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Technician Training With Virtual Reality in UTI’s Ford FACT Program

Apr 11, 2023 ·

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Universal Technical Institute is taking automotive technician training to new heights with its recent introduction of virtual reality (VR) into the Ford FACT specialized training program. Working directly with curricula created by Ford Motor Company and Bosch, students in the Ford FACT program now have access to a fully immersive VR environment that allows them to become better acquainted with the vehicles they’re learning about.

“Ford FACT is the first that we are aware of to bring virtual reality into training programs, and it’s because Ford FACT delivers dealership technician training,” says Bob Furedy, National Programs Director at UTI.

According to Furedy and Ford FACT Technical Team Leader Tom Varrone, who collectively have 48 years of automotive industry experience, two things are coming into play with automotive manufacturers: virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Both forms of technology are streamlining solutions on automotive vehicles. And the same can be said for the Ford FACT specialized training offered at UTI.1

Introducing Virtual Reality (VR) to the Ford FACT Program

Like every program at UTI, it’s essential to remain up to date with technological advancements in the industry. For Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training (MSAT) programs like Ford FACT, UTI leaders ensure that their instruction incorporates specific technology from those manufacturers, so students complete their training with specialized knowledge and experience.

“This type of learning (VR) is part of the Ford training requirement, so we teach it here,” Tom says. “It is imperative for us to change with how the industry is changing, since our technicians are either already in the field or looking to go into the field. They need to know what tools are out there and how to use them.”

For those who are not as familiar with how VR and AR are being used in the automotive industry, Bob explains it as such: “AR is used to enhance your diagnostics, whereas VR is used to enhance your skills outcome or overall technician performance.”

The 15-week8 Ford FACT program is currently using only VR as part of its technician training, but the program is expected to see AR come into play as technology continues to impact automotive manufacturers.

Not only is it being used in the industry, but it provides a new way to learn and keeps students engaged. “There’s nothing boring about this kind of learning. It’s actually a lot of fun,” Tom states. “And whenever you can make learning fun, they learn more.”

Enhancing Automotive Technician Training With Immersive Experiences

Ford introduced VR to its training centers at the start of 2023, and it was rolled out in February and March to all nine UTI campuses that offer the Ford FACT program. “It is brand new. We just started it with this class of students,” Tom explains.

As part of the hands-on lab learning, students move through four workstations to practice and enhance their skills. In the VR station, these students use the NEO3 Pro headset and handset to work through realistic automotive shop simulations to solve repairs.

“There are two simulations. One is for a class that we don’t teach yet, High Voltage Battery, that covers servicing the internal components of the battery. The other one is the Brakes Lathe activity for our brakes course,” Bob shares.

These simulations each take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to complete, depending on the user. The visuals are also displayed on a TV monitor, where the instructor can watch students’ work and help guide them through different scenarios as needed.

Not only does this provide real-world training for the students, but it does so in a safe environment. Tom chimes in, “They complete learning objectives of certain real-world scenarios virtually. Then when you get them working on the car, they almost have experience with it. Certainly builds depth in learning.”

This allows students to establish confidence training on vehicles and performing these tasks virtually before they do so on an actual vehicle. The best part? Students really enjoy it!

“It’s very intuitive for them and it’s fun learning. I have yet to have a student complain about doing the exercises,” Tom says.

The Future of Ford Automotive Training: Virtual Reality and Beyond

The introduction of virtual reality technology into the automotive field is proving to be a game changer. With VR, students who qualify for UTI’s Ford FACT program can experience a much more immersive and realistic environment to gain an understanding of the vehicles they’re learning about. As such, there has been improved engagement and retention of material.

As far as the Ford FACT program goes, students can expect to see an expansion in VR within the curriculum. According to Bob, “We were told to expect several additional exercises in other curricula areas during the course of this calendar year.”

VR will seemingly become more integrated into the Ford FACT program at UTI, but what about beyond that? Bob expresses, “I would like to see augmented reality (AR). I do think that is the next thing that we don’t have today. But I know Ford is working on it. And of course, additional activities in VR.”

If you’ve taken the Automotive Technician program at UTI but are curious to obtain more manufacturer-specific knowledge, check out how to apply for one of our specialized training programs, like Ford FACT! Enjoy discovering the possibilities of new technology and gaining more knowledge about the auto industry. Request more information here.

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

8) Does not include time required to complete a qualifying prerequisite program such as UTI’s 51-week Automotive Technology program.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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