San Benito CISD’s Auto Body students learn how to master new virtual paint machine

SAN BENITO — With it’s virtual helmet, simulator tower, monitor and handheld spray gun it may look like a video game, but it’s actually a virtual spray paint machine.

Career and Technical Education Automotive Collision Teacher Efrain Villarreal, 60, will begin teaching his students how to use the district’s new $28,000 machine this month.

According to Villarreal, the machine will provide a valuable training experience for students that will also reduce material waste.

“It’s really exciting and fun to learn because it helps students start getting the hang of spraying without spraying paint,” he said.

Students can practice painting a variety of areas on a vehicle while the machine tracks and identifies painting defects such as runs sags, orange peel dry spray or too much paint in one area.

Villarreal said the ultimate test will be spraying real paint onto a car.

“This machine gives students a stepping stone to the reality,” he explained. “It’s something you can practice with, and when you get the real spray gun, panel and paint, students will go back and retrieve that information from the training and put in practice on the real project.”

Villarreal said he thinks the machine showcases “fantastic new technology.”

“Things change, technology changes, parts and vehicles change so we never stop learninglike in every other field,” Villarreal said. “And this business is booming because it’s not a multi-million dollar industry. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry.”