Sept. 21 marked another day of firsts for Cambrian College, when faculty from the School of Skilled Training officially unveiled its new $940,000 material handling circuit, a one-of-a-kind machine for community colleges in Canada.
It's unique among all Canadian colleges in that it processes real material, like wood shavings, gravel or ore, in a closed loop, said Industrial Mechanical Millwright professor Darryl Park. This equipment will expose students to diverse scenarios involving a variety of elevators, conveyors, feeders and crushers. The fact the machinery is located outside also means students will gain a more realistic understanding of what it's like to work in the real world.
Cambrian president Sylvia Barnard said the new equipment will give students today and in the future the real-life experience they need to be “workforce ready,” so that employers don't have to spend the time training them once they are employed.
The equipment was built to industry standards, and it's “exactly what (students) can expect to see once they are in the workforce,” Barnard said.
Students from Cambrian's skilled trades programs helped build components of the machine, giving them a unique hands-on learning experience. Welding and Fabrication program co-ordinator Robbie Duncanson said the circuit's 40-foot conveyor was fabricated by welding students about 10 years ago, and the catch pans underneath it were made last year.
The walkways, platforms, ladders and handrails were all welded and fabricated by Cambrian students, as well, he said. The chutes were fabricated and welded by both Welding and Fabrication and Millwright students.
Construction of the material handling circuit was completed earlier this year, with $1.3 million in funding from the Ontario Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund.
“This is an historic moment in the history of trades development and in education,” Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci said. “This will ensure the skill development of a future workforce that is challenged with sustaining and building a global economy.”
Since 2003, the province has spent about $21 million on Cambrian College's trades programs, he said. Investing in a material handling circuit will position Ontario as being something unique, “and it's defined here at Cambrian College, in our city of Sudbury, in Northern Ontario.”
Kris Paajanen is a first-year millwright apprentice working for Fisher Wavy in Sudbury. He attended the unveiling, because he is currently on a two-month training program at Cambrian College. He said he works on this type of equipment in the field, and that what Cambrian has set up is very similar to what students will find when they start working.
Likewise, Timothy Cousins, also an apprentice, but for KBR Wabi, said there have been people start their employment who have taken millwright courses, but have never really done any hands-on work like this.
“I like that it's outside, because as a contractor, we're work in cold conditions and this is more realistic.”