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Instructors’ experience proves invaluable for Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic grad

June 17, 2019

Charles Lu, Red River CollegeCharles Lu helps drivers to keep on truckin’. 

A native of Shenyang, China, Lu works as a truck and transport mechanic at Custom Truck Sales in Winnipeg, where he diagnoses, maintains and repairs big rigs and medium duty trucks. 

Lu started at Custom Truck Sales shortly after graduating from Red River College’s Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic program in 2013. He says the hands-on style of learning he received at RRC set him up for success in the shop. 

“I gained a lot of really valuable knowledge and experience,” says Lu, who also goes by Yibo, his Chinese name.

“I learned a lot in the shop class at Red River College. In the school they have a real truck that you work on. You can do brake jobs, transmission overhaul, engine overhaul, same [as in] the real world. That’s fantastic.”

Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic is a one-year certificate program offered at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus. The entry-level program prepares aspiring mechanics to service and repair heavy mobile equipment, with 60 per cent of the program spent doing hands-on work on heavy machinery.  

Lu, 40, says the instruction he received in the program was top-notch, taught by teachers with plenty of experience and grease on their overalls. 

“I think pretty much all the instructors had been working in this trade for a couple decades, so they were really well-educated and experienced,” he says. “They talk about the real stories that they have been through, and they shared that with us.”

Prior to entering the program, Lu studied at RRC’s Language Training Centre to improve his English skills. He also took part in plenty of RRC initiatives for international students. 

“RRC has an Intercultural Mentorship Program for students from overseas, where international students can share their experience with local students,” Lu says. “I and other local students from the Nursing program, we’d do things like bowling or a dinner night, and she [my mentor] invited my wife and me to her family party on Thanskgiving Day. We shared a lot and it really helped me in adapting to the Canadian lifestyle.”

A former office worker in China, Lu appears to be adjusting to life in the shop quite well. He earned his Red Seal certification as a heavy-duty equipment technician in 2017. 

Lu is also coming up on six years with Custom Truck Sales, a partner of Inland Kenworth. A two-time North American Kenworth Dealer of the Year, the company also has locations in Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Estevan and Brandon, operating in Winnipeg at 357 Oak Point Hwy.

When he’s not in the shop, Lu spends time with his wife and three children. He also belongs to a radio-controlled vehicle club. Surprisingly, he’s not racing R/C trucks, though. 

“I joined the Winnipeg Model Boat Club,” Lu says. “That’s a fantastic club. It has really interesting R/C boats. They have boat sailing every Sunday in the summer at Assiniboine Park [on the Riley Family Duck Pond]. I met them at the train show [Manitoba Mega Train], a hobby show.” 

Lu says he sometimes misses his home in China, but he did get back for a visit last year. He says Winnipeg is a “great city” and that he loves the people here. Lu is also very grateful to RRC for giving him the chance to succeed in Canada. 

“Red River College gave me a very good opportunity to start my career in Canada,” he says. “I’m really thankful for Red River College.”

Profile by Jared Story (Creative Communications, 2005)