RMIT: Virtual welding simulator offers safer and simpler training

Starting with a gradual rollout to plumbing courses in the College of Vocational Education, the simulator is first being introduced to first year apprentices and pre-apprenticeship students who have limited or no experience with welding.

The VRTEX Virtual Welding Simulator uses high quality graphics with sound effects and movement to simulate a range of welding situations and techniques.

It provides students a hazard-free and stimulating environment to learn new skills.

Fourth-year plumbing student Teamo Ngariini said it’s great future cohorts will learn using a simulator before the real thing.

“Using the virtual welding simulator in my first year would have saved a lot of errors, mistakes, and wasted materials,” he said.

For Senior Educator Dave Moyle, it’s a safer and simpler way to ease students into welding – without the noise, heat and mess.

“Learning to weld can be quite daunting but now students can get a feel of the process and practice while getting accurate feedback, so they can improve their technique,” he said.

Moyle said it’s also a way for RMIT to offer hands-on training without the need for excessive material waste.

“Before we had the simulator, students would get frustrated and sweaty while using up welding rods and steel just to perfect one weld,” he said.

“Imagine wearing a heavy jacket, gauntlets and a mask you can hardly see out of – all while dealing with the noisy welding machine and trying to focus on a new experience.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Vocational Education and President Mish Eastman said this new technology-based learning can empower and support students upskilling for the future.

“The welding simulator provides opportunities for students to receive accurate and personalised feedback in real time,” she said.

“It also allows time for practice, in a low-risk, low-waste environment.”

Feedback from students and teachers in the pilot group will be collected mid-year as part of the gradual rollout.