Oconto uses virtual welders to introduce middle school students to career


OCONTO – Students at Oconto Middle School have the chance to explore new career opportunities while trying their hand at welding.

The Oconto Unified School District expanded MobileArc as part of a $20,000 tech revamp made possible through Leap for Learning, a new tech revamp program offered by Green Bay Packers and UScellular and partially funded by grants. I bought a reality welding system and a Prusa i3 3D printer. From the NFL Foundation.

Students at Oconto Middle School practice welding techniques using the MobileArc augmented reality welding system.

School district superintendent Emily Miller said the virtual welder gives students the chance to try welding without the inherent dangers of burns, eye injuries, and electric shock.

“The goal is to provide a variety of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) opportunities so that students can follow up on welding and metalworking at the high school level,” she said.

In high school, we offer college credit courses in welding through Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Welding Simulator allows students to practice multiple welding processes in a realistic simulator that produces a three-dimensional image of the metal workpiece. Realistic arc sounds accompany the visuals and contribute to the immersive experience. Students are monitored, scored, and provided feedback on their welding techniques. Initially, students from 5th grade through her 8th grade will use the welding system, but the system can easily be transferred to high school.

“Students learn the basics of welding, choose different types of welding, and practice different welding techniques in a safe environment,” says Miller.

The Virtual Welding program is an example of how collaboration between school districts and local businesses can help strengthen communities. Chad Hendzel, his NWTC Welding Instructor and Operations Manager at Yakfab Metals Inc., of Oconto, said the metalworking industry needs more welders and programs like this could provide young people with this lucrative and diverse workforce. Said to introduce his career path.

“It’s good to have some experience at the middle school level. If it’s a path they’re interested in, they’ll be able to attend some welding classes in high school,” says Hendzel. “Welding is a fun job if you have mechanical ability and like working with your hands.”

Yakfab is a CNC Machining, Custom Welding and Manufacturing Machine Shop serving a variety of industries including Marine, Fire Protection, Paper, Food Processing and Chemical Processing.

“There’s a whole range of[welding]jobs. It’s not just sitting in a booth and welding for 10 hours and then going home,” he said. Welding careers are well paid and offer many opportunities for advancement.

“Many careers come from welding qualifications,” says Hendzel.

Students at Oconto Middle School use a virtual welder to master techniques without the risk of electric shock, burns, eye injuries, or infrared exposure.

Students at Oconto Middle School use a virtual welder to master techniques without the risk of electric shock, burns, eye injuries, or infrared exposure.

Jim Eckes, manufacturing manager at Nercon, says welders have many different career opportunities in areas such as manufacturing, metalworking and metal arts. Welding is an essential skill for his Nercon employees who design and manufacture conveyor systems and equipment for all types of consumer goods.

According to Eckes, one of the rewards of welding is being able to create something with your own hands and skill.

“Even in its most basic form, we are creating something,” says Eckes. “You can see the final product and how it fits into other assemblies.”

Introducing welding in middle school opens doors to careers students might not have thought of, saving them time and money pursuing a college degree or a career that isn’t a good fit for them, Eckes said. Additionally, students can learn to weld in a safe, heat- and hazard-free environment even before they enter high school.

“The sooner you pique their interest, the better off you’ll be,” said Eckes. “They can get started quickly and be more successful.”

While welding experience at the junior high school level can actually be a challenging, complex, and rewarding career, it also helps remove the stigma that manufacturing is a dirty, dingy jog, Eckes says. says.

The welding system was installed in a middle school STEAM lab in 2022-23. Virtual Welder provides students with a real-world, interactive experience of welding, plus a fun opportunity to practice what they’ve learned.

Samantha Boucher is the Director of Tourism for the Oconto County Economic Development Authority.

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Oconto County News Details: Check out our website!

This article originally appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette: Oconto Middle School students use virtual welders thanks to Packers



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