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Selkirk College Trades Students Settle Into Renovated Shop Spaces

Bob Hall
By Bob Hall
November 23rd, 2017

After more than a year of bustling construction activity on Nelson’s Silver King Campus, newly renovated shop spaces are now filled with students and ready to welcome more in the new year.

As part of an $18.9 million refresh of the trades-centric campus, for more than 12 months the main shop spaces have been filled with just as many career tradespeople as those learning the ropes. With the bulk of the renovation phase of the project now complete, students have started to christen the welding, metal fabrication, millwright/machinist, heavy mechanics and electrical shops.

“It was an interesting year and there were certainly challenges,” says Rob Schwarzer, Chair of the School of Industry & Trades Training. “It took patience by both staff and students, but now that classes are getting down to work in the shop spaces, it’s pretty obvious that it was worth it. We now have shops that provide the best education possible for students.”

Students in the current Millwright/Machinist Foundation Program cohort have been working on hand tools for a few weeks and earlier this month began building their skills on lathes.

“The old shop was very cramped and there was no room for expansion,” says Millwright/Machinist Instructor Cory Drew. “The students now have more personal bench space whether they are working on hand tools or their layout project. Having more space benefits the student and also provides instructors better opportunity to teach all the skills required.”

The 36-week Millwright/Machinist Foundation Program prepares those wanting to embark on entry level positions as apprentice millwrights (industrial mechanic) or apprentice machinists with manufacturing and resource development firms. Students engage in a variety of classroom and shop activities that provide them the important principles of the trade. The class utilizes the shop spaces to fabricate, install and maintain industrial tools, machines and equipment to exacting standards of precision.

Advancements in technology using computer numeric control (CNC) equipment, 3D printing and robotics has brought change to the millwright and machinist trades. Selkirk College offers a range of skills required for today’s demands.

“The Millwright/Machinist Foundation Program provides a tremendous variety of skills and covers a wide field,” says Drew, who arrived from industry and has been teaching at Selkirk College for five years. “You can come out of this program with so much of what you need that will provide an opportunity to work in a variety of settings.”

Current student Carl Morris came to the Millwright/Machinist Foundation Program from his home in Edenwold, Saskatchewan. The 21-year-old is pleased with the new shop spaces and the level of education he is receiving at the Silver King Campus.

“I looked around for the right program to get a start and it was a good choice to come to Selkirk College,” says Morris. “The Millwright/Machinist Foundation is great program and the instructor provides us with what we need to know, when we need to know it.”

Selkirk College is now accepting applications for the upcoming February start in three different programs. Starting on February 4, Metal Fabrication Foundation, Carpentry Foundation and Millwright/Machinist Foundation will all welcome new students. Seats in all programs are still available.

“All three of these foundation programs are excellent ways to enter the trades,” says Schwarzer, who has taught in both the metal fabrication and welding programs. “It’s exciting to be able to welcome students to these state-of-the-art learning spaces.”

Construction at the Silver King Campus will continue through the winter with a new shop for the Carpentry Program and the new Student Commons building. All programs at the Silver King Campus continue to run while work is being completed.

Find out more about opportunities in the Selkirk College School of Industry & Trades at or call 250.354.3221 for more information.

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