Industry Vetted Remote Learning Solutions for Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Students.

With the rapidly changing remote learning requirements, more educational institutes are looking for cost-effective options for quality online resources to replace textbooks, enhance lectures, and provide learning tools that appeal to the “YouTube” generation.

“While most engineering courses are calculation- or design-intensive, introductory manufacturing courses tend to be primarily information-driven. Covering this content through traditional lecturing often fails to fully engage student interest, motivation, and learning potential.”

Josh Gargac – Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Mount Union.

THORS eLearning Solutions meets these challenges by providing:

  • Interactive, cloud-based learning solutions for manufacturing industry employees and students.
  • Industry-specific content that explains different manufacturing processes and materials with a workflow that mirrors real manufacturing methods.
  • Courses that are developed by combining experiential industry knowledge with theoretical insight and are presented in a user-friendly format complete with graphics, animations, and interactives.

Our courses are recognized and valued by our customers, including fortune 500 companies such as General Motors, Ford Motor Company, FCA, Mercedes Benz, Caterpillar Inc., Cummins, Navistar, Rolls Royce, as well as, other top companies and educational institutions worldwide.

We have found that many professors at various institutions are addressing the following challenges with success using THORS Solutions:

Reducing the cost of textbooks:

THORS courses are extremely complementary to the courses taught in the universities and can provide a cost-effective alternative to costly textbooks.

“It certainly makes it easier to teach manufacturing science, it’s impossible to be an expert in every type of manufacturing. The best part about THORS is you get content from vetted industry experts in a broad area of subjects including castings, metal forming and cutting, forging, and polymer work.”

Josh Gargac – Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Mount Union.

Enhancing Lectures:

When THORS assignments are giving before a lecture, students are prepared with a baseline comprehension of terminology, understanding, and application of various manufacturing processes and products.

“I would tell my colleagues that THORS is a great enhancement of the material they’re already covering. And with THORS, students are able to see the products and the processes behind them. I would highly recommend THORS to anybody who is looking for materials that are of high quality on these topics.  From a technical standpoint, they are excellent and provide instruction to the students that I don’t have time to create. The animations are excellent, and onboarding exercises are integrated into the modules as you go.  There is just no way you can create it yourself. I want to give the students an almost hands-on experience, even in an online environment, and it is great we can now do that with THORS.  I think the students really appreciate that.”

Michael Robinson – Manufacturing & STEM Assistant Professor, Butler County Community College.

Increasing Lab Time (Flipping the classroom):

THORS allows individuals to learn manufacturing fundamentals in self-paced online assignment providing for more interactive lectures and increased time for application of the subject matter

“THORS allowed for a flipped classroom where the content was delivered to the students outside the classroom, scheduled class meetings could be spent on additional hands-on activities. This allowed four weeks of lecture to be replaced with four fabrication lab exercises.”

Josh Gargac – Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Mount Union

Bring Manufacturing Processes to Life:

The manufacturing process is difficult at best to describe in a 2D manner. Many logistical issues also prevent the availability of in-person plant tours and even in those cases much of what is viewed in not easily explained. With the use of THORS crossed sectioned animations, videos, and interactives, in many cases, the learner can gain a better understanding of the process than they would standing in front of a machine.

“For me, it brings to my student’s real-world examples of the types of training that takes place with well done and realistic videos and or simulations with culminates in learning and then a THORS certificate, it just complements the way students like to learn today.”

Rob Speckert – Professor Department of Engineering Technology, Miami University

Using Competency-Based Embedded Preexisting Tests and Quizzes:

Finding time to locate meaningful related content and then creating the associated worksheets, tests and quizzes can be very difficult and time-consuming.

“THORS has competency-based examinations, pretests and post examinations included within each course. As an instructor, it saves me considerable time.  Not that I mind giving tests, but it’s superior because its integrated with the material and comes up at the right time within the material.  It really makes it easy for the students to learn. That is a really big plus for me. It’s not just a bunch of videos – it has competency-based activity going on throughout it which I think is a real plus.”

Michael Robinson – Manufacturing & STEM Assistant Professor, Butler County Community College.

Finding High Quality, In-depth Information that is Used and Recognized in Industry:

Students receive a THORS certificate upon completing each course. These certificates are valued by our customers worldwide.

“First, I think THORS has credibility. I promote it before I have my students take the THORS courses and explain how THORS came about and how it serves industry and list some of the major THORS clients, like GM, to my students. I let them know this is the type of learning they use an industry. I like how things flow in each module the details in the industry-based content that it presents.”

Rob Speckert – Professor Department of Engineering Technology, Miami University

Planning for the Further Impact of COVID-19 and Remote Teaching Strategies:

With today’s everchanging environment educators need to develop plans for either distance learning, face to face learning or some mixture of both.

“Thank God we had THORS in the spring when we had to switch quickly over to remote instruction.  There’s no way you can develop that quality of material in such a short amount of time. You have to have quality material available and ready to go when remote learning is mandated. It has to be “in the can” and ready to deploy.  The THORS program meets that challenge well.

When it comes to remote instruction, students don’t want to sit there and just read. They like the interaction and that’s what I like about THORS.  It’s not a replacement for face-to-face instruction, but it’s an enhancement beyond having students just reading PowerPoint slides or watching videos.”

Michael Robinson – Manufacturing & STEM Assistant Professor, Butler County Community College

We are interested in speaking with you! See how THORS can aid with your company or learning institution in meeting your future training needs.


Training Perspective: Looking Back to Look Ahead

Companies are constantly reviewing ways to reduce costs and keep positive margins. During times of economic recession, external pressures from competitors as well as internal pressures with shareholders can be mixed with concerns of shrinking revenue and volatile markets. As a result, employee training is commonly an area that receives budget cuts.

Looking back at the Great Recession of 2007-2009, companies can learn some valuable lessons that can be applied to the potential future state of the market. With the growing consensus from the IMF as well as Industry experts such as Harvard Professor of Economics Kenneth Rogoff that the current situation is developing into a global recession.  It may be surprising to find that continuous training is still valuable in today’s uncertain economy.

ROI Value

In 2013, researchers from the University of South Carolina studied 359 companies and the level of training done prior, during, and after the Great Recession. The researchers organized these companies into three groups based on the level of focus on training that they offered to their employees: high, medium, and low levels.

In the prior-recession studies, the researchers found that companies with a high level of focus on training created human capital, which is the knowledge, skills, and value of the workforce. Additionally, when compared to the other two groups, these companies had consistently higher levels of productivity and reduced turnover.

High Level of Focus on Training = Greater Human Capital

During the recession, companies with a high level of focus on training mitigated some of the losses from the recession better than the companies with a medium or low focus on training. 

The study attributed this to the creation of human capital: more efficient and productive workers.

The study in 2013 also looked at the recovery efforts of the companies after the recession. The researchers found that companies who kept their training efforts as a high level of focus during the recession rebounded faster compared to companies with a medium or low focus on training efforts. These high-focus companies returned to at least the pre-recession revenue and at times higher on average by 2009. In comparison, the companies with a low level of focus on training took, on average, two additional years to recover.

High level of Focus on Training = Faster Post-Recession Rebound

The researchers concluded with the study that a high level of focus on training and development might be one of the most valuable tools in recovering after an economic downturn.  

What Training Really Costs

In a recession, employees are concerned about their jobs. The University of South Carolina study agrees with a Deloitte & Touche study on “Employee training in difficult economic times.” When a company makes cuts to its training program, it sends “the message to its employees that it considers their professional development to be unimportant.”  This is an attributing factor to lower employee morale and lower productivity as well as increased turnover.

With the potential of increased turnover due to the cuts in training, the costs associated with replacing those employees needs to be considered when compared to the costs of the training budget. Costs, “including interviewing, hiring, training, reduced productivity, lost opportunity costs, etc.” could amount to the following percentages: 

  • Entry-level employees, 30-50% of their annual salary
  • Mid-level employees, 150% of their annual salary
  • High-level employees, 400% of their annual salary

Training is commonly considered an unnecessary expense during a recession, but research suggests that recovery can occur more rapidly, and the return on investment of training can shine during these times.

Utilizing training through this time, especially on-line learning that focuses on the manufacturing industry, could help to improve your human capital and position your company for success in recovery.

We want to hear from you! Let’s discuss how THORS can be a resource in your training operations.


Lack of GD&T Knowledge Can Impact Your Bidding Process

Read the first part of our GD&T Blog “3 Factors that Affect Understanding

As a complex standard, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) can lead to reading and interpreting errors. Users who do not have the prerequisite print reading knowledge and ability to see in 2D and 3D space will have an increased difficulty in acquiring the necessary GD&T language fluency. As a result, potential disconnects can occur between the design, manufacture, and inspection of parts, all affecting a company’s bottom line.

Engineering drawing illustrating complex datum reference frames.

Engineering drawing illustrating complex datum reference frames.

One critical area in which a lack of GD&T knowledge can be detrimental to an organization is in the bidding process. Ways in which a limited understanding of GD&T can affect cost estimating includes the following:

Underbidding: Individuals involved in cost estimating who do not understand GD&T could potentially underbid as a result of their lack of knowledge. A limited level of GD&T fluency can cause individuals to undervalue the requirements necessary to make the part. As a result, the responsibility is now on the manufacturing team to make sure the part is manufactured correctly within cost, a task they may not be able to execute.

Overbidding: On the other hand, individuals involved in cost estimating who do not understand GD&T could also potentially overbid due to their lack of knowledge. In this situation, their limited language fluency may cause them to panic at the sight of the GD&T-related symbols, making them add cost. This additional cost arises from the belief that GD&T increases the time it takes to manufacture the part. As a result, the company could lose the bid for a product they could have manufactured. If they do win the bid, they may have made it easy on themselves to manufacture the part; however, they still may not realize how GD&T is going to help make the part more profitable.

In the bidding process, both underbidding and overbidding have their own ramifications. Whether a bid is won but undervalued or lost where there could have been profit, both realities affect a company’s bottom line profitability. It is in these crucial situations where having a full comprehension of GD&T helps organizations and individuals have the greatest potential for success.

Kavita Krishnamurthy is an ASQ certified Six Sigma Black Belt with over 15 years of experience in the field of process improvement, manufacturing engineering, and quality management in the automotive and gear industries. She is also the subject matter expert of our GD&T Fundamentals course.


Is your issue a skills gap or a knowledge gap?

You may have received a call to action to address the skills gap, which might feel making a bridge across the Grand Canyon with a few sticks and some string. The overarching term, “skills gap,” encompasses a variety of workplace topography with very different types of solutions. Perhaps, because of its large scale “skills gap” doesn’t come close to identifying the specific scope or the needs of your organization. The problem may lie in defining what the problem really is.

How do you define a skills gap?

There are a variety of reasons for the rift between matching people with available jobs. 

The Technology Gap

Robotics, artificial intelligence, and other advanced technologies may pose one of two types of concerns. Either your facility is expanding toward the future and your people have skill shortages, or your facility is crawling toward these endeavors and you can’t keep your people from being lured away.

“The types of skills that employees need to possess are rapidly evolving, and it seems increasingly difficult for the workforce to keep pace.

If your facility has embraced AI and robotics in the workplace, educational bridges for these gaps may already be started. If this technology is still in a galaxy far, far away, perhaps first laying a foundational understanding of the basics the technology is addressing is a timelier approach for your current workers.

The Perception Gap

Misconceptions of what a career in your industry involves could be adding to your labor shortage. “It’s these misperceptions that exacerbate the skills shortage we’re facing, as young people, their parents and guidance counselors don’t see manufacturing as a viable career path.” 

Get onboard with an organization that is tackling the manufacturing myth for the workforce of tomorrow or start your own. Host a manufacturing day with a local school or community college and find ways to get employees involved. A group of like-minded change-makers can more readily organize and propose a paradigm shift, even if it is just within your facility or town.

The Knowledge Gap

Aging and subsequent generation identity are important issues in the world of manufacturing. Knowledge and experience are leaving and may not be handed off. A new generation of workers grew up with a very different landscape of tools and methods of learning. In training, these new learners may struggle with a mentor approach that can be sporadic in conveying information.

How do you make strides across the knowledge gap?

Laying a strong foundation of training in the basics for your industry can be an important supporting tool for bridging the gap. If the chasm you are facing is related to the preparation of various levels of experience, THORS courses can help.

The first thing taught is terminology. “From there, we build an understanding of the process and then cover how to apply the knowledge,” Kumar says.

Kumar says, “many training programs focus on teaching how to do something, but the “what” and “why” are crucial to understanding an entire process.” The understanding of the foundation allows for more creative problem-solving.

Skills Gap, Knowledge Gap

Once workers understand the terminology outside of their immediate responsibilities and department, they can have more effective conversations and collaboration with coworkers—“because now they understand what’s going on upstream and downstream from what they do,” Kumar says.

Perhaps by addressing the specific and relevant gap being faced, building a bridge across the skills gap can feel less like a daunting canyon and more like a manageable span over a narrow gulley.

We want to hear from you! Let’s discuss how THORS can aid in identifying and being a resource in your training operations.

Course Highlight GD&T

GD&T: 3 Factors that Affect Understanding

Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) is a complicated and complex standard that can lead to reading and interpreting errors. On drawings, GD&T is used as a point of reference in order to easily and effectively manufacture products that meet the fit, form, and function requirements of the part.

Due to the complex nature of the standard, GD&T can be incredibly difficult for users to understand and interpret, potentially leading to a disconnect between the design, manufacture, and inspection of parts.

DATUM Reference Frame GD&T

Render of a datum reference frame fully constraining a part in all degrees of freedom.

To better comprehend why GD&T is such a difficult concept, the following are common factors that can limit one’s understanding and interpretation of GD&T:

Prerequisite knowledge:

GD&T is an advanced-level concept that assumes the user has a full understanding of the rules, conventions, symbols, and associated terminology of print reading. Users who have not mastered the basic concepts found on a drawing are woefully unprepared to understand the complexity and technical intricacies of GD&T.

Language fluency

In its simplest form, GD&T is a language comprised of symbols used on prints that offer an enhanced version of a drawing in order to clearly convey the design intent for the part. Thus, as a language, there are levels of fluency a user must acquire. Until a user is fully fluent in the language of GD&T, much like a native speaker in their mother tongue, they will not fully comprehend the dynamics and relationships between the part’s features expressed on a print.

2D vs. 3D perspective

In addition to the prerequisite knowledge and levels of language fluency, a user must be able to mentally conceptualize the relationships expressed on a drawing between the features of a part. Individuals who are not familiar with print reading and how a two-dimensional drawing translates to a three-dimensional part will find GD&T incredibly difficult to navigate and elusive to grasp.

Due to the limitations imposed by the standard on the understanding and interpretation of GD&T, the following crucial areas in an organization could be affected:

  • Bidding process
  • Prototyping process
  • Product quality

Bottom-line profitability can be drastically affected by issues in any one of these critical areas. However, organizations and individuals who dedicate themselves to mastering the basics of print reading, developing their GD&T language fluency, and shaping their 2D/3D perspective have the greatest potential for understanding this fundamental industry concept.

Kavita Krishnamurthy is an ASQ certified Six Sigma Black Belt with over 15 years of experience in the field of process improvement, manufacturing engineering, and quality management in the automotive and gear industries. She is also the subject matter expert of our GD&T Fundamentals course.


Green Sand: A Classic Casting Recipe

Casting Chronicles

The history of humanity is defined by man’s relationship with the material world. Man’s ability to make tools from metals has changed our historical trajectory.

A copper frog from Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) dating back to 3200 BCE is the oldest known casting. Farm tools made of cast iron were used in China in 600 BCE. In the Middle Ages, metal casting was widely used for making bells and artillery. Fast forward to the nineteenth century, iron and steel manufacturing underpinned the industrial revolution.

According to recent estimates published by the American Foundry Society (AFS), most people in the United States are rarely more than ten feet away from a metal casting: metal castings continue to permeate our lives in the Age of Plastic. Metal castings are indispensable to our engineering feats—automobiles, aerospace, construction equipment, machinery, house-hold appliances, medical devices, hardware, water industry, and other infrastructure. This year, in the United States, sales of metal castings will generate thirty-three billion dollars in revenue.

Casting: A Kaleidoscopic View

A casting is a metal part made by pouring molten metal into a mold, allowing it to solidify, and extracting the final casting. Metal castings are predominantly produced in sand molds. Sand molds are expendable, or single-use, molds that are destroyed after retrieving the casting.

Green sand is the most used molding medium; green sand is moist foundry-grade sand. Interestingly, green sand is not green in color.

Green sand molds are made from three ingredients—sand, water, and clay binders. The molds are fabricated by compressing the sand mixture around the pattern. Ferrous metals including various types of iron and steel are primarily cast in green sand molds. Non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum, copper, bronze, magnesium, and zinc, can also be cast in green sand molds.

What makes casting in green sand molds a timeless technology?

  • Versatile:  green sand can be molded to produce complex castings with extensive gating systems.
  • Tougher:  green sand withstands high temperature; the molds retain their shape when the molten metal is poured
  • Greener: casting with green sand is a sustainable process; the sand is recovered and reprocessed after every casting cycle and the metal scraps are recycled in an endless loop.
  • Leaner: the abundance of sand makes the process cost-effective.
Green Sand

Sand casting is constantly evolving, the new wave in the field is 3D printing smart sand molds. Additive manufacturing or 3D printing of sand molds is in its infancy and promises great potential. By all indications, sand casting is here to stay!

Casting (De)coded

A sound casting begins with a flawless mold. Green sand mold production is a world of contrasts—Simple, yet sophisticated; Mundane, yet masterful.

At THORS eLearning Solutions, we create courses that encapsulate the rich lifetime experience of our experts and provide valuable insights on mold making and producing quality castings. We offer a suite of high-quality casting courses presented in a visually rich, interactive, and engaging fashion. THORS is a trusted training resource to maximize the potential of your workforce.


Aluminum: Driving the Decade

The first two decades of this century witnessed the dramatic fall and rise of the automotive industry. We cruise into the new decade with technological advances defined by fuel-efficient and autonomous vehicles.

Emission regulations and fuel economy mandates are defining the design parameters of the mobility market.  Automakers are increasingly adopting the production of lightweight vehicles for improving fuel efficiency. Aluminum—durable, lightweight, and high-strength material that can be infinitely recycled­—emerged as the “material of choice” for automobile components.

Permanent Mold Aluminum Castings

Aluminum and the Auto Industry: Past Milestones and Future Prospects

  • Dürkopp introduces the first sports car with an aluminum body in 1899
  • Carl Benz develops a car engine with aluminum parts in 1901
  • British Land Rover produces V-8 engine blocks with aluminum cylinders in 1961
  • Audi mass produces full aluminum body cars in 1994

Today, necessity and innovation have accelerated the use of aluminum in vehicle construction than ever before. According to a report published by Mordor Intelligence, the demand for die-cast aluminum parts is projected to reach USD $59,741.23 million in 2024.

Aluminum: Metal to Manufactured Solution

To meet the auto industry’s ongoing demand for aluminum components, about $2 billion has been invested in the aluminum casting industry since 2013. The casting process transforms the raw aluminum into a usable component. The common methods of casting aluminum include vacuum process, investment casting, permanent molds, and die casting techniques.

Vacuum process and investment casting are expendable casting processes where the mold is destroyed after each casting cycle. Vacuum process, or V-process, is a modified sand-casting process where the mold sand is held together by vacuum, instead of conventional binders. The parts fabricated using the vacuum process have excellent dimensional accuracy and superior surface finish. Investment casting, or lost-wax casting, involves controlled removal of pattern material from the mold and replacing it with the molten metal. Intricate parts that meet tight tolerance requirements are manufactured by investment casting technique.

Permanent molds and die casting methods use reusable molds. Permanent molds, or gravity die casting, harness the potential of gravity to gradually draw the molten metal into the mold. Low pressure and high pressure die casting methods to employ controlled pressure systems to force the metal into the mold. Castings manufactured by permanent mold and die casting methods have a finer surface finish.  Permanent mold casting and die casting methods are more popular as they have a high production rate.

The footprint of the vacuum process is on the rise!

eLearning Meets Manufacturing

In addition to its application in the auto industry, aluminum castings are integral to the airline, military, medical, and energy sectors. This surge in demand for aluminum castings has led to a corresponding job growth in the manufacturing segment. THORS eLearning Solutions offers a series of Aluminum Casting Courses that are an asset to casting manufacturers. The appealing visuals and interactive content support workforce training and skill development on the various casting operations.

Visit THORS Academy to see a full list of current courses.

Contact us, We would love to hear from you and discuss your training needs.


THORS Effectiveness Survey Results

In 2019, a US-based turbine company identified that they had a skills gap developing within their organization. They recognized the need for organized training and decided to make training an area of focus for 2019. Subsequently, they decided to sign on with THORS eLearning Solutions for a 1-year corporate subscription.

Recently, our THORS team conducted an anonymous survey with 12 of the turbine company employees that had taken the THORS courses. The survey audience consisted of 75% technical employees and 25% commercial employees. Employees with prior subject knowledge included 17% advanced and 58% intermediate levels while the novice level was 25%. We wanted to understand the impact THORS training was having on them and how it addressed the skills gap the company was experiencing.

In our survey, we explored beyond the standard questions, such as “Did you learn something from this course?” and asked questions, such as “Would this course have shortened your learning curve when you moved into your current organization or job?”. This type of question provided some excellent insight into our effectiveness in achieving one of our core goals. The results breakdown was as follows:

The THORS methodology takes a multi-sensory approach to learning that consists of a combination of interactives, animations, and quizzes that make our courses easy-to-understand and engaging. The results breakdown for the question “Did you think the course was intuitive, engaging, or both intuitive and engaging?” was as follows:

For the question, “Were the graphics, animations, and activities enlightening, and did they positively contribute to your understanding of the subject?” 100% of the respondents said yes.

We at THORS work with our customers to make sure the courses offered to their employees are relevant to their job.  To this effect, our newly launched customer success team will work with you, the customer, to help you get started. Our customer success team is there to gain an understanding of your training goals and build curricula relevant to your needs. This ensures your employees only spend time on necessary training. An example of this, when we asked the question, “Did you find the courses to be relevant to your work?”, 83% responded absolutely, while 17% responded with either probably, maybe, or not at all.

Even though continuous training is something that every company considers important, taking time away from the job for a seminar/classroom session is always a challenge given schedule differences and potential loss in productivity. THORS aims to be a solution to that problem, with training split into modules, minimizing company downtime. Our customer success team can prescribe and help tailor the curricula, be it courses from our standard library or our custom course offerings, specifically for you and your company. The year 2020 is right around the corner! If you’re looking to identify and fill your skills gaps and would like to expand your training program, contact THORS eLearning Solutions.

We are here to help.