While strolling around at Performance World, I bumped into John Edwards of Dream Machines (John was the Builder of the Year for 2010). As we glanced around the show, we noticed a bit of a crowd gathered over at the Lincoln Welders booth. ‘Sheep Mode’ kicked in and we went to check out whatever it was that was so exciting… turns out it was a video game type welding simulator that Lincoln brings to shows and even shops for training in MIG welding.
A welding helmet houses virtual reality goggles, so that when you drop the helmet as if to start welding, you see a virtual landscape of a job site. There are TV screens hooked up so that passersby can see what you’re seeing. John and I decided that a Weld-Off was in order, just like the good old days.
I decided to kick off the show, and after John mentioned to the Lincoln guy in charge of the simulator that I had never welded before, he put the helmet on for me. Nice touch. As you pick up the welding gun, it appears as if floating on the screen. There is a coupon (two pieces of “steel” set up at 90 degrees) in real life, held on a sort of arm, and you have to “weld” the pieces together. To give you a bit of a guide, there are some indicators on-screen which tell you if you’re in the right range in terms of how far away you are from the material and your angle. This was especially helpful since I have “never welded before”. On my second run, John thought he would be a wise guy and hold my cable while I was welding… turns out that was my winning pass!
I’d like to thank John for the challenge, and offer some consolation: this was a video game, after all, and I hear that video games are difficult for the older generation to keep track of. It’s also not representative of the work John does in real life – he’s a top-notch fabricator, as the Builder of the Year title supports.