Trades program receives $2 million federal grant

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

Instrumentation instructor Max Tinsley shows off Brian Wells and Johnathon Watt’s final instrumentation project, an automated water pump. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Instrumentation instructor Max Tinsley shows off Brian Wells and Johnathon Watt’s final instrumentation project, an automated water pump. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

offers that.”

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.