EWI and RealWeld committed to accelerating the training of 25,000 welders across the United States in three years by developing four new augmented reality training modules for welding procedures and providing a train the trainer curriculum for key partner organizations implementing these modules. These modules will be customized for key industries, such as shipbuilding, heavy equipment, oil and gas, automotive, and aerospace, with a specific focus on Mig and Stick welding for heavy manufacturing, Tig welding for aerospace, and Pipe welding for the energy industry. These modules will use augmented reality technology to enable the individual trained to emulate the welding style of a master welder in the specific industry that particular module is developed for. Each training module will take between two and twenty-four months to complete, depending on the industry. EWI and RealWeld will develop a digital badge for each module and work with partner organizations, including the American Welding Society, to ensure that these digital badges are recognized as industry certifications.
EWI and RealWeld will work with key partners in the welding ecosystem and mobilize them to achieve accelerated learning outcomes for 25,000 welders in a variety of industry sectors. In partnership with the Naval Science Research Program, they will develop a National Maritime Welding Training program for ship building that improves the quality of welder education and establishes growth opportunities for welders through a 'stackable' certificate program. In partnership with the Ohio Strategic Training Center, they will develop a mobile classroom pilot in rural Appalachia focused on Pipe welding for the oil and gas sector. These two partnerships are expected to reach approximately 5,000 welders with augmented reality training modules by 2014.
EWI and RealWeld will reach an additional 20,000 welders with training by adding and expanding partnerships within their networks of 200 community colleges, career centers, and non-profits. In addition, the American Welding Society (AWS) will partner to support standards development and certification of welders, Weld-Ed will partner to support curriculum best practices and validation of teaching method effectiveness, and The Manufacturing Institute (TMI) will provide support through industry engagement in portable credentialing and workforce preparedness. EWI and RealWeld will also advise and guide these partners on portable credentialing best practices and ways to integrate digital badges (based on Mozilla's Open Badge technology) in an online database of portable welding credentials, with the goal of publishing the portable credentials of 5,000 trained welders.
Development of National Maritime Welding Training Program for Ship Builders (December 2014)
Pilot with Ohio Strategic Training Center focused on Pipe Welders (June 2014)
Outreach and Technology Demonstration to 200 community colleges and career centers (Ongoing)
Recruitment of four additional regional partners (June 2014)
Development of industry-specific training curricula (December 2014)
Secure Funding for Online Database Development (August 2014)
Ongoing Training and Evaluation of Program (August 2015)
Publish Portable Credentials of 5,000 Welders (August 2015)
From shipbuilding to aerospace and energy, there is a critical shortage of welders across the United States. More than 400,000 new or replacement workers are needed by 2019 to address the existing demand and imminent retirements in the workforce. According to the National Skills Panel, at least 30,000 new welders must enter the workforce each year to keep up with demand and offset retirements. According to a 2010 Weld-Ed report, these jobs include materials engineers, engineering technicians, welders, cutters, solderers, brazers, machine setters, operators, inspectors, testers, and sorters. This shortage stems from a number of issues including quality and variability of the current training regime, high costs for employer retraining, and a patchwork of fragmented certifications systems that prevent worker mobility among industries.
EWI is a not-for-profit organization whose business is improving manufacturing competitiveness through innovation and new technology development. RealWeld Systems, Inc., a spin-out of EWI established in 2013, provides the only augmented reality welder training solution on the market that has the ability to train welders better, faster, and cheaper. EWI and RealWeld have experience leveraging new technology platforms to accelerate welder training and support training that is high quality, consistent, customizable, and measurable. Using innovative technologies like augmented reality technology, they are able to help welders increase accuracy and strengthen skills. Strategies like gamification and competitive learning which integrate scoring into the learning process allow for measurement to track results and ensure quality and consistency.
In close collaboration and coordination with the welding ecosystem, EWI and Real Weld seek to address critical welder shortages by infusing the latest technologies into U.S. training environments and throughout the network of certifying organizations. EWI brings a 28-year reputation of collaborative innovation and a network of partnerships with industry from customers, like GE, to equipment providers, like Praxair. While in the very early stages of outreach, to date, more than 50 community colleges and career centers have been introduced to the RealWeld Trainer with more than 1,200 individuals experiencing its approach to welding instruction.
While attending CGI America in 2012, EWI was inspired by the talent, expertise and bias for action displayed in the manufacturing work group and the beginnings of the current welder training commitment was born.