TRU received a $2,039,000 federal grant in July earmarked for the establishment of an instrumentation engineering program and expansion of the existing instrumentation foundations course.
According to the university, the program will focus on supporting “skills training in oil and gas production and processing facilities.” The funds came from Western Economic Diversification Canada, a government agency whose mandate is “to promote the development and diversification of the economy of Western Canada and advance the interests of the West in national economic policy.”
“TRU will now be able to accommodate all levels of apprenticeship in instrumentation,” said Heather Hamilton, TRU’s industry and contract training manager. “No one else in the interior
Currently, TRU only offers a course in instrumentation foundations that accompanies a Level 1 apprenticeship. The certification students will earn from additional apprenticeship levels is known as “Instrumentation and Controls Technician” or “Instrumentation Mechanic.”
According to Hamilton, more advanced Instrumentation courses will begin approximately a year from now and most of the new funding will go towards equipment.
“My vision is that, if we can build with the appropriate process equipment, we can teach any course from foundations to the engineering program. Build it and they will come,” said Max Tinsley, Instructor of TRU’s instrumentation foundations course.
The equipment in question includes “lab-size operating plants,” which are scaled down versions of the instrumentation equipment used in Industry.
According to Tinsley, the expansion of TRU’s instrumentation program will benefit B.C. as a whole by reducing the long wait list at BCIT and offering apprentice tradesmen an option other than seeking education in Alberta.
An alternative to BCIT is a welcome prospect for Tim Bryant, a student in the instrumentation foundations course who called the wait list and price of accommodation at BCIT “crazy.”
Another area of the university that will benefit from the new funding is the engineering program. Dean of science Tom Dickinson said he has been working with Lindsay Langill, the dean of trades, “to couple skills that students get in trades and academic programs.”
According to Dickinson this will manifest itself in the engineering department by giving students in electrical engineering courses access to the proposed instrumentation lab. The goal of this is to “provide a better and more hands on type engineer.”
Tinsley agreed with the need for cooperation between the two programs and said he “expects to be working with the instrumentation engineer class.”
Another possibility opened up by greater cooperation between trades and engineering is a laddering program that would allow apprentices in the instrumentation program to transfer some of their credits into a degree in engineering.