On March 21, I got the chance to try my hand at welding through the virtual reality lens of a Lincoln Electric VRTEX 360 Welder simulator. I was inside the confines of the American Welding Society’s 53-ft Careers in Welding Trailer, which was parked outside of Lincoln Electric’s brand-new Welding Technology & Training Center in Euclid, Ohio.
A contingent of North American Oil & Gas Pipelines VIPs had driven up from our offices in Brecksville, Ohio, for the company’s grand opening event for the new facility. After a tour of the building and a sit-down with CEO Chris Mapes and education business manager Jason Scales, we stepped up into the AWS trailer to get a hands-on look at Lincoln Electric’s nifty virtual reality welding machines.
The AWS Careers in Welding Trailer houses five VRTEX 360 machines. The society travels all across the country, visiting trade shows and fairgrounds to introduce welding to the masses. Especially younger recruits. The virtual reality welders provide a video game-like atmosphere that also offers a lifelike opportunity to experience the challenge of a real-world career.
I slid on the welding helmet and adjusted the viewing goggles. I pulled the trigger on the welding gun and the goggles transformed the trailer into a welding shop. I guided the arc along the T-joint and watched the bead form.
When I reached the end, I released the trigger and extinguished the arc. I lifted up my helmet and was transported back inside the trailer. My score was now up on the screen. I received a perfect score for my travel speed, but my angle of attack could’ve have been better. At the push of a button, the screen reset and the welding coupon returned to start. Time for the next player.
Lincoln Electric uses the VRTEX 360 machines in its new Welding Technology & Training Center to teach students. The AWS uses them in the Careers in Welding Trailer to attract new recruits. It’s easy to see how younger people would be excited to try these simulators. Employing technology is a great tool that other sectors of the oil and gas pipeline industry should consider when recruiting new hires. It’s fun and engaging, while offering hands-on experience with zero risk.
Check out the schedule for the AWS Careers in Welding Trailer at aws.org/foundation/page/careers-in-welding-trailer.