5 Takeaways from “Why VR Works: A Panel Discussion”

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.

3 Lessons We’ve Learned from Helping Instructors Implement Virtual Reality Welding Simulators

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:

Competition works.

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.”

High school welding student Rodian Manjarres using guideWELD® VR welding simulator while practicing for her National SkillsUSA competition.

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.

An Iowa welding student uses the guideWELD VR welding simulator.

“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.

The CVTC Mobile Manufacturing Lab offers students the opportunity to receive hands-on, real-life training in manufacturing careers using tools like the guideWELD VR welding simulator.

“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 welding simulator?

  • Get implementation tools and use ideas here.
  • Find out how you can save on guideWELD VR here.
  • Watch our free webinar, “Explore Welding Career Pathways with Hands-On Training Methods” here

Realityworks Recognizes Arizona Welding Instructor with CTE Champion Award

We’re so excited to announce the recipient of our CTE Champion Award, Marana High School Welding Instructor Kenton Webb. Product manager Jamey McIntosh presented the award to Webb at the Association for Career & Technical Education’s CareerTech VISION 2018 Conference in San Antonio, Texas on November 30. The award recognizes the remarkable methods Webb has implemented to engage his welding students in viable career opportunities and help them develop in-demand job skills. Those methods include using the guideWELD® VR welding simulator and guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system.

“My ultimate goal is to help these kids get a successful career so they’re not walking away from high school with just a diploma – they’re walking away with a skill they can use,” said Webb. “I’m humbled by this award. It’s nice to get recognized for the work you put in.

About 250 students participate in Marana High School’s welding program annually, an increase of almost 200 students from when Webb began the program 10 years ago. In the last nine years, the program has come to be one of the premier high school welding shops in the state. First-year students use the guideWELD VR welding simulator to hone basic welding skills in a safe, virtual environment, then use the guideWELD LIVE real welding guidance system in the welding booth to understand proper welding techniques and master bad habits. Webb also challenges his students to identify and assess their own welds using the RealCareer™ Weld Defects Kit.

“What I saw and heard when I visited Kenton’s classroom made his passion for educating clear,” said McIntosh. “He 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.”

Realityworks’ CTE Champion award is awarded to educators in programs related to Welding & Trade Skills, Family & Consumer Sciences, Agriculture and Health Science. Learn more about Realityworks by visiting www.realityworks.com.

Welding Implementation in the 21st Century

Skilled welders are more in demand than ever before. The American Welding Society estimates that by 2020 – just two years away – there will be a shortage of 290,000 professionals, including inspectors, engineers, welders and teachers.

For welding instructors and trainers, launching a new welding program, or reinventing a current one, can seem like a daunting task. There are a lot of questions to ask including what equipment will help students the most, and what curriculum is out there to help you get started.

We’ve used feedback from welding instructors across the country to develop the Welding Solutions Implementation Guide, which will help you to walk through all of these questions and more.

The four key areas that have been identified as key to the 21st Century Welding Classroom are:

1. Welding Simulation Lab

  • Explore careers, foundational learning, provide more arc time
  • A safe, cost-effective way to teach welding fundamentals

2. Live Welding Booths

  • Corrective guides, immediate feedback, classroom management
  • A one-of-a-kind solution for guidance inside the welding helmet during live welding

3. Visual Weld Inspection

  • Assessment and correction techniques, quality inspection
  • An instructional aid to teach weld defects and discontinuities

4. Destructive Weld Testing

  • Prepare for careers, self-assessment
  • Challenge students to test their own welds and determine what went wrong

By combining these four areas into a welding program, you can help set your students up for success. Click here for more information and to see the complete guide.

6 Quick Facts About the guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system

1. guideWELD® LIVE is NOT a simulator:

  • It is an actual welding helmet used while live welding and can be used in any welding booth
  • Trains how to consistently have proper work angle, travel angle, and correct welding speed while performing a live weld

2. Auto-darkening helmet, hand sensor & speed sensor work together to give feedback on proper welding technique
3. Improves welding technique development and increases welder confidence
4. Real-time corrective feedback in every welding booth for MIG & STICK
5. Feedback comes from 9 default WPS’s with customization available
6. Provides guidance on the proper welding technique of:

  • Speed
  • Work Angle
  • Travel Angle

For more information on the guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system check out the recording from our recent webinar:

Tradeshow Season is Right Around the Corner!

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 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 travelling 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!

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.

 

A Formula for Skills-Based Welding Training

The Need for Welders

As National Welding Month commences, we are reminded of welding’s impact on our world – and the efforts that welding and manufacturing instructors across the country put forth to ensure that today’s students have the skills and abilities they need to succeed in this in-demand profession. According to several industry estimates, the welder deficit is set to eclipse 200,000 by 2020, and hit nearly 375,000 by 2026. Today, welders are retiring at 2x the pace of welders who are coming into the job field. More schools are integrating career and technical education pathways into their offerings, including welding training. With these programs gaining strength there can be challenges to overcome.

Challenges of the Instructor include:

  • Creating individualized learning opportunities
  • Managing the classroom and students effectively
  • Keeping safety a priority
  • Keeping aligned to standards and educational best practices

Along with these challenges, instructors are also trying to keep a new generation of learners engaged and interested in welding and manufacturing programs. We developed tools like the guideWELD® VR welding simulator and guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system to help instructors engage today’s 21st Century students in these types of career pathways. Below, we take a closer look at the thought process behind this training tool development.

Formula for Skill-Focused Engagement

Let’s look at this kind of engagement as a formula.

First, we take Skill Development and use it to develop curiosity:

  • Create tangible ways to develop understanding of concepts
  • Practice and learn key systems and technique development

Next, we utilize competition to develop Skill Refinement:

  • Enhance skill through rigorous assessment and experiences
  • Gain best practices and industry standard learning

By giving students choices, they can continue to Enhance their Skills:

  • Personalize and individualize learning
  • Modify to individual strengths and talents

Lastly, we develop a deep connection through Skill Sharing with their peers:

  • Strong peer-to-peer communication and career exploration
  • Learn from sharing best practices and innovative findings

By following this formula, we can develop an engaging program for all students who are working their way through welding pathways. What’s more, training tools like the guideWELD® VR welding simulator and guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system can help ensure that students are given opportunities to develop, refine, enhance and share their skills in an efficient, effective way.

The American Welding Society (AWS) has stated that National Welding Month is an important opportunity to highlight an industry where trade skills are in dire need. Are you wondering how you can help celebrate? AWS has put together some great information on what National Welding Month is all about and how you can help spread the word.  For more great resources on engaging students in welding programs, as well as resources for developing and implementing the programs themselves, check out our welding webinars here.

2018 Catalogs Are Here!

It’s here — our 2018 Catalogs are ready to be shared! They are full of details on all the learning aids and resources we offer for teaching family and consumer sciences, health sciences, agriculture, trade skills, and more.

There are also several new items in our 2018 FACS catalog, including:

We offer a variety of exciting tools (and curriculum!) you can use to engage your students and help them develop skills in human services, and education and training.

Realityworks is continuing to develop new tools you can use to engage your students and help them develop clinical nursing skills and soft, patient-focused skills. New in our 2018 Health Science catalog:

Our 2018 Agriculture catalog features tools you can use to engage your students and help them develop skills in animal and vet science, plant science, manufacturing and more. Newly featured this year are:

This year our 2018 Trade Skills catalog includes many great tools to develop skills in welding, electrical wiring, manufacturing and more.

  • Pathway packages to jump-start your welding, electrical or advanced manufacturing courses
  • Portable workstations to keep classrooms organized and provide more workspace
  • New webinars and other opportunities for professional development

We offer a variety of exciting tools (and curriculum!) you can use to engage your students and help them develop their skills. Take time to check out these great products, get a quote, or place an order online today!

Reflecting on Tradeshow Season 2017

Our account managers had a great time attending over 100 conferences, conventions and symposiums across the country throughout 2017. We asked them which shows stood out to them the most, and here’s what they had to say. Were you at one of these shows? Keep reading to find out!

Sarah Philen, Account Manager for ID, MI, MT, NM, WA and WY

“My favorite show this past year was in Austin, TX. Eric, Kelly and I gave a presentation on the Geriatric Simulator and the group was fantastic. We even had a volunteer who wore the suit and was such a good sport! I could feel how passionate the group was about Gerontology and they gave excellent feedback. Being involved with passionate educators is one of the best parts of my job.”

Kelly Greig, Account Manager for AL, LA, MS, TX and WI

“The one that really stands out to me was ACTA in Alabama. I met some amazing teachers and administrators and everyone was extremely welcoming to me. Most of the other vendors and participants knew each other well, but instead of feeling like an outsider, they introduced themselves to me, invited me to do things with them and just really went out of their way to make me feel at home. The event itself was well-organized and FUN. All in all, it was fantastic!”

Anne Bogstad, Account Manager for AK, CA, HI, NV, OR and UT

“I can’t pick just one! Each has its own uniqueness from the people and their goals to the venue itself.  I’ve been set up inside a barn with plywood dividers, beautiful banquet halls, event spaces so large you get lost and quaint spaces – like the one with a grizzly bear 10 feet from me (stuffed of course). In CA, my agriculture educators were challenged with the drought, many had to sell their livestock because they couldn’t feed them due to lack of water/crops. In remote Alaska, students get opportunities like riding with the Fish and Game to tag caribou as they migrate south, learning snow machine safety in schools and welding for the pipeline. I have the privilege of meeting teachers face to face and hearing how their students’ lives are changed, the new technology in the classrooms and new approaches they are taking as educators.”

Amy Underwood, Account Manager for CT, DE, KY, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, RI,  PA, TN and VT

“We were invited to present on our family of products with focus on guideWELD RealCareer Welding Solutionsat the2017 Institute for CTE Educators. The conference participants were so excited to see the new products. We even had a kindergarten student stop by with her father who is an Agriculture Teacher at a Tennessee high school. They were both impressed with the Chicken Model and the kindergartner took apart the chicken and put it back together all by herself. She even shared that they have Easter Egg laying chickens on their farm—some lay blue eggs and others lay yellow eggs. Her father then explained the process of bleaching eggs that go to market and how long eggs can last if they are not washed immediately. It was a great lesson for me as I continue increasing my knowledge of agriculture.”

“Deana Ramsey, Principal at the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Center School in Philadelphia, invited me to co-present on the guideWELD RealCareer Welding Solutions and Employability Skills Program at the N&D Symposium at Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. The educators had a chance to try out the virtual welding unit while they discussed how virtual welding could be implemented within their “career exploration and career ready” programming. The educators had a wonderful time exploring how the assessment of each weld was done and the safety aspects of this virtual welding unit.”

Seth Short, Account Manager for FL, GA, IN and OH

“My favorite show of 2017 was the National FFA Convention. It was a great place to see the interaction of teacher and student, to get to know and understand agriculture and what their needs are. We had a student (Junior in High School) explaining one of our future products to his teacher and class. He was using our Bovine Breeder Prototype and explaining the AI process. It was amazing to see someone so young explain something so complex. Seeing students and teachers coming together from across the nation was an incredible experience. They were teaching us more than we could ever dream of sharing with them.”

While these are only a few examples of the many from the past year, we appreciate every opportunity we have to talk to and learn from the many students, educators and administrators we meet every year. From all of us at Realityworks, thank you for sharing these moments with us. We look forward to continuing these discussions and experiences in 2018 and beyond.