Inside a darkened classroom in Mokena, Ill., a student lowers a face shield and braces a MIG torch above a small podium. The class hears the sounds of electric arcs hissing, while they size up the incoming weld as part of a contest to see who has the best “golden arm.” Photo: Tudor Van Hampton / ENR A pipefitter apprentice at Local 597 performs MIG welding in the virtual world. In a few seconds, the exercise is over, yet no sparks, heat or fumes—no real welding—actually happened here. It was all performed in a simulated world, a Guitar Hero for
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.