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