Quality welds are produced by good workmanship, which takes practice, dedication and equipment. But the materials and equipment can quickly add up. So, Gainesville High School partnered with Lincoln Electric Company, General Electric and the North Central Texas College to provide students with the latest technology and resources to gain hands-on experience in the welding industry.
Students enrolled in the advanced agricultural courses at Gainesville High School work with a Lincoln welding simulator in the classroom before welding in the shop at NCTC.
“Lincoln donated the simulator, and we train in the classroom using this technology,” explained Shannon McCuistion, agricultural science teacher at Gainesville High School. After learning techniques in the classroom, the students obtain additional practice using the welding machines at NCTC.
To learn the skills and techniques to produce a quality weld, students deplete materials in the traditional trial and error process. The welding simulator allows students to log the same amount of hours, but without consuming an excessive amount of materials.
“Using the simulator saves our department money on materials, which is important because we have to continue to budget,” McCuisition said.
The simulator also allows all students to observe one another.
“The students are able to watch on the monitors, and I can explain welding techniques without cramming my students into one welding station,” McCuistion said.
Students throw on the helmet, and enter a virtual worksite. They grab the electrode holder, strike an arc and hear the sounds of welding, while watching the bead form and the electrode retracting as it “melts.”
During this time, McCuistion can monitor the arc length, travel speed and electrode angle, and review with the student after.
“We’re learning how to weld using cool technology,” said Cory Neill, a junior at Gainesville High School who first used the simulator at the beginning of the school year.
After practicing on the simulator, the students use the welding machines at NCTC where each student is provided a welding kit, which includes a helmet, gloves, electrode holder, welding pliers and much more.
Lindon Carr, a welding instructor at NCTC, and McCuistion collaborate on the various projects the students will complete using the different types of welding.
And several of the students in the advanced class are interested in a welding career.
“The advanced class can take the American Welding Society test and come out certified,” McCuisition explained. “It’s exciting to watch these kids use the latest technology and finish the course with skills they can use in the real world.”