Southeastern receives donation of virtual reality welding simulator for use in industrial technology program

Thursday, August 24, 2017 welding simulator
by: Rene Abadie

LEARNING IN VIRTUAL REALITY – Southeastern Louisiana University Industrial Technology Instructor Anthony Blakeney, left, explains the use of the virtual reality welding instruction system now being used in the program to students Rhett Hickman of Covington, center, and Tanner Mayo of Prairieville. The $65,000 welding simulator was donated to Southeastern by Geo Heat Exchangers of St. Gabriel.

     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University students enrolled in its expanding industrial technology courses will soon benefit from the donation of a virtual reality welding simulator.
     The new $65,000 welding simulator – a Lincoln Electric Vrtex 360 – came fully equipped with all the bells and whistles from GEO Heat Exchangers, according to Lu Yuan, interim head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology. The new equipment can be used for training welders and supervisors at all levels, he said
     “This donation adds tremendous value as we develop a welding technology and inspection concentration within the industrial technology (IT) program,” said Yuan, interim head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology. “The students and faculty will have access to state-of-the-art equipment to learn welding techniques and be able to augment instruction with use of traditional welding systems.”
     He expressed appreciation to GEO Heat Exchangers and its president, Gene Ohmstede Jr., for support of Southeastern’s industrial technology program. Located in St. Gabriel, the company employs 140 specialists who design and manufacture shell and heat tube exchangers for petro-chemical, plastics and fertilizer industries.
     Southeastern’s relationship with GEO was developed through a partnership with local professional sections of the American Welding Society and the university’s CSIT Industrial Advisory Committee. The committee is made up of professionals who serve as advisers on curriculum development and the needs of employers.
     Students in the IT program receive a broad technical and managerial background in materials and production processes, industrial management and communication skills, and physical sciences and mathematics to effectively hold supervisory positions in area industries and plants.
     “Our students are prepared through intensive hands-on training and real-world experiences to enter the workforce with the skills area employers are seeking,” Yuan said.
     The virtual reality welding simulator will augment training in traditional welding processes, explained IT Instructor Anthony Blakeney. The simulator can mimic several forms of welding, including shielded metal arc welding, or stick welding, gas metal arc welding, and flux core arc welding. Users can simulate welding in all positions without the need to use extensive power or metal consumables.
     “The machine is a virtual reality welding system. There is no fire or electricity other than what powers the system,” he said.
     Blakeney said the system guides the student into making correct settings and adjustments that would be required to weld using a traditional welding machine. The user wears a specially equipped helmet to observe his or her work, and a monitor provides real-time feedback to other students and observers. A large, flat-screen monitor will allow all students in the classroom/laboratory to observe the process avoiding having to have them crowd around the system.
     The IT degree program at Southeastern is a management-oriented technical curriculum and is built on a program of studies drawn from a variety of disciplines related to manufacturing technology, Yuan explained. With approximately 300 students enrolled, the program offers concentrations in automated systems; drafting; supervision; and occupational safety, health and environment.

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