Vinita FFA wins grant to purchase virtual welding equipment

Welding is a skill that will likely never go away, but it does evolve with technology. Students in our FFA program are already reaping the benefits of new virtual welding technology our FFA chapter earned via a grant. 

As is stated in this press release, Vinita FFA was one of nine FFA chapters in eastern Oklahoma to receive a share of more than $25,000 as recipients of this year’s American Electric Power Foundation FFA STEM After-School grants.

The AEP Foundation is the charitable arm of American Electric Power, parent company of Tulsa-based electric provider, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO). The FFA STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) grant program is made possible through a partnership between PSO and the Oklahoma FFA Foundation.

Sophomore Zach Millarr helped download the programs and get everything set up for his fellow students to start using the guideWeld VR equipment, which is what we purchased with the grant money. 

“I saw it as an opportunity to teach other students about welding before they go into the actual shop,” Zach said. 

The program allows students to “weld” using a computer program. They can learn different techniques, increase speed, and learn appropriate safety measures. 

“(The program) garages your weld arc, your accuracy, and how fast you are,” Zach said. “If you can perfect your welds before going into the actual shop, you will know how to better budget your materials.” 

Our sponsor, Carolyn Piguet, agreed that the new equipment was a great asset to our FFA. 

 “Some kids were apprehensive about trying welding, and this lets them try it without sparks or fire,” she said. “This is a great learning tool.” 

Being able to “try out” a career is a wonderful way for our team members to discover a potential new career! 

“It can give us insight into a new career and learn enough to see if we like it,” Zach said. “It can also help improve our job opportunities for anyone who wants to go into welding.” 

The equipment can have other applications, as well. For example, Zach wants to become an electrician, and the virtual welding program teaches him how to solder.