b'Online training offers an alternative, as well as complementary, way to learn machining and programming.By Alan RichterE ven before the COVID-19 pandemic, on-line, or virtual, machinist training was well established. But demand grew as in-person instruction was restricted, and interest will continue to flourish after herd immunity is achieved.For the past decade, Mazak Corp. has of-fered online, on-demand training in addition to instructor-led courses at its training centerProgramming instructor Patrick Reynold conducts a remote and more customized training at customer fa- training course at Mazaks training center in Florence, cilities. When the coronavirus reared its ugly,Kentucky.spiked head in March 2020, all instructor-led courses went online until October, said Royhad no problem reaching the limit because Gentry, national training manager for the Flor- there is no difference in taking them remotely ence, Kentucky-based machine tool builder.or in person. In addition to having a PC, he The percentage shifted to about 50% earlierrecommends that remote students have two this year, and he expects about 30% of stu- monitors: one to show the control simulator dents to remain online for the instructor-ledand one to watch the instructor.courses by summer. On the flip side, end users are more reluc-People who still dont want to travel cantant to have their maintenance personnel par-take the online instructor-led classes, he said,ticipate online because they feel that in-per-but some people want that hands-on, face-to- son, hands-on training is more beneficial if not face interaction, and we have that too. required, he said. Mazak offers online, instruc-Gentry predicts that in the near future,tor-led maintenance classes, but some learn-Mazak will offer hybrid classes in which someing activities obviously cant be performed re-students receive instruction at the trainingmotely, such as disassembling a turret.center and some students study remotely.You have to be in the training center to do Regardless of where students are, class sizesthat, Gentry said. What we do as the next have a hard limit of eight people. best thing is take a headset out to a unit, and We like to keep it around six, he said. Weour instructor then will show the parts that are limit class size because the more people youcoming apart. They show them how to do it get in, people become less likely to partici- so the students can see it remotely, but they pate, and you usually have one person whocant touch it.steps up and does everything. But then theWith online education, besides saving the rest kind of suffer as a result. travel, lodging and feeding expenses asso-Gentry said virtual programming classesciated with sending a worker to the training 24JUNE 2021 Training.indd 24 5/14/21 2:05 PM'