(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College is giving first-semester Automotive Technology students opportunities to learn using virtual reality.
The program began using TRANSFRVR headsets and hand controllers this semester in the Introduction to Automotive Technology class at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Students are prompted to take virtual lessons in how to do an oil change, work with jack stands, and perform other skills in class modules found in the Canvas learning management system.
“It allows students to practice the process without risk of injury,” said George Williams, lead instructor in TSTC’s Automotive Technology program in Waco. “It was something offered to us, and we thought it would be good in engaging students.”
Zack Morris, of Waco, is pursuing an associate degree in the Automotive Technology program at the Waco campus. He became interested in virtual reality through gaming.
While Morris said the program’s virtual reality software could be a little more detailed, he said it is a great start to learn on. He said the software does not allow students to make mistakes, but rather it helps them to perfect their skills before they move through their lessons.
Morris chose to study Automotive Technology because he enjoys working on vehicles and wants to learn more. He said he is familiar with some of the program’s material that he has already encountered. He said his goal is to graduate from TSTC as a better automotive mechanic.
Nathan Harrison, of Abilene, is pursuing an associate degree in the Automotive Technology program at the Waco campus. He became interested in virtual reality about five years ago and has kept up with its development.
“It’s really awesome that this technology has made it into the workforce,” Harrison said. “I think it’s really nice to have that experience doing it without any risks.”
Williams said virtual reality sessions can last up to a half-hour. Lab assistants are present with students to make sure they do not experience discomfort while using the equipment.
Students can also do lessons on virtual reality equipment at the Waco campus’ Learning Resource Center.
Williams said he can see virtual reality lessons being used in the program’s electrical classes in the future.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.