Aviation Maintenance Technology program will be first to incorporate virtual reality painting

The soon-to-launch Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program operated jointly by Marshall University and Mountwest Community & Technical College in Huntington, W.Va., will be the first Part 147 school in the United States to use a virtual reality system to meet FAA training requirements for aviation paint and coating labs.

In early July, the program received the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to deploy the new system that simulates an aviation paint shop environment and allows instructors greater ability to simulate diverse painting scenarios and precisely measure students’ abilities.

As with all instructional aides and equipment for aviation training, the virtual 3D paint system will be evaluated during the FAA design performance phase of Marshall’s certification to ensure it meets federal requirements.

The 3D system provides a versatile platform for instructors to measure student performance, including such metrics as millimeters of paint thickness, cost of materials used, gun distance, overspray and angle in relation to the parts being painted. Manufactured by VirtualPaint Products of Cedar Falls, Iowa, it is the same training system used by the U.S. Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command at facilities including Hill Air Force Base in Utah as well as the U.S. Coast Guard’s Aviation Technical Training Center in North Carolina.

“This innovative, virtual-reality system will save our program considerable money by eliminating the need for consumables such as paint and personal protective gear while reducing setup and cleanup time,” said Jim Smith, interim director of the Marshall/Mountwest AMT program.

“The VirtualPaint team is excited for the opportunity to partner with Marshall and Mountwest to implement virtual reality spray finishing simulation technology into their aviation educational programs,” said Jeremiah Treloar, CEO of VirtualPaint Products. “Through this collaboration between software developers and educators, we will deliver an engaging, hands-on learning experience that prepares students to advance into successful careers in the aerospace industry.”

Located at Huntington Tri-State Airport, the AMT program’s inaugural class is scheduled to begin in January 2022, pending final approval by the Higher Learning Commission. The program is administered by Marshall’s Robert C. Byrd Institute and is branch of the university’s Division of Aviation, which also includes the Bill Noe Flight School at Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va., which will launch this August.
– July 19, 2021

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