Edutainment one way to catch the young engineer

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Tig WelderTo meet the demand for skilled workers, a new and innovative approach is needed to attract young people into vocational careers. One solution is to introduce gaming simulations to students before they leave school.

Gaming and school work are not two activities you usually associate together – but gaming is increasingly making a presence in schools as the new way to engage and educate.

Dubbed "edutainment" – combining education and entertainment – the TIG Welder – Welding Wall of Death, is a welding simulation which teaches and inspires but is also fun.

The game was developed by Competenz, the industry training organisation for the manufacturing and engineering sector, and is available as a flash and an iPhone-app.

It supports the bid to increase the supply of tradespeople by exposing students to what a career in the trade of welding entails.

In the game, players simulate a series of TIG (tungsten inert gas) welds with the aim to join together a steel wall, strong enough to protect from a deadly swinging demolition ball.

A quiz is embedded throughout the game, ensuring students learn as they play.

The game is scored on an accuracy basis and requires a fair amount of skill to weld to a standard worthy of a high score.

Welding is one of the key trades experiencing skill shortages. Currently 444 welding apprentices are in training, but industry it needs 1,412 more welders in the next two years.

Becoming trade qualified takes up to four years, so supply and demand is looking at a sizeable imbalance.

The TIG Welder – Welding Wall of Death is set to roll out in schools next year and online late October, and not only promotes trade careers but also educates students about key welding concepts relevant to their course curriculum.

Competenz supports students’ learning through the Tools4Work mechanical engineering resources it produces.

Tools4Work is a catalyst to prepare students for a rewarding and productive career in industry.

Students are taught valuable lessons by breaking the ‘rules’ of the simulation.

For instance, failure to put your helmet’s visor down results in the message "you have been blinded" – a relevant health and safety concern for a welder in a real situation.

The aim of the game is to capture the imagination of the young and to increase the amount of ‘fresh blood’ entering into training. Competenz has plans for more games.

If you are interested in playing the Welding Wall of Death:

Visit: www.competenz.org.nz

Find: The Guild – Competenz Alumni Group on Facebook

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