Butler Uses State-of-the-Art Technology to Teach
Automotive Collision Repair Program Uses New Technology to Train Students.
When automotive student Dieter Masters of Rosalia uses a simulated environment in class, he feels confident. Since he started using the software two months ago, he raised his score by more than 20 points. This in turn boosted his confidence. This fall, Butler Community College’s Automotive Collison Repair program introduced state-of-the-art technology in class. This software from VirtualPaint Products replicates painting a vehicle. Other students have had similar results to Masters. Using this equipment saves money in paint, decreases time in the lab and – most of all – increases confidence.
“The machine teaches you good habits,” Masters said. “It really helps with your distance and speed.”
Each student in the class takes a turn at the wand and pretends to spray. Both the colors that appear on the vehicle on the enlarged screen and the hissing sound, which correlates to the real spray gun, make the experience seem real. Once the student is finished, he/she is given a score. The amount of paint that is placed on the vehicle is measured, and a diagram of the painted vehicle is displayed on a large screen. When the area is colored blue, this means the person put too little paint on that location of the vehicle. This would mean he/she would have to repaint that location. Not a big deal. This would not cost the shop or the owner any extra money. If the areas show green, it’s perfect. Good to go. The owner and the manager would be pleased. But black and red areas would have to be sanded and redone. Black means dripping paint, while red means too much paint. Both areas lower the student’s score and would ultimately lead to extra time, supplies and effort in the shop.
“This is a wonderful way for our students to learn,” said Automotive Collision Instructor Donnie Smith. “This tool helps the students understand how to paint a vehicle.”
Smith guides each student as he/she maneuvers the simulated spray gun. Students also get scores from the software. So far, the students’ scores in Smith’s class have ranged from a 16 to a 96. A score of 87 means the student is an expert.
“It shows us the mistakes we wouldn’t be able to tell we made until the car was dry,” said Nick Butler of Arkansas City. “It shows us the correct angles. It’s improved us a lot.”
The students said the simulated program provides them with great practice. Because of this training, they feel they can go into the paint booth with confidence.
“It’s state-of-the-art,” said Brody Ryan of El Dorado. “It helps us with finding problems that we are having.”
Smith sees a difference in technique after the students have used this machine.
“They understand when they need to go faster or when they need to slack off of paint,” Smith said. “It provides an exciting opportunity for me to interact with the class in a fun and teachable way.”