Welding Pays Off: The Importance of “Upskilling” in Today’s Welding Education Programs

By Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

Every April, educators, students and business leaders come together to bring awareness to and speak about the value of welding. National Welding Month is an annual celebration and recognition of welding’s impact on our world and the important role it plays in our everyday lives. Now is the perfect time to consider just how important it is that our welding students have the skills they need to succeed.

The demand for skilled welders is growing. The American Welding Society predicts a need of almost 200,000 welders in the United States by 2020, while the Manufacturing Institute has stated that in the next decade alone, there will be a need for nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs.

To ensure the welding industry is prepared to meet this demand, today’s welding educators and instructors must make certain that their programs and training methods are equipping today’s young people with the skills employers are looking for. And, in a workforce that will increasingly require those who are agile, adaptable and highly qualified, “upskilling” students above and beyond the fundamentals of welding will only make them more employable in a competitive, high-demand industry.

Skills pay off

With an oversupply of entry-level welders and a growing number of skilled welders ready to retire, welding and manufacturing companies are paying more and more attention to welding codes and qualification standards. This means welders who are certified, or who are able to examine and test their own welds, are more attractive than ever before – and their pay reflects that attraction. According to the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International’s “2013 Salary/Wage & Benefit Survey,” a welder who is certified to AWS, ASME and other codes has the broadest salary range of any shop floor position, up to $83,000 for a base salary, not including overtime and bonuses.

While having basic welding skills can certainly pay off, other skill sets can also pay large dividends. Figure 1 depicts the many paths one can take when considering a welding-related career. For instance, the chart shows the average pay for a welding supervisor and a manufacturing production supervisor. With reported average pay ranges around $12,000 higher than an average welder, these highly skilled positions are rewarded with higher pay.

When speaking with various workforce development boards and companies within the welding industry, it’s not uncommon to hear welding and manufacturing industry representatives say that they routinely pay more per hour for employees who can visually inspect welds and supervise others in the creation of quality welds over those who could simply create the quality welds.

Barring geography, experience, skill level and employer, the message is clear: By focusing on basic skill development and the development of additional career-specific skills such as weld testing and qualification, educators and trainers are opening the doors to higher pay, more benefits and in the long run, more successful careers.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of “Welding Productivity.” Click here to view the article in its entirety.

Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome One Demonstration at a Time

by Kati Stacy

Around 2005, Kathy Lopez-Bushnell, APRN, EdD, MPH, MSN, Director of ClinicalNursing Research at University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH), was in a meeting when a community member approached her and said they had a terrible problem.

“She said that we’re not taking care of the families of shaken baby victims,” said Lopez-Bushnell. “So she and I and the CEO and other execs met and she told her story.”

This community member, who represented families going through the legal systemregarding Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) cases, explained that New Mexico had one of the highest rates of SBS and child abuse death in the country.

“After listening to her story, the execs saw there was a problem and they turned to me and said, go fix it,” Lopez-Bushnell shared.

After researching literature, Lopez-Bushnell found a program in New York state, headed by Mark S. Dias, MD, FAAP. The premise of Dias’ program was that parents who were taught about SBS immediately after their babies were born, when parent-child bonding is very strong, would be less likely to shake their baby. Dias’ program also recognized the effectiveness that these parents could have on disseminating SBS information to others who might be in the position of caring for their child. Dias’ program was so successful that it cut the rates of SBS in the eight-county region of western New York in half.

“I called him and told him we’d like to replicate his study,” said Lopez-Bushnell. “He couldn’t have been more helpful. He sent us volumes of information and we recreated his study here.”

In 2010, UNMH began a program modeled on this study. In 2012, they began using the RealCare™ Shaken Baby simulator by Realityworks®, Inc., with the educational program that was already in place.

UNMH Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention and Awareness Program

UNMH’s Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention and Awareness Program (SBSPAP) has four main goals:

  1. to provide educational materials about SBS to the parents of newborn infants
  2. to assess parents’ comprehension of the dangers of violent infant shaking
  3. to track penetration of the program through the collection of returned commitment statements (CS); and
  4. to evaluate the program’s effect on the incidence of SBS.

They work to accomplish this by teaching families of newborns as well as families with infants who come into the ICU for various reasons.

“We’re a Level II unit in ICU, so we take babies who are usually sick,” said Erika Cole, RN, BSN, RNC-LRN, ICN Unit Director at UNMH. “Upon admission to the unit, we start discharge teaching right away. One of the key pieces that we touch with every parent is the prevention of SBS using the Shaken Baby simulator.”

The program incorporates several tools during this education process. A handout gives tips about how to cope with infant crying and stats about what SBS is, etc. Nurses are given training on how to speak with parents and caregivers about how babies cry, that it’s okay if they cry and giving parents the okay to put them down and walk away if the need to. When Babies Cry, a video which comes with the Shaken Baby simulator, is shown. Finally, there is a demonstration with the Shaken Baby simulator to dramatically depict how easy it is to cause damage to an infant and what harm can potentially occur. From January 2016 to August 2016, 786 parents have participated in UNMH’s program.

The Shaken Baby simulator looks, feels and sounds like a real infant, with the exception of its clear head, which is equipped with LED lights. When shaken, the lights illuminate areas of the brain that have been damaged by the shaking event. “It’s a hard topic to discuss, and many parents might think, ‘Who doesn’t know not to shake a baby,’” said Cole. “But surprisingly 1 out of 6 parents we’ve talked with say that this was the first time they heard that [shaking a baby] was dangerous.”

Seven months later the families are called and asked what they remember of this education. According to Deisree Torrez, mathematician and research volunteer with the program, most parents remember working with the simulator.

One story that sticks out the most is a conversation she had with a Dad who called back.

“He said, ‘I remember the doll the most,’” Desiree Torrez recounted. “He continued, stating ‘whenever my baby cries and I start to get frustrated, I just remember you guys making me shake that doll and I know it’s time to put my kid down. I just don’t want to do that to my child.’”

The program has recently expanded its efforts to prevent child abuse by incorporating 30 additional Shaken Baby simulators into their program. Created by Realityworks, Inc., these electronic simulators have helped the hospital significantly reduce rates of Shaken Baby Syndrome since they were first implemented in 2012.

“There is a substantial amount of child abuse in NM, and a need for education as a potential preventative measure, given the significant morbidity and mortality in our state,” said Christopher Torrez, MD, Pediatric Resident Physician, PGY 3 at UNMH . “The doll leaves a lasting impression on our parents. Often, when we complete the 7-month follow-up, one of the things they remember the most is interacting with the doll.”

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt of a larger testimonial about the UNMH Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention and Awareness Program. Click here to read the testimonial in its entirety.

Why Did RealCare Baby Shutdown?

By Nate Schlieve, Realityworks Product Support Technician

Did you know that there are four ways that RealCare Baby can turn off before its scheduled stop time? Ever look at your simulation report and see “______ Shutdown” and wondered what it means? The four different methods that can end a simulation early are: Abuse Shutdown, Battery Shutdown, Emergency Shutdown, Neglect Shutdown. Here is what causes the Baby to trigger each
specific shutdown.

Abuse Shutdown – Occurs when the Baby has been mishandled 24 times. That includes head supports, rough handling and shaken baby. Once Baby triggers 24 mishandle events the Baby will turn off.

Battery Shutdown – Battery level drained out enough to stop the simulation.

Emergency Shutdown – This occurs when the button that is above the red light is held down for 6 continuous chimes. This is manual, it will NEVER happen on its own.

Neglect Shutdown – If the Baby does not respond to an ID within 12 continuous hours it will turn itself off. So if the student gets the wrong ID, of the ID does not get programmed, it will turn off in 12 hours.

Visit our RealCare Baby Product Support page for videos, guides, FAQs and troubleshooting tips!

Calling All FACS Educators: Help NASAFACS Review National Family & Consumer Science Standards

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV and National Family and Consumer Education Standards Review Member

Do you teach Family & Consumer Sciences at the high school or college level? Are you an industry representative or business leader with an interest in Family and Consumer Sciences programs in your community? The National Association of State of Administrators of Family and Consumer Sciences (NASAFACS) needs your help!

NASAFACS is seeking FACS educators and stakeholders from secondary education, post-secondary education, and business and industry to help review the final draft of the Family and Consumer Sciences National Standards 3.0.

The Family and Consumer Sciences Education National Standards form a comprehensive structure designed to accommodate varying state philosophies and issues related to standards and delivery systems. FACS, like other disciplines, is concerned with the integration of academic knowledge and achievement in a contextual approach. Your efforts will help ensure that these standards meet current and projected industry needs.

Want to help? Take 10-15 minutes to review the final draft of the standards by clicking here. Remember to consider the area of study, industry needs for this area, and pedagogy.

The more people who complete the survey, the better the results will be. Feel free to share this message and survey link with colleagues who are qualified to review them as well.

Diane holds a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. She has been with Realityworks for more than 3 years and has been instrumental in assisting educators with implementing educational solutions that make a difference in students’ lives. She was selected to join nine other reviewers from across the country to participate in the Family and Consumer Sciences National Standards 3.0 project.

Student Workbooks as an Effective Instructional Resource

Educators have debated the effectiveness of worksheets, handouts and workbooks for years.  Similar to technology use in the classroom, efficacy all depends on how they are used.  Here are a few nuggets to contemplate from a review of literature on the subject:

  • Graphic organizers help learners to understand tasks by nurturing active participation, decrease dependency on rote learning and memorization, tap into learners’ prior knowledge, and show association between concepts to build new understanding (Kirylo & Millet, 2000).
  • Worksheets help students to construct knowledge, help to assess students and get feedback, are used as supplemental material to textbooks in authentic lessons, and build scaffolding for  some teaching strategies (Demircioglu & Kaymakci, 2011).
  • Using Multiple Intelligences learning theory, teachers should vary instruction and assessment strategy because all students do not learn and exhibit learning the same way (Smith 2002, 2008) Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligences.

We are happy to announce two new student workbooks now available as supplemental resources to the RealCare Baby Simulation Experience and the Pregnancy Profile Simulation.

The RealCare Baby Experience Workbook includes all handouts needed for the simulation experience. Rather than photocopying dozens of pages, it is all ready for use in this handy workbook. Graphic organizers, rubrics and quizzes are included. Students will also complete journal and self-assessment exercises to reflect on their learning.  The completed workbook is a great addition to student portfolios for highlighting this project.

The My Life Student Workbook is a companion product to the Pregnancy Profile simulation experience. Rather than photocopying and assembling these workbooks in class, you can use that valuable time to teach the key objectives. Many of the handouts involve setting goals, reflecting on what a teen pregnancy would do to those goals and journal on a wide variety of questions relating to the impact of an unplanned pregnancy. These exercises strengthen student writing and research skills. The completed workbook provides a meaningful take-home manual that students can keep and refer to.

Follow this link to learn more about these effective student workbooks and how you can use them in your program.

Instructor Uses In-Helmet Guides to Boost Student Confidence During Live Welding

by Emily Kuhn

For Hutchinson Community College Welding Technology Instructor Greg Siepert, Realityworks’ guideWELD™ LIVE real welding guidance system is a portable, easy-to-use way to rid seasoned welders of bad habits and boost the confidence of first-time welders.

“We struggle with confidence a lot,” said Siepert, who teaches the first year of this Kansas vocational school’s two-year welding program. “When students are in the booth, I can’t tell them in the middle of a weld that they’re right where they need to be, but when they don’t know, even if it looks right, they aren’t confident in their ability. This system gives them real-time feedback on what they’re doing and if it is right or wrong, and it builds their confidence.”

That real-time feedback is provided inside the welding helmet on work angle, travel angle and arc speed during live, arc-on welding. It occurs in the user’s periphery vision, similar to the manner in which video games communicate information to players on-screen or cars communicate speed and mileage to drivers from the instrument panel. With the guideWELD LIVE helmet in place, users see real-time guides on the right and left sides of their vision, and can focus on those guides or their weld as needed during a weld.

The guideWELD LIVE system, which works with almost any MIG welding machine, consists of a welding helmet, speed sensor board and hand sensor. Once the user has calibrated his or her welding gun, he or she can turn on all three indicators simultaneously or focus on only one or two at a time.

“The big application for this system is for those who are struggling with those basics,” said Siepert. “You can give this to them, show them the indicators and watch them make the change.”

According to Siepert, a lack of confidence is a common problem among his first-year welding students. He shared the story of one student who had the skills down but “didn’t feel right about his welds.”

“I had him work with it for 30 minutes,” Siepert recalled, “and he came back and said he got it – and his welds had vastly improved. So did his confidence.”

Although Siepert teaches a beginning welding program, his classes often include students with a range of backgrounds and experiences. In addition to reinforcing basic welding technique and positioning, Siepert also found the guideWELD LIVE system to be a useful supplement for retraining.

“This system is good for students who come out of industry or another program or from being taught at home and had bad habits,” said Siepert. “Habits are hard to break, and this would help – they would know exactly what to correct in real time.”
Being able to easily introduce the system to students of different technical abilities was key, according to Siepert, who started using it with a class of varying abilities. Some students had never welded before, some had some education and one was a displaced worker with no formal education but years of experience.

“The setup is phenomenal because it’s quick and fast,” said Siepert. “I could pick the system up and move it to a booth, and it didn’t involve any modification of what I did. All I had to do was show the student how to use it.”

As Siepert pointed out, however, being able to successfully introduce the system to a new student goes beyond just getting them started. For those who have never seen this kind of technology in a welding shop before, successful implementation can mean establishing an understanding of why this type of tool works – and that it is OK to use.

“As welding education improves and technology improves along with it, and we slowly start moving away from how it’s been done for years, there’s still a consensus that if there are supporting teaching aids used, it’s a walk of shame,” said Siepert. “We’re trying to fight that… this system adds another level to their education.”

The guideWELD LIVE system includes curriculum, which features units on safety, welding defects and welding procedure specifications. Presentation slides, teacher guides, worksheets and tests are provided as well.

“Any time you can take away frustration and build confidence, you gain retention,” said Siepert. “This system is a stepping stone from the virtual world to the real world.”

Spotlight – March Edition

Allen Jacobson has been a Designer at Realityworks for over five years. He grew up on a hobby farm in Alma, WI. They had chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, beef cattle, horses, pigs, dogs, cats and even a pet crow named Heckle. He and his wife Kim have been married for over ten fun-filled years and are the proud owners of a German Wirehaired Pointer and a Boxer. Two very energetic dogs.

When not at work, Allen enjoys travel, running, biking, hunting, golfing, basketball, kickball and most of all working on new projects. Growing up, Allen wanted to be an architect. Though he took a different path, he said he still enjoys dabbling in this field when working on homes and cabins.

“I’ve had my hand in constructing/remodeling over 10 homes with my dad. This all started at around the age of 12.”

Although he has fun building and remodeling homes, Allen enjoys smaller projects with faster results, like a bike trailer he modified out of an old burley and a pot rack he made for his kitchen.

As the Designer at Realityworks, Allen works on the website, literature, ads, videos, tradeshow displays, packaging and new product concepts.

“My favorite parts of working at Realityworks are the super friendly I work with and I get to work on so many different projects,” he said. “I really do think I have the best job.”

The best memory he has from working at Realityworks so far was at a recent trade show that he attended.

“At the 2016 ACTE show, when the booth was set up, Rick Jurmain (Realityworks co-founder) stopped to talk/gush about how impressed he was with the booth, new products, the great new people (in the company) and the overall growth of Realityworks into a real CTE company,” he recalled. “It was a very cool moment.”

Fostering Geriatric Sensitivity through Age Simulation

By Kati Stacy

Miranda Kessler, RN-BSN, is the Health Occupations Instructor at Nicholas County Career and Technical Center in West Virginia where she teaches 11th and 12th grade students. The program includes health science courses with the goal of the students obtaining their West Virginia State Nursing Assistant Certification at the end of the two-year program.

“We are in a very poor county with approximately 1000 students in grades 10-12,” said Kessler. “We have seven feeder schools from three counties. Our area is very poor and jobs are incredibly limited. Some students will leave to go to college, but statistics show that the majority of our students won’t leave. It is so important that we reach these students and teach them a skill that can be used to take care of themselves and their families.”

When looking for a product to begin teaching geriatric sensitivity, Kessler chose the RealCare™ Geriatric Simulator by Realityworks because she felt the included components were a great value for the money. Designed for secondary and post-secondary education programs, the Geriatric Simulator allows users to experience a variety of age-related physical challenges.

“When I told my principal about the simulator after seeing literature on it at a conference and he saw how excited I was to use and implement it into my program, he bought in immediately and ordered it for me with no hesitation,” she said. “When the simulator came, he was so excited about it, he was actually the first person to try it! He was amazed by how it changed his normal routine activities and made everything feel much
more physically demanding.”

Kessler thought her students could really get good use out of the Geriatric Simulator and learn from the experience of wearing it.

“I wanted to be able to teach my students to be more understanding and empathetic with the aging process once we made it into our clinical rotation at the local nursing home,” reflected Kessler. “I wanted them to understand why the residents moved so slowly and I wanted them to learn to be patient and kind while working with them.”

Students in Kessler’s class are introduced to the Geriatric Simulator during their unit on growth and development and the aging process. During note taking time, they dress in the suit, which includes a weight vest (adjustable, one-size-fits-most), ankle weights, wrist weights. elbow restraints, knee restraints, gloves and a cervical collar. They also wear the glasses to impair their vision while note taking to see how it inhibits them.

“Initially, the reaction is, “This can’t be that bad,” or they laugh and giggle while gettingdressed in the simulator,” said Kessler. “After wearing the suit for the recommended 20-30 minutes though, their feelings generally start to change.”

Kessler said she sees the students becoming tired and their actions becoming slower and more purposeful throughout that time.

“Many of the students say that they didn’t realize it would be so fatiguing,” she said. “I’ve never had a student complain after wearing the simulator though; I’ve always only had positive comments.”

“After wearing the suit,” Kessler continued, “I try to have a one-on-one conversation with each student and discuss the experience. How did you feel before and after? How did your body respond? How did your breathing change? What did you find most challenging? What did you do in an attempt to compensate for your deficits?”

Kessler currently has one Geriatric Simulator that her classes have been using since September, but she said if her enrollment continues to grow she may look into purchasing another if funding becomes available. She is also looking into adding Realityworks’ new Geriatric Sensory Impairment Kit to her program through a grant she is writing. The kit features wearable components which provide users with age-related sensory changes to help with understanding common aging changes including: hearing impairment, geriatric arthritis and geriatric tremor.

“It is so important to get these kids to understand the pains and aches that our elderly generation feel every day, so that they can provide better care for our aging population,” reflected Kessler. “Even more than the physical aspect of aging, the mental and emotional status must be considered. These students can learn so much from the generation that we are now caring for – they can gain valuable life experience if they just slow down and listen and most importantly, respect the geriatric population.”

Does RealCare Baby Adjust for Daylight Saving Time?

By Nate Schlieve, Realityworks Product Support Technician

Daylight Saving Time begins on March 12th, and many might be wondering “Does RealCare Baby adjust for DST?” The answer is no, during the simulation Baby will not adjust to Daylight Saving Time. If you have a specific Quiet Time for Sunday the 12th, you will want to adjust the time and possibly the length of the quiet time. Let’s say you need a Quiet Time to begin at noon on Sunday. When it is noon in real time, Baby thinks it is 11 am, so you will need to set your Quiet Time to begin at 11 am.

Once the simulation has ended you may ask yourself, “how do I adjust Baby so it is on real time?” The answer is, you do not have to make any adjustments. RealCare Baby takes the time from your Control Center, and your Control Center takes the time from the clock in your computer. As long as your computer has adjusted to DST (most computers do), then your Babies will be on the correct time when you program the next simulation. Double check the clock in your computer after March 12th, if it is on the correct time, the Babies will also be on the correct time.

Visit our RealCare Baby Product Support Page for Videos, Guides, FAQs and Troubleshooting Documents to help you manage your RealCare Program!

5 Ways to Engage Today’s Agriculture Students

By Emily Kuhn

You may have noticed that there are some unique differences between the Generation Z students that sit in your agriculture classroom today and the millennials you previously taught. Today’s students are even more tech-savvy, can multi-task even faster and, if you can believe it, have an even shorter attention span than their predecessors. They read less than 20% of text; think in 4D, not 3D; and are used to immediate feedback.[1]

The standard classroom model where an educator stands in front of the class and lectures simply doesn’t work for these students. Generation Z students want to be successful – in fact, the desire to change the world is a hallmark of this generation – but they will disengage with the discussion if they don’t feel connected or if they don’t see the relevance.

Did I mention that Generation Z students are used to immediate feedback? Current technology has made them used to finding out anything, anytime, anywhere – the world is literally at their fingertips. Today’s agriculture students don’t just want to hear about a topic, they want to see it, touch it and feel it.

How do you engage today’s students in agriculture education?

1. Replace lengthy PowerPoint presentations with brief presentations that incorporate polls, activities and hands-on demonstrations every few slides.

2. Use videos, online activities and group work in addition to the textbook. By varying their focus, you’ll help keep it.

3. Use hands-on learning aids like our new Animal Models and Plant Science Models. These larger-than-life models can be taken apart and put back together as students explore each animal’s internal and external anatomy.

4. Don’t forget that “Why” is as important as “What.” As one of my colleagues recently informed me, Generation Z students need to know that what they’re learning is relevant, and by answering the “Why” question with evidence-based reasoning before teaching the “How,” you’ll assure them that the concept you’re about to teach applies to real life.

5. Incorporate soft skill development whenever possible. Your students will come to you with a varying degree of these skills, but you know all employers will look for them. Collaborative work helps build communication skills, assignment tweaks and activity changes help build flexibility, open-ended questions help build problem-solving skills and reflection activities help build critical thinking skills. (Our Employability Skills Program can help, too.)

With nearly 60,000 high-skilled agriculture and related job openings expected annually in the U.S. over the next five years, it’s more important than ever to ensure that today’s agriculture students are engaged. By creating an interactive, hands-on learning environment where they can engage in active learning opportunities, you’re setting your students up for success.

[1] https://growingleaders.com/blog/six-defining-characteristics-of-generation-z/