Before welding students at Beaufort County Community College enter the welding laboratory and begin working with actual materials, they can now hone their skills using a new virtual welder.
The virtual welder duplicates the welding processes used by students in BCCC's welding classroom just as a flight simulator duplicates the processes used by an airline pilot.
Using a virtual welder, an instructor can simulate the steps used in a welding project while students monitor the work on a video screen. When a student uses the virtual welder, their instructor can follow that work on the same video screen and evaluate the completed project by use of a digital display that evaluates a student's speed and accuracy.
BCCC Lead Welding Instructor Ted Clayton uses the new virtual welding machine to demonstrate how the machine simulates actual welding.
"They are so close to reality, it makes the hair on my arms stand up," said Lead Welding Instructor Ted Clayton. "I am delighted to have this machine available for my students."
Clayton began using a virtual welder in summer term classes this week.
The $55,000 Lincoln electric VRTEX® 360 virtual welding machine is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Providing this new technology to industrial students is one of the activities targeted by the department's $18 million Employment and Training Administration's Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant awarded to a consortium of 10 community colleges in the state, including BCCC.
"By incorporating virtual reality welding into traditional welding training programs, students learn more quickly," Clayton said.
Virtual welding machines can also help colleges recruit students to their welding programs by giving those potential students the chance to try welding in a way that is fun, exciting and engaging without endangering someone who is unfamiliar with the welding process, he said.
And by using virtual welding in part of the training, BCCC can save money on base materials, welding electrodes and other supplies and consumables, according to Clayton.
BCCC's new virtual welding machine will be on display during a campus-wide open house scheduled for later this year.
BCCC Lead Welding Instructor Ted Clayton uses information obtained by the virtual welding machine to evaluate the speed and accuracy of a student's virtual project.
For more information about BCCC's Welding Technology Program, contact Daniel Wilson, director of Admissions and Recruitment, at 252-940-6233. Information is also available on the BCCC website at www.beaufortccc.edu
Beaufort County Community College is a public comprehensive community college committed to accessible and affordable quality education, effective teaching, relevant training, and lifelong learning opportunities for the people served by the College.