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Students Spark New Era at Selkirk College’s Silver King Campus

Bob Hall
By Bob Hall
July 30th, 2017

A key milestone in the $18.9 million Selkirk College Silver King Campus refresh project arrived in dramatic fashion when students made sparks fly in the shiny new welding shop.

The first shop to be overhauled and completed, a small group of Metal Fabricator Foundation Program students had the opportunity to get a taste of the trades training future when they stepped into the modern welding booths to work on final projects.

“It’s amazing that we have such a modern shop in a small college like ours,” said welding instructor Bruce Davis. “It’s an honour to be the first instructor to work with students in this environment.”

Davis started his welding career in 2004 in the old shop space when he enrolled in the Welding Foundation Program at Selkirk College. After spending several years in the industry completing his Red Seal, he recently returned to the Silver King Campus as an instructor.

“To walk into a new facility like this will be very encouraging for students and enable them to enjoy their learning much more,” said Davis, who was leading the instruction on the welding component of the Metal Fabricator Foundation Program. “It’s so clean… it will be fun to see it fully operational in September when we get a full cohort of students working in here.”

The modern core equipment that students work with in the welding shop was moved over from the old shop space that had very little upgrading since the Silver King Campus first opened more than 50 years ago. The 34 new booths have been constructed to the latest standards which will provide Selkirk College students with the best learning environment available.

“The booths are designed to feel less claustrophobic and the ventilation system is much improved,” said Metal Fabricator Foundation Program student Daniel Secor. “The old shop was definitely at the end of its life. It will be nice for students to work in the space because it’s very well thought out in terms of design, so you spend less time carrying materials back-and-forth and more time working.”

Having completed the Welding Foundation Program at Selkirk College earlier this year and also trained at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) previously, Secor said the new shops are the best he has seen. The positive feedback is exactly what the college was hoping for when it embarked on the long overdue refresh.

“It’s fantastic to see students starting to work in the new shop areas and recognize that the improvements will help foster a better learning environment,” said Rob Schwarzer, chair of the School of Industry & Trades Training. “This is just the beginning and it won’t be long before all the shops are completed to the same level of modern standards.”

The Silver King Campus first opened in 1964 as the BC Vocational School and merged with Selkirk College in 1975. More than a half-century old, the campus was long overdue for the overhaul that was made possible through a $10.4 million investment by the Government of British Columbia and a $5.84 million infusion by the Government of Canada.

The bustle at the Silver King Campus continues as construction crews put the finishing touches on the welding shop and continue progress in the heavy mechanical, carpentry, fine woodworking, millwright/machinist and electrical shops. The project also includes a new student commons building which will boast a new cafeteria, multi-purpose open study area, student services offices and an Aboriginal Gathering Place. Work on the new building is expected to break ground later this summer.

“We’re still a long way from completion, but it’s exciting to get a glimpse at what the future holds at this campus,” said Schwarzer, who was a welding and metal fabricator instructor prior to moving into his role as school chair. “There is a new level of excitement amongst instructors, staff and students who have all been very patient while this complex project proceeds.”

The Silver King Campus renewal project is slated for completion in Spring, 2018.

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