With their reputation as a leader in composites training flying higher than ever, the team at Advanced Composites Training has trained professionals from almost 40 different countries and has become a world-class subject matter expert to composites technicians in a range of industries. We sat down with Wilson Boynton and Alicia Lawrance to talk tech in composites training, as they merge the timeless technology of composites with new-age virtual reality training in their new venture, AoForge.
What do you think the general public might be surprised to know about this kind of technology and how it is used?
Composite materials technologies have been integrated into nearly every aspect of modern living; from the buildings we live and work in, the vehicles we travel in (automotive, aircraft, marine vessels), the ways in which we practice medicine or provide treatments, to the very ways in which we harness energy. Composite materials create possibilities for designs and applications not otherwise possible with metals, wood, or stone. Such notable projects as the Space Elevator and the Mars Helicopter for example, would not be possible without the use of composite materials technologies making them stronger and lighter than ever before.
AoForge’s VR experience represents an evolution in your field by introducing new technology, further enhancing the training that you already offer. What made you want to run full speed ahead with this new business?
There is a vast gap in the knowledge base and a growing void in the availability of skilled personnel working in the composites industries, especially in the aviation/ aerospace and automotive sectors, and exactly at the time when composite material applications are growing exponentially! Training personnel for composites structures manufacturing processes, maintenance, inspection and repair is complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. It presents health & safety risks to trainees and considerable expense risks to manufacturers if critical repair errors are made when training personnel on ‘real’ components, particularly carbon fiber composite aircraft and automobiles. This need for training is being felt the world over with so many international MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) organizations working with composite structures- new and old, and so many more manufacturers hoping to gain a strong foothold in the industry.
AoForge VR Inc. has created a Virtual Reality platform whereby a Technician or Engineer can be trained in composite technologies (manufacturing, repair, etc.) at any time, anywhere in the world without the limitations of needing a properly equipped facility. All health & safety risks are completely mitigated, eliminating the need for expensive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and if errors are made in training, no expensive material damage is sustained, resulting in zero material waste; just press the ‘Restart’ key and continue! The simulated tools and equipment function exactly the same as if the technician was working in the real-world, and will have the option of one-on-one virtual support and guidance from and experienced AoForge Composites Expert.
What’s next for your team?
ACT – Advanced Composites Training and AoForge VR Inc. are two separate corporate entities but share a very symbiotic relationship as far as product and customer requirements are concerned. ACT has had the honour of providing hands-on composites technologies training services across the globe, to both civilian and military organizations alike, for over 23 years with a 100% placement rate for our graduates.
We have more than 15 specialized courses dedicated to this vast technology and are continuing to develop new training programs, such as our ‘Integrated 4C Program’, which stands for CAD / CAM / CNC and Composite
s Tooling; a unique course not offered by any other training organization that will take a student from concept to creation.
AoForge seeks to provide a more tailored, but still immersive, sensory training experience to our global clientele, with the added benefits of cost and waste reduction, time efficiency, and without the need for considerable health & safety considerations.
It is the combined mission of ACT and AoForge to provide preeminent training services in Composite
s Technologies worldwide, helping to reduce the ever-increasing human resource and skills gap that continues to plague this industry. To this end, ACT has reached out to a number of local composites companies throughout London and South-Western Ontario to host our second “Composites Community Showcase”. This event was first organized and hosted by ACT back in 2016, when we celebrated our 20th anniversary and we hope to establish another such event in Spring of 2020.
Through our continued support of local organizations such as the 3739 Oakbotics (competitive youth robotics) team and our assistance with multiple projects with the students and staff of UWO Engineering and Fanshawe College, we hope to continue to make our voices heard about the endless opportunities of composite industry careers, and the previously untold advantages of an education in this field.