Southern Maine Community College opens virtual welding lab


Southern Maine Community College has opened a new virtual welding lab that allows students to perform welding exercises on welding simulators while learning valuable skills to advance or launch their careers.

The Simulation Lab, located on the college’s Midcoast campus in Brunswick, allows students to practice their welding skills virtually on one of 10 welding simulation machines that can enhance their learning experience while saving money. material costs. It is the first of its kind in the Maine Community College System.

A student uses one of the welding simulators at Southern Maine Community College’s new Virtual Welding Lab. Courtesy photo

“These machines take away the mystery of student performance because their work is measured and they can see the results on a big screen right in front of them,” said Jim Whitten, dean of workforce development at CMCC, in a press release from November 10. Release. “The simulators provide immediate feedback, allowing instructors to help students with their weld angle, arc length, speed and other elements in a good weld. “

Southern Maine Community College offers welding courses as part of its workforce training programs, primarily in partnership with companies in need of skilled employees. The college also offers welding courses in its professional skills programs and for academic credits.

Virtual Welding Lab welding simulators are known as VRTEX 360+ Virtual Reality Welding Simulators, manufactured by Lincoln Electric.

When using the machines, students wear virtual reality headsets that create a storyline with realistic welding sounds, molten metal, sparks, and grinding as they perform welding maneuvers. When students have completed a welding exercise, the machines assess their welding technique while recording the amount of material they use for each weld. Welding exercises can also be replayed so that students and instructors can identify what went well and what did not.

According to the press release, the machines save costs because students don’t waste raw materials when they learn to weld for the first time.

Welding instructor Penni Barbeau demonstrates on a welding simulator. Courtesy photo

Jared Ambs of Brunswick first used the machines this week as a student in SMCC’s Manufacturing Technician Training Program, offered in partnership with General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.

According to the email, Ambs “was impressed to be able to learn more about the different types of welds, weld angles, speeds and other welding elements on the machines.”

Ambs scored low in his first virtual exercise, but quickly increased his scores in the 80s and 90s (on a scale of 0 to 100).

“I’ve never welded before so it was good to get a feel for what I’m going to do and how the welding works,” Ambs wrote. “It’s a pretty neat system.”

Southern Maine Community College welding instructor John Gallagher said students use what they have learned about virtual machines and apply it when using real welding machines in the SMCC welding lab . Students, he said, are motivated to learn about virtual machines.

“They love it,” Gallagher said in the email. “It’s designed to work like a video game, and the younger generation understands video games. I don’t think it gets any better than that.

The machines were paid for with a grant of $ 296,000 from the Maine Community College System.

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