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New Welding, Fabricating Equipment at GOCAT

WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Officials at Missouri State University-West Plains recently purchased new welding and fabricating equipment for the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT).

Funds from a Delta Regional Authority rural workforce grant awarded in December 2019 were used to purchase a VRTEX 360 virtual reality welding training simulator and Torchmate CNC plasma cutting table, as well as three new lathes, officials said.

The equipment will be used to train students in advanced welding and machine fabrication. Both are essential programs that provide the hands-on training experiences needed to meet a critical workforce shortage in the manufacturing industry in south-central Missouri, university officials said.

University officials purchased the equipment through the Lincoln Electric LEEPS program to provide manufacturing certifications from the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). Missouri State-West Plains is a certified school with NC3.

“These pieces of equipment are the first of several we are planning to secure that are built to interact with current equipment in the Fab Lab to simulate a manufacturing environment,” said Sheila Barton, director of workforce programs at Missouri State-West Plains.

“The partnership with Lincoln Electric and NC3 provides us with a unique opportunity to offer a complete suite of portable, stackable national certifications,” she added.

The VRTEX 360 simulator creates a lifelike stage with realistic welding sounds, sparks, grinding and cooling scenarios, Barton said. It is capable of tracking and scoring key welding parameters for consistent feedback and replay training. 

The Torchmate cutting tables have a touch-based interface for hands-on-training and is integrated with CAD and CAM software, Ethernet connectivity, and digital torch height control.

Parts machined on the table can be welded and finished, allowing students to put multiple machine operating skills together, she explained.

For more information about the new equipment or the university’s advanced welding and machine fabrication programs, contact the GOCAT office at (417) 255-7784 or Roy Crouch, education and outreach specialist, at (417) 255-7785 or