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/

Spotlight – February Edition


Mike Zaborowski is a Mechanical Engineer at Realityworks. He grew up in Owen, WI; the youngest child of 4. He and his wife moved to Eau Claire in 1988 when their daughter was born and fell in love with the area. Mike was working at The Hobby Master and made a lot of great friends he still has today.

At Realityworks, Mike’s responsibility is for the mechanical aspects of the products that are developed, whether they are designed in-house or not. Sometimes he gets the chance to brainstorm new designs too, which he really enjoys.

Designing the painting processes for the baby product has been one of Mike’s proudest moments so far at Realityworks.

“It was a huge challenge due to shape of the heads, as well as understanding adhesion and overcoming opinions on looks,” he reflected.

Mike’s favorite part about working for Realityworks is the empowerment the company provides.

“They don’t just make you feel like a member of the team, but give you the support that makes you know you ARE a member of the team,” Mike said. “I also really enjoy seeing products start and end. From concept to shipping and everything in between.”

Growing up, Mike said he always wanted to be an Engineer, just not the kind you might think.

“Pete McMillan was our school guidance counselor,” said Mike. “With a name like Zaborowski we spend a ton of time last in line. Only Tico Zukouski was behind me. I sat down in front of Pete and he said, “OK Mike, what do you want to do when you get out of school?” I said that I want to be an Engineer. He said, “That’s great, mechanical or electrical?” I looked at him somewhat dumbfounded and said, “NO, I want to drive a train!” He said, “NEXT!””

From vacations to his spare time, Mike’s hobbies impact his life outside of work.

“To sum it up, my hobbies revolve around cars, planes, helicopters, boats and rockets,” said Mike. “I have a level 2 certification for Model rocketry and have flown rockets to a mile high and 500MPH. I also have a few rocket designs on the market though Estes products. When people think of model rockets, I do that too, BUT… on a MUCH larger scale!”

“The IRCHA Jamboree was my favorite vacation,” said Mike. “It’s the world’s largest RC Helicopter event and lasts 5 days. Great time with my kind of people. I look forward to it each year.”

10 Ways to Use a Portable Workstation in Your Shop

The importance of storage space in a Career & Technical Education (CTE) classroom or shop cannot be understated. After all, the more organized you are, the better you can manage your classroom and keep your students safe, on task, engaged and productive. Yet CTE educators constantly tell us that they don’t have enough storage space in their classrooms – and much of the time, the storage solutions that are in place take up valuable work space.

That’s why we created our Portable Workstations. Available in two sizes and with locking wheels, these sturdy carts feature three drawers, one of which locks, plus a tough, grated work surface that is tough and durable.

Roll this mobile welding workstation into any area of your classroom or workshop to:

  1. Store tools and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  2. Complete woodworking, metalworking or small engine repair projects
  3. Keep your favorite tools close at hand and safely locked up when not in use
  4. Work with up to 250 lbs. of materials on the small workstation and up to 500 lbs. of materials on the large workstation
  5. Safely store gas cylinders for even the largest welders and projects
  6. Protect your equipment from slag and grinding dust
  7. Work on welding projects (the large cart even includes a removable welding curtain)
  8. Demonstrate techniques and best practices where all students can effectively observe
  9. Store projects and extra scraps
  10. Set up a portable welding work space or learning station anywhere

Learn more about our Portable Workstations from the Realityworks team member who helped engineer them, Mechanical Engineer Mike Zaborowski:

Tips for Programming Quiet Times for RealCare Baby® 3

By Nate Schlieve, Realityworks Product Support Technician

Quiet Times are a function that allows the instructor to set a specific time during a simulation where the RealCare Baby will not ask for any care. This is a discretionary function, and does not have to be used unless the instructor feels there is an event that warrants a Quiet Time. Here are some tips when setting the Quiet Times.

  1. Quiet Times can only be used up to three times during a simulation, and each Quiet Time has a maximum of 12 hours each. There is no way to increase the number of Quiet Times or increase the total hours of Quiet Times. So, if you use the Quiet Times, use them wisely.
  2. Quiet Times cannot be programmed at the same time a simulation begins. So if you set a simulation to start at 3 pm, you need to program the Quiet Time to begin at 4 pm.
  3. If programming an evening Quiet Time that will begin any time after midnight, be sure to set the Quiet Time to begin the following day. Example: if you have a simulation beginning on Friday, at 5 pm and you want the Quiet Time to begin at 1 am, you have to set the Quiet Time to begin on Saturday at 1 am. Remember, Friday ends at midnight.
  4. On rare occasions we have encountered instructors who use Quiet Times and Day Care during the same simulation. If you put the Baby into Day Care mode in the morning, but have an afternoon Quiet Time, you must end the Day Care BEFORE the Quiet Time starts. Example: Let’s say the students bring the Baby to you in the morning and you turn on the Day Care mode, but there is a 3 pm Quiet Time. You MUST end the Day Care BEFORE 2:59 pm. If you end the Day Care any time after 3 pm, you will also stop the Day Care.
  5. Finally, remind the students that in a Quiet Time the Baby will not ask for care, but the Baby WILL cry if mishandled (head supports, rough handling, shaken baby, wrong position). Quiet Time does not mean totally quiet; students are still responsible for how they handle Baby in a Quiet Time.

Full details on Quiet Time and Day Care modes can be found in the RealCare® Control Center Software Help Guide

For more RealCare Baby product support, including videos and FAQs check out our product support page.

Spotlight – January Edition

Brad Berg has been the Shipping Coordinator at Realityworks for 12 years. Though Brad was born in the area, he grew up in Osceola, returning to the Eau Claire area in 2000. He says that being able to focus and his attention to detail are his hidden talents, which are good for art projects that he enjoys while not at work. Brad said he can get so focused that his wife has to remind him to eat sometimes!

As shipping coordinator, Brad handles shipping of all domestic and international orders. He also serves departmental needs such as helping with small trade shows, quoting and keeping the company current with federal customs regulations.

The most interesting part of his job, Brad said, is that every day is a different challenge.

“The constant variations among domestic orders keeps me on my toes and the federal regulations involved with international orders are often an exercise in patience,” he said. “But seeing where and how far our products travel is great.  It shows how many people are understanding the needs our products address.”

Though the company has a lot of new and exciting products coming on board, Brad said that RealCare® Baby is still his favorite.

“It’s almost personable enough to be a real child, but the mission behind it – to teach firsthand the often unprepared experience of taking care of a child completely reliant upon you – that’s a powerful experience, and I don’t think it takes much for kids to really understand the enormous responsibility involved,” he said. “Whatever cute pipe dreams they have about having a child early are strongly grounded and discouraged by the experience when they see how deeply and completely a child takes over their lives.”

Brad said the culture of Realityworks is the best part about working for the company.

“Having a communicative, collaborative, and supportive group of departments and management team, our efforts at bettering the community – it’s just huge,” he said.  “The effort to lift society instead of break it down is so worth it.”

Honoring Dr. King

By Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc.

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

Today is a very special day. It is not a day of rest but a day of service to recognize the great Dr. King’s life work and ultimate sacrifice leading the civil rights movement in our country. Not only has his work greatly influenced the rights of African Americans but also of women and other marginalized groups. As one of the greatest orators in history, he exposed truths about our country that many would rather not face, but in a way that made them take notice and make change.

If you don’t know how this day came into being, after a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

While the Company did not close our doors on this day of remembering, as we don’t with many federal holidays, we do empower each of us to bring Dr. King’s vision to life in our communities. Each year the Company provides every employee with 4 hours of paid service to help strengthen our communities. In addition to this, we have a charitable giving program that is designed to take a portion of our profits to help provide resources to organizations that help families and children in need in our communities. I strongly encourage you on this special day to take time to remember what Dr. King did for our country. Thinking about how we make our communities stronger is the cornerstone of Dr. King’s mission in life. His work focused on empowering and energizing people to make our communities stronger. Through our collective work we can make a difference in our communities. I encourage you to take today and identify the action you can take this year to work to make a positive impact on the community you live in.