University receives funding for new trades equipment

Vancouver Island University is getting more than $1.46 million to buy new skills training equipment for five different trades programs.

The province announced the funding Tuesday, part of a $17-million investment to support public post-secondary institutions that are upgrading equipment.

“It’s the most substantial amount of capital money we’ve had in the area in years,” said Fred MacDonald, dean of trades and applied technology. “It will meet our most pressing needs.”

The new equipment is for the culinary arts, welding, heavy duty/commercial transport mechanics, electrical and automotive programs.

The money will buy a new commercial dishwasher to replace one that was taken out of service this week, new hoisting equipment, replacing the mobile crane that carries metal around in the welding department, a metal shear and engine-analyzing equipment.

MacDonald said the new equipment will either replace old, outdated machines that break down frequently or will give students a chance to work with the latest technology that can be found in the workplace, better preparing them for future jobs.

John Yap, minister of advanced education, innovation and technology, said the province wants more people to consider choosing a career in the trades and part of that is ensuring the province provides education and training opportunities aligned with the needs of the economy.

Jack Van Doorn, an instructor in the heavy duty/commercial transport mechanics program, said the new engine analysis equipment will not only help the department stay current, it will also maintain the program’s reputation of producing high-quality graduates.

Familiarity with the latest technology in use in the industry is important to help students get jobs when they graduate, added Darcy MacKenzie, a first-year heavy duty/commercial transport mechanics student.

MacDonald said the last major investment the province made for this kind of upgrading at VIU was $1 million in 2008.

He said the heavy equipment operator program, which is being reviewed over the next year to determine if it should be redeveloped or cancelled, was not on the province’s list of programs to benefit from this announcement, but university officials are working to find the money needed to replace aging equipment.

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