Teacher Tip: Boost Skill Development With Nursing Students

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV

Ashe County High School Nursing Instructor Phyllis Ashley knows how important it is for her students to understand geriatric health concerns and be empathetic toward the elderly. The National Institute on Aging reports an unprecedented growth rate of the world’s older population: today, a mere 8.5 percent of people worldwide (617 million) are aged 65 and over. This percentage is projected to jump to nearly 17 percent of the world’s population by 2050 (1.6 billion). In North Carolina, where Ashley teaches, one in five citizens will be 65 or older by 2035.

As the elderly population grows, so will demand for workers skilled in geriatric health care. That’s why Ashley organizes a workshop for twice a year in which parents, family members and other students gather to see firsthand what her Advanced Health Science students are learning. At a recent workshop, her students had a unique experience to offer their visitors: the chance to “walk in the shoes” of an elderly adult.

The RealCare Geriatric Simulator by Realityworks is a wearable age simulation suit that uses custom eye glasses, weights, limb restraints and other pieces to simulate age-related physical challenges like visual impairment and stiff joints. Ashley’s students have been using the tool to learn what it’s like to be an elderly patient, develop geriatric sensitivity and learn how to provide better care for their future patients.

At the workshop, Ashley set up tables that featured the visual impairment glasses and gloves that come with the simulator. There, visitors could complete everyday tasks with the glasses and gloves on. She created another area where visitors could put the entire suit on and use the walker that accompanies the simulator. These experiences allowed visitors to get a taste of the concepts Ashley’s students are learning, while her students got hands-on experience demonstrating their skills.

 

“We had 32 people come through in two hours,” said Ashley. “I hope to do the workshop at least two times next school year, and we’re hoping to expand it.”

Diane Ross holds a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. She has been with Realityworks since 2013, and has been instrumental in assisting educators with implementing educational solutions that make a difference in students’ lives.

Finding Inspiration

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV

I attended the NC WORKS Conference last month and walked away truly inspired.  I work in sales for Realityworks and keeping a pipeline of customers is essential for company survival.  Inspiration comes from seeing students become successful in life as a result of our products.

NC WORKS is not really focused on just finding jobs for people, but that is a GOOD thing.  They are focused on preparing people for well-paying careers and they have a great plan in place.  The pipeline starts with Career and Technical Education Directors looking at middle school, where kids explore careers suited to their intellect, their interest and their lifestyles.  That pipeline extends to high school, where students begin to make career choices, such as healthcare, or welding, or electrical trades, for instance.

Students choose a life career pathway that leads them to a certification, such as Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).  But, the NC WORKS group does not want the student to stop there.  They want the student to get that certification as a step into post-secondary, where the community college might take the student from CNA into an allied health field, such as respiratory therapy.

The goal is to get a student highly skilled so that they can best support themselves (salary) in their communities. That salary amount depends on where they choose to live, such as the higher end for areas like Charlotte and maybe less for more rural areas.

The bottom line here is the planning that goes into making sure we are pointing students toward careers that will allow them to live and prosper, create and support their families and be productive citizens.

The good news is that the products that my company is offering align directly in the pathways laid out by the NC WORKS commission.  Our products allow students to experience workplace skills, such as geriatric nursing, welding or electrical trades in a safe environment and allows a student to find out early if they are well-suited for this line of profession.  That makes me feel good.

This is a big charge to take on especially with and this month’s proposed Presidential Budget.  It is aimed at cutting Career and Technical Education funding by a national average of 15%, this certainly won’t help this initiative.  In North Carolina alone, according to ACTE, the state could lose 28% of federal funding under the President’s proposed budget.

Let’s hope they keep working on that budget and keep education in focus.

Another Step Toward a Skilled Workforce: House Introduces Legislation to Strengthen CTE

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

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

The U.S. is on a path towards realizing how important Career and Technical Education (CTE) is in this country, and a big step forward on that journey was taken yesterday. On Thursday, May 4th, a bill to update the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. Introduced by Representative Glenn Thompson ( R-PA) and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), the bill, among other things, gives states more control over how to spend Perkins funding.

It is brilliant step by our legislators to ensure that our schools have the right structure and tools to teach today’s students about career opportunities that are vital to our economy, and ensure ensure they have the skills they need to succeed in the workforce.

This bill, which differs slightly from the one that Representative Thompson and Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced in Congress last July, seeks to reform several aspects of the Perkins Act to reflect the challenges facing students and workers today. Highlights of the bill include improved alignment between education and workforce development laws, which will drive program congruence. It also simplifies the process through which educators can access CTE funding by lessening bureaucratic requirements and expanding state control.

Funding for CTE programs helps students like these Altoona, WI middle schoolers, pictured with Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Realityworks President & CEO Timm Boettcher at the Altoona School District Fab Lab, learn industry-needed skills like coding and robotics.

I applaud the educators, business leaders, legislators and industry representatives who have worked so hard to maintain focus on strengthening CTE in our country. Without their efforts and the efforts of CTE advocates across the country, our schools would not be able to equip students with the academic, technical and job-related skills they need to succeed and keep our country’s workforce competitive.

It is spectacular to see those efforts coming to fruition, and I look forward to seeing how this bill unfolds as the House Committee on Education and the Workforce considers this legislation in the upcoming weeks. I would encourage it to not only pass but expand in scope as the need is strong to keep America great.

More information on the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act can be found here.

In addition to being the President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc., Timmothy Boettcher chairs the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition (IWNC), serves on the Board of Directors for Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and chairs the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board. Timm also invests energy into fostering entrepreneurial and innovation in leadership roles on the University Wisconsin – Stout Discovery Center Board, Innovation Foundation of Western Wisconsin, and EdNET Advisory Board. In recognition for his efforts, Timm was chosen as the 2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year. Timm has presented workforce development strategies on several national levels Harvard’s Pathway’s to Prosperity and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Expanding Programs for the Health Sciences Pathways

Realityworks is very excited to be expanding our programs for the Health Sciences pathways in 2017. With the need for healthcare workers expanding, the need for engaging, hands-on training will increase as well. Per a report released by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020 the need for healthcare workers will grow by 5.6 million. With this, post-secondary education for these jobs will also grow.

Our products provide comprehensive learning solutions that pair curriculum with interactive learning aids, student activities and assessment tools to create innovative learning environments. We focused our Health Sciences products on bringing educators practical, hands-on skill development opportunities using realistic and affordable training tools.

New product areas include:
Injections
Phlebotomy
Blood pressure
Catheterization
Wound care
Patient Care Skills
AND more!

We invite you to learn more about these great products be downloading our 2017 Health Science catalog here!

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.

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.”

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:

Reflections on VISION 2016: Why I’m Proud of the Realityworks Team

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

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

Last week, the Realityworks team had the pleasure of exhibiting our experiential learning tools at the largest gathering for Career and Technical Education professionals across the country: the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference. As President and CEO of Realityworks, Inc., and a member of ACTE’s Board of Directors, I was extremely proud to be exhibiting and presenting at such a gathering for several reasons

We debuted over a dozen new products for technical education. Educators have long been telling us of their need for innovative new ways to provide targeted skills training and prepare their students for careers. As Chair of the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition and the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, I have seen first-hand the importance of ensuring that today’s students have the chance to learn relevant job skills. The Realityworks team worked hard over the last year to research and design several new products that help educators engage students and prepare them for success in the workforce, and the ability to get live, in-person feedback from the very professionals we designed them for is truly exciting.

Timmothy Boettcher of Realityworks at ACTE's CareerTech VISION 2016

Watch Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc., review Realityworks’ new products at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference, which took place in Las Vegas December 1 & 2.

 

We connected with our customers. We wouldn’t be the company we are today if it weren’t for the dedicated, passionate educators who support us. From the teachers who first used RealCare Baby® (our flagship product) over two decades ago to those who now implement our new Geriatric Simulator in their health occupations programs and our virtual reality welding simulator in their welding programs, we are thankful for each and every one of them – and we jump at the chance to thank them in person.

We created and fostered partnerships with educators. We are dedicated to meeting the needs of 21st Century educators, and are excited to announce several new solutions to help them engage their students and prepare them for success in the workforce. Attending events like ACTE allows us to learn what educators are struggling with in the classroom and what they are interested in exploring in the upcoming year. That knowledge gives us insight into what is on the horizon for Career and Technical Education, which, in turn, helps ensure we can create products and programs that are truly useful to today’s educators.

Our success as a company depends on remaining profitable, yet profitability alone does not define our success. We measure our impact by how many lives are changed in positive ways, and how profoundly they are changed, as a result of our efforts. The recent Career and Technical Education conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our employees and our customers, and I am already looking forward to next year.

6 Reasons to Meet Realityworks at the Association for Career & Technical Education’s CareerTech VISION Conference

Every year, the Realityworks team journeys to the largest annual gathering of Career & Technical Education (CTE) professionals in a single location: The Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE)’s CareerTech VISION Conference. We typically plan for this conference a good year in advance, and this year is no exception. Held in the Las Vegas Convention Center from November 30 – December 2, this year’s conference will be attended by thousands of technology education professionals, educators and industry representatives. From product exhibits and presentations to interactive demonstrations and more, there are countless reasons to meet Realityworks at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference at Booth #529. Here are our top 6!

  1. Preview interactive products and simulators for nursing skills training, including injection training, elderly nursing care and catheterization
  2. Explore the new RealCareer™ Geriatric Sensory Impairment Kit, a set of wearable simulators that mimic hearing impairment, arthritis and hand tremors
  3. See the new Birth Process Kit, which includes six large, lifelike models that depict each stage of the birthing process
  4. Get a SNEAK PEEK at our one-of-a-kind animal science and plant science models, including detailed animal and stomach models and a plant science kit (available in 2017)
  5. Try virtual reality welding with the guideWELD® VR welding simulator
  6. Conduct live welding with the guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system

guideweld

Additional ways you can interact with Realityworks at VISION 2016 include:

  • Attend the “Baby Basics and Best Practices” pre-conference workshop we are co-hosting with the National Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences on November 30
  • Join us at the NATFACS Awards Reception, ACTEBabywhere
    we’ll be raffling off a new
    RealCare Baby 3 infant simulator
  • Attend the “Create Student Engagement Through Experiential Learning Tools” pre-conference workshop we are is co-hosting with the National Association of Agriculture Educators on November 30, where we’ll be raffling off one of our NEW animal science models
  • Attend the Health Occupations Student Association (HOSA) Luncheon we are co-hosting with HOSA on December 1, where we’ll be raffling off a RealCare™ Geriatric Simulator and sharing more details on our new experiential learning tools for health sciences
  • Share your selfie for a chance to win! tweet a selfie with your favorite Realityworks product in our booth and tag us @Realityworksinc and the show #VISION16 for your chance to win a Realityworks mug!

You can still register for ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference online by clicking here. We hope to see you there!

Welding Education in the 21st Century: Engaging Today’s Students in a Growing Career Path

In July 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics reported the need for 379,000 manufacturing positions – an increase of more than 280 percent since 2008.1 Industry leaders report that these job openings will continue to grow; according to the American Welding Society, there will be a need for over 400,000 welders by the year 2025.2 In the next decade alone, the Manufacturing Institute predicts a need for nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs.3 As the nation’s workers and infrastructure age, demand for qualified workers in the manufacturing industry will continue to grow.

glimpseWhile manufacturing job openings grow, however, employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill them. In fact, the number of open manufacturing positions is at its highest point in 15 years, but the rate of hiring has only increased by 36 percent since 2008.⁴ The nation is facing a significant skills gap, one that the Manufacturing Institute predicts could result in nearly 2 million of the industry’s anticipated job openings going unfilled.⁵

Technology can play a powerful role in the engagement of today’s students in these vital career paths. After all, 21st Century Learning is a technology-based learning style; it is second nature for today’s process-oriented, connected and media-driven students to use technology to communicate, collaborate and create. Brick-and-mortar school buildings may have remained relatively the same over the past century, but the advancement of technology means the tools available to instructors are completely different.

How educators use technology is key in equipping students with the skills the workforce needs to remain globally competitive, from manufacturing and welding and beyond – and Career and Technical Education (CTE) professionals are stepping up. From virtual reality simulation tools to certification programs and student-run businesses, CTE instructors are taking steps to engage today’s 21st century students in these growing career paths and give them hands-on opportunities to learn valuable trades.

Illinois education organization using tools, certifications to teach students industry-specific skills

skillsgapThe Career Education Associates of North Central Illinois (CEANCI) is an Education for Employment (EFE) organization that serves 10 school districts in the Rockford, IL area. It works with educators and industry leaders to help ensure that the 28,000 students in its coverage area (which includes 15 high schools and 19 middle schools) have curriculum, equipment and materials to help them learn targeted, industry-specific skills. As the region encompasses a strong manufacturing industry, one of those skills is welding – a skill that CEANCI System Director Margie Hartfiel says is worth investing in.

“When we look at the programs we fund, we make decisions that are tied directly to labor market information,” said Hartfiel, who has been working in education for 27 years. “Welding is a high-need area, and as our labor market ages, we are finding that the business partners we work closely with are telling us repeatedly that they need these particular skills.”

Industry certifications are one way CEANCI is helping its students learn industry-specific skills. CEANCI currently offers certifications in a variety of CTE pathways, including manufacturing, early childhood, culinary arts and industrial technology – all of which the EFE works with industry representatives to ensure the relevancy of.

In 2014, CEANCI helped 630 students earn certifications; that number grew to 2,303 in 2015 and Hartfiel predicts that this year, over 4,300 students will earn certifications. Support for the initiative is regionwide; area educators and industry representatives recognize the value of a student’s ability to graduate from high school and say, “Yes, I can do this, and I have proven it.”

guideweld Technology is another tool that CEANCI is using to equip students with in-demand welding skills. In 2015, CEANCI approved funding for the guideWELD® VR welding simulator and the guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system. Implemented as a pilot program in the Winnebago and Oregon school districts, the guideWELD VR simulators are used to introduce students to welding in a virtual, spark-free environment, while the guideWELD LIVE systems are used to help students hone live welding skills. CEANCI sees two specific benefits to the implementation of such technology: the ability to save money and the ability to demonstrate learned skills.

Click here to download the full PDF version of this case study and learn how welding education will impact the 21st century classroom.