Memorial students talk about real world experience, industry access available with new VR technology

Published 12:20 am Thursday, March 28, 2024

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Memorial High School senior Jaylon Reed is no stranger to the craft of welding.

As a student in the school’s career and technology education welding program, Reed understands what it may be like for those just getting into the course. They may be scared to go into the shop because sparks are flying from other students welding, he said.

But with this week’s donation from Bechtel of virtual reality learning equipment for the program, the apprehension may be lessened.

Memorial High School Career and Technology Education students listen to information on careers. (Mary Meaux/The News)

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Reed said many students have experienced virtual reality, and the new equipment gives students opportunities to progress in other ways. And, on days they are not able to go into the shop, they can still have training.

Bechtel’s donation includes an Augmented Reality Welding System, which simulates multiple welding processes and blends real-world and computer generated images into a “unique, augmented reality environment.”

The system also includes teacher software and gives the teacher real-time feedback on users’ technique, according to product information.

Bechtel knows the need for craft professionals in the growing LNG industry.

Reed also knows the importance of the craft.

When he crosses the stage at graduation in a few short months, he will also have a level II welding certificate. He also possesses his Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification and will take a welding test in a few weeks.

Byron Prince, workforce development manager at Bechtel, addresses students at Memorial High School. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Reed wants to take his skills and eventually open his own welding company and give back to the community.

Fellow welding student and senior Ricardo Depaz said the equipment donation is a great opportunity for younger students who may get nervous around the sparks.

This, he said, gives them the opportunities to learn new things and get out into the workforce.

Depaz has a solid background in crafts from the program and hopes to receive a scholarship for process operator and study while working in the industry.

The students were gathered Wednesday in the lobby of the CTE building for a close look at the equipment and a chance to meet Bechtel team members and learn of the career opportunities ahead of them.

Welding instructor Vandie Smith said educators need to prepare students for a world no one has yet lived in.

“Obviously with all the technology that we have, this is the way that the world is moving,” Smith said. “You guys have given our students an opportunity to be ahead of the curve and to work in the future of the world.”