Spring Webinar Schedule Announced

We’re excited to announce our spring webinar schedule!

Each fall and spring we offer a series of free webinars that revolve around the Career and Technical Education world. These sessions are presented by our product managers, product support team, and even some of our account managers get in on the fun.

If you see a webinar that you’re interested in, but can’t make the time or date, make sure to register for it anyways! We will send you a link to the recording along with any presentation materials once the webinar is complete.

Take a look at what we have planned for the spring so far:

Explore Welding Career Pathways with Hands-On Training Methods
Monday, January 21st @ Noon CST

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Meet the Realityworks Barnyard Animals
Thursday, February 7th @ 11 am CST

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Create an Interactive Health Science Program with Wearable Simulators
Tuesday, February 12th @ 11 am CST

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The Ins and Outs: Using Simulation to Teach Bovine Artificial Insemination
Thursday, February 21st @ 2 pm CST

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Cool Tools for Teaching Transferable Child Care Career Skills
Thursday, February 28th @ 3 pm CST

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Enhance Agriculture Student Learning through Bovine Simulators
Tuesday, March 12th @ 11 am CST

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The Art of Scenarios: Using Real-World Scenarios to Teach Employability Skills
Wednesday, April 10th @ Noon CST

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Packing up RealCare Baby for Summer Vacation
Tuesday, April 23rd @ 3 pm CST

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Learn more today by checking out our webinar page, and while you’re there make sure to check out the archived sessions we have available to you as well!

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:

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.

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 factor that goes 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 the 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. 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.

Safe, Spark-Free Welding Training

Over 50 percent of U.S. products require welding, including race cars, bridges, ships, computers, medical devices, farm equipment, gas pipelines, skyscrapers, automobiles, train tracks, airplanes and scooters.

Welding Training

Welding training programs are effective in many settings. One of the places these programs can be successful is correctional facilities.

Studies have shown that inmates who take part in education programs have a 43% lower recidivism rate than those who don’t.

What’s more, every dollar spent on funding prison education programs can drastically reduce incarceration costs in the first three years post-release.

Here are two more statistics for you: The U.S. will need 400,000 welders by 2025. Right now, 81% of manufacturers cannot find enough skilled workers.

Safe & Effective

The guideWELD® VR welding simulator is a safe, effective way to teach students and inmates alike valuable welding skills they can use to get a job in the manufacturing field.

Sparks are not generated. Internet is not required. All you need is a computer and a power source.

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See the guideWELD VR welding simulator in action.

For a limited time, you can SAVE $1,000 on the guideWELD VR welding simulator and guideWELD LIVE real welding guidance system. Click here to learn more.

Welding Pays Off: The Importance of “Upskilling” in Today’s Welding Education Programs

By Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

Every April, educators, students and business leaders come together to bring awareness to and speak about the value of welding. National Welding Month is an annual celebration and recognition of welding’s impact on our world and the important role it plays in our everyday lives. Now is the perfect time to consider just how important it is that our welding students have the skills they need to succeed.

The demand for skilled welders is growing. The American Welding Society predicts a need of almost 200,000 welders in the United States by 2020, while the Manufacturing Institute has stated that in the next decade alone, there will be a need for nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs.

To ensure the welding industry is prepared to meet this demand, today’s welding educators and instructors must make certain that their programs and training methods are equipping today’s young people with the skills employers are looking for. And, in a workforce that will increasingly require those who are agile, adaptable and highly qualified, “upskilling” students above and beyond the fundamentals of welding will only make them more employable in a competitive, high-demand industry.

Skills pay off

With an oversupply of entry-level welders and a growing number of skilled welders ready to retire, welding and manufacturing companies are paying more and more attention to welding codes and qualification standards. This means welders who are certified, or who are able to examine and test their own welds, are more attractive than ever before – and their pay reflects that attraction. According to the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International’s “2013 Salary/Wage & Benefit Survey,” a welder who is certified to AWS, ASME and other codes has the broadest salary range of any shop floor position, up to $83,000 for a base salary, not including overtime and bonuses.

While having basic welding skills can certainly pay off, other skill sets can also pay large dividends. Figure 1 depicts the many paths one can take when considering a welding-related career. For instance, the chart shows the average pay for a welding supervisor and a manufacturing production supervisor. With reported average pay ranges around $12,000 higher than an average welder, these highly skilled positions are rewarded with higher pay.

When speaking with various workforce development boards and companies within the welding industry, it’s not uncommon to hear welding and manufacturing industry representatives say that they routinely pay more per hour for employees who can visually inspect welds and supervise others in the creation of quality welds over those who could simply create the quality welds.

Barring geography, experience, skill level and employer, the message is clear: By focusing on basic skill development and the development of additional career-specific skills such as weld testing and qualification, educators and trainers are opening the doors to higher pay, more benefits and in the long run, more successful careers.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of “Welding Productivity.” Click here to view the article in its entirety.

Instructor Uses In-Helmet Guides to Boost Student Confidence During Live Welding

by Emily Kuhn

For Hutchinson Community College Welding Technology Instructor Greg Siepert, Realityworks’ guideWELD™ LIVE real welding guidance system is a portable, easy-to-use way to rid seasoned welders of bad habits and boost the confidence of first-time welders.

“We struggle with confidence a lot,” said Siepert, who teaches the first year of this Kansas vocational school’s two-year welding program. “When students are in the booth, I can’t tell them in the middle of a weld that they’re right where they need to be, but when they don’t know, even if it looks right, they aren’t confident in their ability. This system gives them real-time feedback on what they’re doing and if it is right or wrong, and it builds their confidence.”

That real-time feedback is provided inside the welding helmet on work angle, travel angle and arc speed during live, arc-on welding. It occurs in the user’s periphery vision, similar to the manner in which video games communicate information to players on-screen or cars communicate speed and mileage to drivers from the instrument panel. With the guideWELD LIVE helmet in place, users see real-time guides on the right and left sides of their vision, and can focus on those guides or their weld as needed during a weld.

The guideWELD LIVE system, which works with almost any MIG welding machine, consists of a welding helmet, speed sensor board and hand sensor. Once the user has calibrated his or her welding gun, he or she can turn on all three indicators simultaneously or focus on only one or two at a time.

“The big application for this system is for those who are struggling with those basics,” said Siepert. “You can give this to them, show them the indicators and watch them make the change.”

According to Siepert, a lack of confidence is a common problem among his first-year welding students. He shared the story of one student who had the skills down but “didn’t feel right about his welds.”

“I had him work with it for 30 minutes,” Siepert recalled, “and he came back and said he got it – and his welds had vastly improved. So did his confidence.”

Although Siepert teaches a beginning welding program, his classes often include students with a range of backgrounds and experiences. In addition to reinforcing basic welding technique and positioning, Siepert also found the guideWELD LIVE system to be a useful supplement for retraining.

“This system is good for students who come out of industry or another program or from being taught at home and had bad habits,” said Siepert. “Habits are hard to break, and this would help – they would know exactly what to correct in real time.”
Being able to easily introduce the system to students of different technical abilities was key, according to Siepert, who started using it with a class of varying abilities. Some students had never welded before, some had some education and one was a displaced worker with no formal education but years of experience.

“The setup is phenomenal because it’s quick and fast,” said Siepert. “I could pick the system up and move it to a booth, and it didn’t involve any modification of what I did. All I had to do was show the student how to use it.”

As Siepert pointed out, however, being able to successfully introduce the system to a new student goes beyond just getting them started. For those who have never seen this kind of technology in a welding shop before, successful implementation can mean establishing an understanding of why this type of tool works – and that it is OK to use.

“As welding education improves and technology improves along with it, and we slowly start moving away from how it’s been done for years, there’s still a consensus that if there are supporting teaching aids used, it’s a walk of shame,” said Siepert. “We’re trying to fight that… this system adds another level to their education.”

The guideWELD LIVE system includes curriculum, which features units on safety, welding defects and welding procedure specifications. Presentation slides, teacher guides, worksheets and tests are provided as well.

“Any time you can take away frustration and build confidence, you gain retention,” said Siepert. “This system is a stepping stone from the virtual world to the real world.”

Announcing Free Welding Career Exploration Curriculum

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager and curriculum specialist

Welding is widely used in many areas, including construction, manufacturing and other industries. A background in welding can also lead to opportunities in education and management. Unfortunately, the gap between the skills job-seekers have and the skills employers need is continuously widening; the American Welding Society estimates that by 2020, there will be a shortage of 290,000 welding professionals.

We want to do our part to prepare today’s students with job-specific technical skills and provide them with essential opportunities to learn more about these needed careers. That’s why we created our RealCareer Welding Career Exploration curriculum, which takes a closer look at the variety of welding career opportunities available today.

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Our RealCareer Welding Career Exploration curriculum contains six lessons that examine the variety of welding careers available today.

In this free, six-lesson curriculum, students participate in a series of activities, research projects and more. Each lesson includes specific step-by-step instructions, measurable objectives, and materials lists. The curriculum aligns to the Common Career Technical Core standards.

Lessons topics include:

  1. Careers in Manufacturing and Production Welding
  2. Career Opportunities in Welding Fabrication.
  3. A Day in the Life of a Welding Engineer.
  4. Exploring a Career in Welding Quality Assurance or as a Certified Welding Inspector
  5. Looking Into a Career as a Pipe Welder.
  6. Exploration of Other Welding-Related Careers.

To access our RealCareer Welding Career Exploration curriculum, click here.

Looking for more career exploration resources for career & technical education programs? Consider the additional curricula we offer:

  • RealCareer Employability Skills curriculum. This free curriculum was created to help students in any program learn the important soft skills needed to prepare for a careers. It features six lessons, which can be used as a standalone unit or as a supplement to an existing career exploration program.

How do you plan to implement this career exploration curriculum in your welding program? Share your ideas in the comments below!