Skilled trades school opens new lab with virtual and actual welding stations
George Brown College has introduced an advanced approach to training apprentices in the industrial trades by unveiling its brand new smart welding lab.
The smart lab, located in Casa Loma’s D-building, has six virtual welding stations capable of sending its users to virtual reality work sites. Screens in the units’ welding mask will also provide feedback and other information to help train on welding techniques.
Denise Devlin-Li, the chair of the school of apprenticeship and skilled trades and a professional engineer, said that the virtual machines will provide a valuable training experience.
“I think it saves time on the actual machines because you get to practice with something that’s like a real electrode,” Devlin-Li said. “You wear a welding helmet and you can actually see how you’re working, so it’s digital.digital.”
The lab, which had a opening ceremony April 4, has 28 Lincoln Electric welding stations including an accessible station for people with special needs, and a machine with a camera for the instructor to demonstrate techniques on screens in the lab.
Devlin-Li said that the recording of faculty faculty’s technique is “pretty amazing,” and explained that after mastering the craft on the virtual technology, students can move on to the other machines in the new shop for the real feel.
“Its a very photogenic shop,” she added. “All red with all those new Lincoln arc welders, it’s really nice looking, and it’s really well laid out because they had a lot of time to think about it,” she said.
The new lab is intended for learners in the trades, including millwrights, plumbers and sheet metal, who all have welding components in their programs. The lab will also support a new welding techniques one-year program being implemented by the college in September.
Chris DeFazio, Lincoln Electric’s north central Ontario representative, was impressed at what the college had done to prepare its welding learners.
“George Brown did a tremendous job on thinking through all the elements that would be required to create a successful program that would initially draw students but then ultimately prepare them as true welders,” he said.
DeFazio explained that with the new lab, learners will be able to, “understand the process, the safety concerns, the techniques, troubleshooting and they can leave the program with a lot better knowledge and experience going into an industrial role.”
He also noted that with the selection of the Powerwave S350 and Square Wave TIG 200 machines, the college has picked machines “capable of doing some advanced big welding,” as well as TIG and Stick techniques.
The welding lab is a part of the centre for construction and engineering technologies, and was financially supported by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund.