Windsor Central High School welding students are getting unlimited opportunities to improve their craft without having to worry about metal, electricity, or sparks thanks to a pair of virtual welding machines. They allow students to hone their skills by practicing travel speed, aim, travel angle, work angle, and arc length to perfect their craft before ever lighting a torch.
“Our goal is to eliminate cost because of how expensive the consumables are - electrodes, tungsten, MIG wire - that the kids use in the process of welding,” said WCHS agriculture teacher Tina Miner-James.
“What’s great about it is we had one of our students pick it up and he’s a natural. His first plate was pristine. Now he’s got that confidence and he’s down here all the time,” said WCHS agriculture teacher Jessica Swingle.
That student, Anthony Cardinale, is interested in a career in welding or plumbing, possibly in the Military.
“I don’t want to go to college and there’s a lot of help here for (welding). You can make a lot of money doing this. Why pass it up? There’s so much I can do with this,” said Cardinale.
“He can get down to the basics of how to do it and do it all the time. The fact that these kids are down here in their study halls working on these machines tell me they’re worth it,” said Swingle.
“It’s exciting to see they’re excited and that they want to go above and beyond to achieve their goals and master welding,” said Miner-James.
WCHS now offers four welding classes, including a welding sculpture art class.
“Even though we have more welding students, we have smaller classes and that gives students more times on these machines and in the welding booths,” said Swingle.
Working on the virtual machines makes the transition to the welding booths easier.
“It’s helped a lot. It helps me keep my angle right and control my speed. I was going too fast, and my welds were getting messed up and this shows you your speed and how fast to go.,” said Cardinale.
“It’s scary when you walk into that welding booth for the first time. If we can give them that confidence before they get in there, it will develop their skills faster,” said Miner-James.
That development happens quickly, via both virtual and actual experience.
“It’s a great opportunity because I can start way earlier than most kids,” said Cardinale.