still consider our Shaken Baby Simulator a “cool tool,” as it provides unforgettable lessons on child abuse and prevention that can truly save lives.

Ready to learn more about these cool tools and others offered by Realityworks?

Visit our website or complete this form.

Blood Pressure Simulator by Realityworks, Inc., named EdTech Award 2019 Finalist

Nursing training tool recognized in national competition for its unique impact on healthcare education

We’re proud to announce that our one-of-a-kind Blood Pressure Simulator has been named an EdTech Award 2019 finalist. The US-based award program is the largest and most competitive recognition program in the education technology sector; it recognized our Blood Pressure Simulator for the unique ways the tool engages and assesses students as they learn how to take blood pressure before assisting real patients.

“We’re honored to have been named as an EdTech Award finalist for one of our internally developed products, “ said Timm Boettcher, Realityworks President & CEO. “Today’s Career and Technical Education instructors are working harder than ever to ensure their students graduate with skills they can use to succeed in high-demand fields such as nursing. Tools like our Blood Pressure Simulator offer realistic learning opportunities that allow students to explore careers and develop real-world knowledge.”

Taking a patient’s blood pressure is a common aspect of any doctor’s office visit, and a vital skill that all aspiring nurses and many other healthcare workers need. Our Blood Pressure Simulator differs from other blood pressure training tools by offering students more realistic opportunities to practice the proper techniques for taking blood pressure prior to actual clinical experience. Students can select from pre-programmed testing scenarios or use the simulator to generate random testing scenarios as they listen for blood pressure and Korotkoff phases on standardized patients or manikins. Instructors can use the simulator’s audio feature to listen and assess.

The EdTech Awards were established in 2010 to recognize the most exceptional innovators, leaders and trendsetters in education technology. This year’s finalists and winners were judged based on criteria including pedagogical workability, efficacy and results, support, clarity, value and potential. More information can be found at https://edtechdigest.com.

Our Blood Pressure Simulator is part of a line of health science training tools developed to engage today’s students in high-demand healthcare fields, train them on various nursing procedures and help them develop key soft skills. We continue to look for other product development opportunities in areas with a skills gap to engage today’s students in needed career fields.

For more information on Realityworks’ products and programs, visit realityworks.com.