City College Plymouth Opens New Futuristic Augmented Reality Welding Suite

In a huge step towards its vision to become a digital-first learning centre of choice, City College Plymouth has opened a state-of-the-art Augmented Reality Welding Suite. This fantastic new suite utilises innovative augmented reality (AR) software and closely aligns with the College’s goals to provide a reimagined way of learning through the use of technology.

This AR suite will see students using tools and devices that interact with one another and the accompanying headset. Creating a simulation in the real world environment around them, students will be able to practise their welding and construction skills in a seamless, efficient, and cost-effective manner. The new technology will also hopefully appeal to the smartphone generation that has grown up with augmented reality at their fingertips thanks to games such as Pokemon Go.

Providing deep learning in the key sectors of marine, defence, and construction, this technologically advanced facility will enable trainees to learn modern manufacturing techniques in a digitalised manner. Mostly supporting trainee welders, this new welding suite will also provide a place for more experienced welders to advance their existing skills. Alongside this, the facilities will also support fabricators, pipe fitters, and product and marine engineers to develop their abilities, helping to support the community by responding to demand in these industries.

The College, whose strategic vision for the next ten years includes a shift to a digital-savvy way of teaching and training, believes that the futuristic welding suite will offer students a superior level of training through the use of its augmented reality. The AR technology will also drastically reduce the amount of materials needed during training by at least 50% and can speed up the length of time students take to learn new skills, helping to keep the costs of learning low and therefore more accessible.

The technology also supports the College’s aims of reducing its carbon footprint and contributing to the city’s green agenda.

In order to bring this new suite to fruition, the College was awarded £350,000 by the Heart of the South West Partnership’s Getting Building Fund, which supports projects such as this which can stimulate jobs and support economic recovery.

Jackie Grubb, Chief Executive, said: “City College Plymouth is immensely proud to launch our new Augmented Reality Welding Suite this year.

“Helping to simultaneously shape the future of our College and the city, our investment in this cutting-edge facility will allow apprentices and students across multiple disciplines to learn in a digital-first environment and capitalise on today’s technology to experience a seamless route to success.

“Offering local employers the ability to train their apprentices through this innovative technology will greatly reduce costs and create further opportunity for growth in these key industries.”

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The HotSW LEP’s Getting Building Fund aims to support ready-to-go projects that will deliver new jobs and contribute to our area’s post-COVID recovery. We’re delighted to have supported the new Augmented Reality Welding Suite at City College Plymouth with £350,000 from the fund. This futuristic digital suite will provide students with fantastic hands-on experience in a simulated environment, ensuring they are equipped with the right skills to support local business needs.”

The Augmented Reality Welding Suite will support many students and apprentices each year. Through its extensive Apprenticeship and short course provision, the College encourages employers of all sizes to find out how this exciting new facility can support their business.