Insight on Manufacturing

March 2020

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14 | /INSIGHT ON MANUFACTURING • March 2020 w w s i g h t o n m f g . c o m Green Bay West senior Dylan Larsen works on the AugmentedARC augmented reality welding system at Bay Link Manufacturing, a program headquartered at the high school. The machine allows students to practice and refine their welding skills. E D U C AT I O N & T R A I N I N G A dose of reality New AR tool trains students at Bay Link Manufacturing BY SHARON VERBETEN W E L D I N G A N D M E T A L fabricating may be hands-on skills, but before students handle the heavy- duty machines, they're now able to practice and refine those skills in virtual reality. Bay Link Manufacturing, a company/education collaborative made up of Green Bay Area Public School District juniors and seniors, recently purchased an AugmentedARC augmented reality welding system made by Miller Electric in Appleton. Bay Link Manufacturing Coordinator Andy Belongia believes Green Bay West High School is the only school in the region to have the system. "It's a way for people to be exposed to welding without the dangers," says Belongia, who heads the program, which is housed in a former automotive shop space at Green Bay West. "It gives you a really good experience." The system is similar to a VR game — where a student wears a headset, sets the project specifications, holds a wand and simulates welding in AR. It especially helps with hand-eye coordination, Belongia says. Bay Link, which was founded six years ago as a collaboration among the Green Bay schools, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and the NEW Manufacturing Alliance, purchased the $25,000 tool, using its funds as well as those from other school departments. The portable device can be taken to area high schools to train students. "I felt it was a worthwhile investment," says Belongia, noting that Manitowoc Cranes uses a similar AR tool to train its workers. Students apply to work for Bay Link, which teaches about 25 students per year in morning and afternoon shifts. The company also operates in summer. Through the program, students learn skills in welding, machining and fabricating, as well as business skills (accounting, bidding) and employability skills, such as S H A R O N V E R B E T E N

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