Okanagan College powers up new welding building in Penticton
Welders training in the South Okanagan now have a state-of-the-art new shop in which to spark their torches and test their metal.
Okanagan College officials, students, industry partners and community members gathered at the Penticton campus today to mark the opening of the College’s new $2.2-million, 465-square-metre (5,000 square ft.), welding facility.
Among them was a class of 16 Welder Foundation students, who, under the tutelage of instructor Mark Stathers, will be the first to train in the facility. The shop they’ll soon step into is one of the most advanced and sustainable in the province, informed by extensive input from industry.
“In building this facility, we had several goals,” explains Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We set out to provide the highest quality learning environment for our trades students and apprentices in the South Okanagan, to build a space that would help to meet the needs of employers in the region, and to further reduce our carbon footprint in Penticton.”
Previous intakes of welding students in Penticton trained in leased facilities off campus. A decade of strong demand for welders in the region, along with opportunities to reduce costs and improve the sustainability factor, spurred the College to build its own purpose-built welding facility on campus.
“Bringing students back on campus for their training, where they can access services and enjoy a more rewarding overall experience was another goal,” notes Eric Corneau, Regional Dean for the South Okanagan-Similkameen. “It was important to us that our welding students be able to enjoy the same student experience as their peers in other programs.”
The new facility will also afford the College enhanced space and flexibility to be able to offer other trades programs on campus.
“In addition to serving our welding students, we’ll be able to utilize the space to deliver offerings like our Gateway to Trades for high school students and our Women in Trades programs. Our HVAC Foundation students will tap into it from time to time as well,” explains Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.
“It will also open doors to customized training opportunities, which we expect will be of great benefit to local employers.”
One of those employers pleased to see the new space come on stream is Brad Harder, the President of Penticton Fabricating and chair of the College’s Welding Program Advisory Committee.
“As an employer in this community, and someone who has been involved in watching the College’s welding program develop and change over the years, I’m excited that we now have this purpose-built facility to help train tomorrow’s welders and meet the needs of employers in the area,” says Harder.
“We are now looking to increase the number of apprentices we have because of this local program and would like to encourage other employers to do the same.”
The facility was designed and built by Okanagan-based builder Faction Projects Inc.