Real-time Feedback Gives Welding Students an Edge | MillerWelds

Real-time Feedback Gives Welding Students an Edge

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Learn how River Valley High School provides an easier transition from classroom to welding lab with the help of technology.

Robust welding program gets stronger 

Carla Carmody, who has been teaching welding and welding fabrication courses at River Valley High School in Spring Green, Wisconsin, for the past 22 years, admits she was initially skeptical of the Miller® AugmentedArc® Augmented Reality Welding System

“The first time I tried it, I got up and walked away and thought, this is a toy…an expensive toy,” she explained. “I can’t see the benefits of having it.” 

But it wasn’t long before she turned into a believer. 

“We were lucky enough to receive a grant,” said Carmody. “And after I started setting it up, my eyes opened wide and I was like, this is such a unique teaching tool. It shows you everything in real time: what you’re doing wrong, what you’re doing right. I just think this is so valuable for the students to get this information as they are welding.” 

AugmentedArc is not meant to replace traditional welding — it’s meant to be a training tool so students can learn the basics before live arc welding. It provides immediate objective feedback so students can correct errors on their own. 

“I have students coming in, day after day, during study hall and just sitting and welding with the systems. Upper-level students are constantly going back and forth between the machine and the shop to perfect their techniques,” Carmody said. “Students love these machines.” 

An efficient and cost-effective option for schools and students


When you’re teaching a skill like welding, there’s nothing like hands-on experience. But it’s impossible for instructors to be with all students all of the time. 

“With these machines, the students are able to get feedback instantaneously,” Carmody said.

After using the machines, students are far more productive once they get into the shop. 

“I have introductory welding students who are getting the idea before they ever step foot into the shop. They are laying better beads as a first-time student, so they are not wasting any materials as they are learning the basics,” Carmody said. 

Attracting new students to welding

 

AugmentedArc has no heat and no actual sparks, making it ideal for students who may be hesitant to give welding a try. 

 

“We are able to attract students we may not have been able to otherwise,” Carmody said. “Students are really excited to get on the machine — some that may not have been interested are now interested because of it.”

 

While many other schools only offer one semester of welding, River Valley has a very robust welding program. It starts with a one-year welding course where students learn all types of welding, including oxy-fuel welding, oxy-fuel cutting, plasma cutting, shielded metal arc welding and gas metal arc welding. From there, they have an opportunity to take one of two dual-credit courses offered in collaboration with Madison College. Students at River Valley can also take advantage of a one- or two-year youth apprentice program that gives them invaluable experience learning firsthand. 

 

A skeptic turned believer

 

“I really want to thank our reps from Cesa 3, Chuck Keller and Tom Martin, who convinced me to give the AugmentedArc a try. They have been so helpful all these years,” Carmody said. “They made it possible for us to have equipment like this that I would have never dreamed of having. I also want to thank the school and administration for all the support throughout the years. And Miller for the amazing work they have done to support instructors, especially during COVID-19.”

 

“It’s hard for older instructors to try new things sometimes. But I’m completely sold. I think it’s a wonderful teaching tool,” Carmody said. “Any teacher who tries it is going to say the same thing.”

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