CHICAGO - For the month of October 2018, Greater West Town Community Development Project’s Woodworker Training Program (GWTP) is hosting a state-of-the-art, augmented reality (AR) manufacturing training system.
 
The Wood-Ed Table is on loan from its designer and manufacturer Mimbus.  Mimbus, a leader in vocational training solutions, got its start in Toulouse France. The Wood-Ed Table is an AR solution that has been designed to properly train users on machinery in a safe environment.
 
Wood-Ed can convincingly mimic the behavior of a table saw, band saw, shaper, or planer.  Students don special eyewear and body tracking systems while moving boards through the fabrication exercises. The system uses a sophisticated, repetitive training regimen to help students advance toward professional levels of machine operation. 
 
Mimbus opened its U.S. headquarters in Chicago in 2018 and sees the Chicago area as a key center of vocational training to support the alleviation of manufacturing, carpentry, and construction labor shortages. Taurus Craco, a North American distributor for Mimbus, is underwriting the demo program in the Chicagoland area in conjunction with Mimbus
 
During the demonstration period, GWTP’s Woodworker Training Program students and an employer-partner Program Advisory Committee are learning and experiencing directly how the Wood-Ed Table can teach woodworking machinery operation in a virtual, safe, and dust-free environment. This exciting new technology can lead to lowered training costs, fewer accidental injuries, shorter learning duration, and can make vocational training more attractive for a younger generation, often referred to as “digital natives.” 
 
Ahead of a Wood-Ed Table orientation with representatives from Mimbus, GWTP’s Lead Woodworking Technical Instructor, Doug Rappe, expressed his excitement about this opportunity for the Program’s students.
 
“I’m interested in testing this technology in a live education setting," says Rappe,  "because I think that it will be a really powerful tool to give us more repetitive practice on machines, and the freedom to safely allow more unsupervised practice for our students.” Rappe won the Wooden Globe Educator of the Year Award in 2014.
 
The loan of Mimbus' Wood-Ed technology provides a truly novel opportunity for GWTP’s Woodworking students, who are drawn from low-income, primarily minority communities for the woodworking vocational training program. They train five days per week over a 15-week period to prepare for careers in the high-demand manufacturing industry. 
 
With the shortage of skilled labor in all manufacturing industries, GWTP’s Woodworker Training Program is giving unemployed and underemployed residents of Chicago’s West Side the necessary basic education, technical skills training, and career placement services, so that these communities residents can fill that shortage and hit the ground running in new manufacturing careers.  
 
GWTP’s Woodworkers Training Program is a vocational training program that prepares participants for a wide range of skilled occupations in the wood products and solid surface manufacturing industry. Since 1993, the program has graduated more than 850 trainees.
 
Through GWTP placement services, graduates have gone into full time, training-related, non-subsidized employment. The mission of Greater West Town Community Development Project is to build a community-based response to expanding educational and economic opportunities for the disadvantaged residents of the Greater West Town communities. 
 
It seeks to develop programs that can serve as practical, model solutions to problems which limit job opportunities for neighborhood residents and to link the employment and training of the neighborhood workforce with local economic development efforts and the needs of small and mid-sized employers.
 
For more information contact Michael Cotter, Assistant Director of Development & Communications, 
Greater West Town Community Development Project. Phone: 312-432-9595. mcotter@gwtp.edu  Woodworking Training at GWTP
 
 

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