Schools Training

Virtual Welding in Auto Mechanic Training

19 DEC 2012
Career Path : Automotive

Welding is dangerous and expensive. As well as taking costly fuel and working with expensive material, welders who use regular equipment incorrectly can do permanent or temporary vision damage or risk serious burns. However everyone looking to become a mechanic is helped by knowing how to weld and new advances in computer simulations let students get an ever increasingly realistic taste of wielding the torch through virtual reality.


Though it might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, virtual welders use sensory technology and three dimensional graphics to measure the motion and location of a user’s torch, and provide visual and sometimes even auditory feedback. Students don a special mask that looks just like the real version, but rather than protective eye shielding, these masks contain a visual display system that provides a unique view for each eye, rather than a single, panning image, showing exactly the sort of things real welders would see. With a replica torch in hand, rather than a joystick or other less accurate control system, the student can move and operate their torch just like a real one, with one crucial difference: no heat or fumes. With modern machines, students undergoing auto mechanic training can learn all standard joints and bends they’d learn in any good welding curriculum.


Because of their relatively perfect simulation, virtual welders also teach students the kinetic, visual special and muscle memory aspect essential in any sort of hands-on skill, not something that even the best classroom instruction or textbook can provide, regardless of how committed a student is in their quest to become a mechanic. Though virtual reality technology is relatively old, until recently, high price points and clunky input systems made this beyond practicality for common use, but, as prices drop, these machines take advantage of decades of military and space agency driven research, but also the advances in gaming technology.


The game like appearance also makes these tools easy to start with for a more nervous novice. This makes them great recruiting tools for a mechanic school, letting them not only showcase that they’re on the cutting edge of training technology, but also allowing prospective students try out what the job is like. This is especially important in attracting younger workers to the trade because today’s technologically minded youth are less attarcted to traditional vocational careers. The system will also record student accuracy, giving them a performance score, good for grading in a mechanic school, but also encouraging students to compete with each other to improve their abilities, taking advantage of the interests of a generation that grew up taking computers and game consoles for granted.


Of course virtual welders are not a perfect substitution for the real thing, but the feedback system, safety and scoring also let instructor determine when a student can be safely cleared to move over to real welding. Money is saved, accidents are avoided and students have fun with their auto mechanic training.



Visit the Canadian Automotive and Trucking Institute for more on how to become a mechanic.