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
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
We recently hosted a panel discussion about why virtual reality welding works for today’s CTE students. Featuring Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks Support Specialist and guideWELD® trainer Chris Potapenko and Arizona welding instructor Kenton Webb, the webinar featured candid conversations about how instructors across the country are implementing this technology into their programs and using it to engage students, foster skill development, boost confidence and save money.
Below are excerpts from the live presentation (watch the complete recording here).
1. It’s a great tool to use with beginning classes
“I’ve found it best to start off with my beginning level classes where a lot of those kids have never welded before so they don’t know the difference in between live and virtual. It’s definitely helped them as they’ve started off with something harder and then when they get out into the shop it’s a lot easier for them when it comes to the live application of it. It also helps them build their confidence. Sometimes welding equipment is terrifying to kids and they’re scared of the sparks and the heat and the fire.” – Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ
“It’s a great tool and utility to bring in new students to get them started with the basics of welding. It eliminates some of the fear factors that go into getting them out on the real machine where they’re dealing with the heat, the sparks, the fumes. It’s a great resource to have in that safe classroom environment, it’s going to teach them all of the core functions of welding and give them that immediate feedback as well that they’re looking for.” – Chris Potapenko, Realityworks Support Specialist and certified guideWELD® trainer
2. The guideWELD® VR welding simulator by Realityworks comes with WPS’s (Welding Procedure Specifications) and the ability to make your own WPS’s, to gear it towards your own curriculum.
“I’ve created 9 separate WPS’s that the students have to go through and hit at an 80% or higher before they can move on to the next WPS,” said Webb. “Once they’ve finished and hit that mark in the classroom then I also have the guideWELD Live and they go out and use those with the actual hands-on weld.” – Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ
“Being able to create your own welds that your community might be doing. We have schools that say, ‘just down the road we have welding jobs open, I want my students to be able to get those welding jobs, and I want my students to be able to practice those kinds of welds.’ They can put into guideWELD VR the exact parameters that they need to do. It ties in that career interest.” – Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager
3. Virtual welding can improve learning for students
“Because they do get immediate feedback and they can actually see what they’re doing wrong immediately as they’re going through the weld that definitely helps them. Even with my special education students, it gives them more feedback that they need and gets them more comfortable using it before they go out and use the real thing. It covers your basic work angles, travel angles, distance and all of that so when I’m using that terminology out in the shop it’s not going over their head because they’ve been introduced to it.” – Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ
4. Virtual welding can save your program money, and guideWELD VR will help prove how much you are saving
“I was able to go and figure out, ok this is what I would pay for the steel, if I was doing these joints this is what it would cost per joint. So, I was able to see, each class by the time they were done with the 9 modules, and it counts every attempt that they do whether they pass it or fail it, so there were some of my classes that if they were out in the shop they would have burned through $800 worth of material and that’s not even including the gas and wire, nozzles and tips that they would have burned through learning how to do it on the live thing. It definitely helps educators justify the cost for it, in terms of down the road this is saving us money and for some of those programs that don’t have funding for unlimited metals and stuff like that it gives them a little more time to start them off in the class but then still not worry about running through all of their material before the end of the year.” – Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ
5. Students love the gaming aspect of virtual welding
“With kids being more tech savvy and gamer savvy, they really do enjoy doing it because they are coming to school to play a game so you are getting a little bit more buy in and interest as well. Another thing I noticed is some of them will turn it into a competition where they see one kid get a 95 then the other kids are ‘oh I can do better’ and they are going back for more and trying to beat each other with a little competition.” – Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ
These responses were extracted from our webinar, “Why VR Works: A Panel Discussion,” which can be found here or viewed below. This discussion was facilitated by Kenton Webb, welding instructor from Marana High School, Tucsun, AZ; Jamey McIntosh, product manager for Realityworks; and Chris Potapenko, technology support specialist for Realityworks.
By Emily Kuhn, Realityworks Communications Specialist
We created the guideWELD® VR welding simulator to give instructors an inexpensive yet effective way to engage students in welding career exploration and train them on the fundamentals of welding. We know demand for skilled welders is growing, and tools like these help students develop the basic skills they need to succeed in related careers. Five years later, we’ve visited welding classrooms and shops from Arizona to Alaska, helping CTE instructors implement virtual reality welding simulators in their programs. Along the way, we’ve learned a few key lessons:
Students and instructors alike have shared the fun they’ve had trying to beat their peer’s scores on the guideWELD VR welding simulators, which assess users on their work angle, travel angle, speed, nozzle-to-plate distance and straightness, then provide a cumulative score.
Rodian Manjarres was a high school welding student at J. Harley Bonds Career Center in Greer, SC when we caught up with her at a National SkillsUSA competition. She told us of her own guideWELD VR use, “We were all trying to beat each other’s scores and kept taking more turns. Everyone was really excited about it.”
In fact, the simulators’ competitive aspect was a particular benefit to this female welder.
“I liked it a lot because I could beat the guys at it,” said Manjarres. “There are only a few of us that can get the gun to turn gold.”
Instructors have found that competition encourages students to continue enhancing their form and technique and build muscle memory. And the more students use this training tool, the more developed their welding technique becomes.
“Cool tools” can impact fundraising efforts.
We’ve spoken to several ingenious instructors who bring their guideWELD VR units to open houses and other community events. The simulators grab attendees’ attention, helps them understand what students are learning and help generate support for their classrooms.
Dan Leinen uses the simulators in his agriculture classes at Harlan Community High School in Harlan, IA. He told us of one event where letting a community member try the simulator directly impact that individual’s willingness to donate to his ag program.
“This particular company owner had an FFA background but had never welded,” said Leinen. “He sat down and tried the simulator and almost instantly committed to donating funds.”
guideWELD VR is portable, and its virtual nature means there is no gas, ventilation or sparks to worry about. By showing the community what you’re doing in your classroom, they see what they could be supporting.
Technology is attractive.
Recruitment might be one of the most common ways we hear guideWELD VR being used. The tool’s video game-like environment appeals to today’s technology-driven students, and the lack of sparks calms common welding fears. And in regions where students aren’t coming from farms or other environments where welding is the norm, instructors enjoy having a safe way to introduce the skill to new users.
John Paulus uses the simulators in the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab. The lab travels to various locations across Western Wisconsin to provide middle- and high-school students with manufacturing career exploration opportunities.
“A lot of these kids have never touched a welder or turned a lathe in their life,” said Paulus. “We’re trying to get these kids excited about getting skilled and getting into manufacturing careers. This equipment is enhancing our ability to do that.”
Ready to learn more about the guideWELD VR
By Janelle Krause, Realityworks PR & Events Specialist
With a school motto of “Bridging academics and technology,” it’s no surprise that instructors at the J. Harley Bonds Career Center in Greer, SC enjoy using advanced technology to teach students the skills they need to pursue an associate degree, a four-year degree or a career following graduation. By combining academics and advanced technology, this technical school enables students to pursue career interests like animation, culinary arts, machine tooling and welding while they earn high school credit.
Realityworks offers both a virtual reality welding simulator and a live welding guidance system for welding education and training.
One piece of technology that has been particularly successful at the career center is the guideWELD® VR welding simulator by Realityworks. Since December 2014, center instructors have been using this tool to teach welding students basic techniques while emphasizing safety and saving money on the consumables that are needed for live welding.
Success during first use Rodian Manjarres is a second-year student with a lot of experience using guideWELD® VR. Her first experience with the welding simulator occurred after her welding instructors, Todd Varholy and Eddie Squires, encouraged her to use it to prepare for her Action Skills competition at that year’s SkillsUSA National Skills & Leadership Conference. Because the welding simulator provides users with real-time feedback on basic welding form and positioning in a virtual environment, both instructors felt that it would allow competition judges to understand Rodian’s welding skills more easily than if Rodian just explained how she welded.
South Carolina welding student Rodian Manjarres used the guideWELD® VR welding simulator during the South Carolina SkillsUSA competition earlier this year.
Learn how Rodian trained on the welding simulator and eventually honed her skills enough to beat most of her classmates – and keep an eye on her angle while conducting live welding – by downloading the complete customer testimonial.
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