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Game changers: RRC grads help build digital media industry at Ubisoft

January 13, 2020

Red River College grads Spencer Marr and Ibrahim Shahin have total recall of the day global digital entertainment giant Ubisoft announced it was opening a video game development studio in Winnipeg.

“When the news of the studio came out, all my friends and my family called me,” says Shahin (shown above, at left), who has since landed a plum job as a technical artist at Ubisoft Winnipeg‘s Exchange District studio. “I applied the same day it was announced.”

Marr (shown, at right) was already in celebration mode when he heard the news.

“The studio was announced randomly on my birthday,” says the 30-year-old team lead programmer. “As soon as it was announced I was looking into it, trying to find all the information I could, and I started preparing my resumé to apply for it that day.”

It’s fair to say Ubisoft’s arrival was a game-changer for the local industry. With brands like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Watch_Dogs, the company boasts it has the world’s largest in-house game development staff, with more than 17,000 employees in 40 studios on six continents.

The Winnipeg studio has a unique role as the only one focused on developing tools and technology to build better games. Lured in part by Manitoba’s Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, the company had hired 25 employees by the time it officially opened in October 2018. It plans to create 100 jobs over five years and so far, at least 10 RRC grads (many shown below) have signed on in various capacities.

“The best part is the people I work with,” Shahin says. “It’s crazy how well everyone gets along and how much care and effort is being put into building the team.”

Games have been a major part of Shahin’s life from an early age, but he’s always been more interested in making them than playing them. He says it helps that the skills he picked up at RRC are directly applicable to his job.

“All the stuff that we learned, all the tools and programs that we used there are industry standard.” Read More →

Range of programming preps Business Technology grad for role in project management

December 10, 2019

Aayush Manchanda, Red River CollegeAayush Manchanda is a foreman in the website building business.

A graduate of Red River College’s Business Technology Management (BTM) program, Manchanda is currently working as a Technical Project Manager at Web Wizards Inc., a Winnipeg-based company that specializes in web design and development, with focuses on online marketing, search engine optimization and software development.

In his role, Manchanda is responsible for making sure that everyone is working within scope and following the framework of the team’s assignment. He’s also accountable for tracking the performance of projects and ensuring they come in on time and within budget, and that they ultimately satisfy his clients’ needs and expectations.

As an international student from New Delhi, India, Manchanda’s focus was on getting accepted to a college that had an excellent standing, and a strong success rate of graduates being able to find employment in their fields of study.

“I believe the BTM program is the best in the field, with a rounded curriculum that not only gave me the necessary project management skills but also familiarized me with business law, financial accounting and analysis and economics, along with a variety of other necessary skill sets that you require when operating an IT business,” says Manchanda, who graduated from the program in 2017.

BTM is a two-year diploma program offered at RRC’s Exchange District Campus. The program provides grads with the necessary knowledge and skills to analyze, design and manage projects and businesses related to the field of information technology.

Manchanda, who came to Canada in late 2015, adjusted to life in a new land quite quickly. He says RRC helped him to acclimate to a new country, a new city and a new culture. Within a short time of being here, he was also able to secure employment. Read More →

Community Development grad pays it forward in facilitator role at Mount Carmel

December 5, 2019

A Red River College grad is giving back to her adopted hometown by helping recent arrivals to Winnipeg — just like she was helped 12 years ago.

A 2010 graduate of RRC’s Community Development/Community Economic Development program, Catherine Biaya knows how it feels to be in an unfamiliar city with nothing to her name but her clothes and her family. The challenges that come with moving to a new home and adapting to a new culture would feel overwhelming to anyone — but are especially so to those coming from a war-torn country.

Biaya and her family first moved to Winnipeg in 2007 as government-sponsored refugees after they were forced to flee to Uganda from their homeland in the Democratic Republic of Congo when war erupted across the nation.

After two years in Winnipeg, Biaya decided she wanted to go to school, and enrolled in RRC’s Community Development/Community Economic Development program (now called Social Innovation and Community Development).

Biaya said she was attracted to the College by its culture and course timeline.

“Going to the university, taking four years, five years, would not be beneficial — would be too demanding,” she explains.

While at RRC, Biaya had to handle numerous obstacles, from teaching methods that differed from those she was used to in Africa, to learning how to use PowerPoint for the first time. She credits her teachers and classmates for helping her adapt to these challenges.

“I would stay after school, tell them ‘I didn’t understand it very well, could you explain it to me?’” says Biaya.

“They would sit with me, summarize it, explain it. It really helped.” Read More →

Partnership with Shenyang Institute provides head start for Electrical Engineering grad

November 26, 2019

Sophie Shi, Red River CollegeSophie Shi knows that knowledge is power.

A 2018 graduate of Red River College’s Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) program, Shi works as a junior electrical designer at Hatch. A global engineering firm, Hatch supplies project and construction management services, as well as consulting and operational services to the mining and metals, energy and infrastructure industries.

Shi, who is from Liaoning province in northeastern China, started at Hatch a year and a half ago on the strength of her final project in the EET program.

“[The project] was about home energy monitoring by using SEL (Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories) company software and equipment,” says Shi, 26, who did her co-op placement at Hatch. “[Hatch] was using SEL company software and equipment, that’s why they were very interested in my final project.”

Shi’s duties at Hatch include assisting engineers with 2D and 3D drafting works, as well as project deliverables, including reviews of vendor drawings, cable lists, and some basic interconnection drawing design work.

Shi says she enjoys working at Hatch, which has an office location in downtown Winnipeg.

“I never feel bored,” she says. “At Hatch, engineers are highly qualified, they teach me before I start the project drafting work. I get the chance to understand and learn the electrical design. My manager provided me 40 hours of 3D modelling training when I entered the company.”

“In addition, Hatch provides exciting social events for us after the work day every month.”

Shi came to RRC through a partnership with Shenyang Engineering Institute in China. This meant that she was able to skip the first year of EET and go straight into year two of the 28-month diploma program. Read More →

Building a better Manitoba: Construction industry leader receives Distinguished Graduate award from Red River College

November 15, 2019

The vice-president of one of Manitoba’s leading heavy construction businesses — E.F. Moon Construction Ltd. — is the latest recipient of Red River College’s Distinguished Graduate Award.

Jack Meseyton, who’s also the chair of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, graduated from RRC’s Civil Engineering Technology program in 2005 with a diploma in Municipal Engineering Technology. His passion for, and commitment to the heavy construction industry in Manitoba, along with his dedication to the community of Portage la Prairie, set him apart and made him an outstanding candidate for RRC’s highest achievement.

“I am very humbled, excited and proud to be receiving this award,” says Meseyton. “I am a very strong believer in higher education and learning — our company has several RRC grads working with us. So, I am proud to have attended the College, proud to have RRC grads and alumni working for me, and very, very proud of this award.”

The Distinguished Graduate Award honours and recognizes RRC’s finest graduates — those who have distinguished themselves in both their chosen profession and their community through outstanding achievements in one or more of the following areas: humanitarianism, professional excellence, and community service.

Meseyton was a clear and deserving candidate for this honour, as he’d demonstrated all of the above in his life, through achieving professional excellence in construction and also by giving back to Portage’s community in a big way. Examples of this include his work fundraising for the United Way, his personal involvement in the Portage Potato Festival and for Merit Contractors Association of Manitoba.

“Red River College is proud to honour Jack Meseyton with the Distinguished Graduate award. His professional achievements exemplify the kind of commitment and leadership we strive to teach our students every day. They also represent the important contributions that RRC graduates make to Manitoba’s economy, including the heavy construction industry,” says Christine Watson, Vice-president Academic at RRC. Read More →

Community connections: Business grad expands network via volunteer and mentorship roles

November 12, 2019

Kanupriya Sidhu, Red River CollegeKanupriya Sidhu knows that when you help others, you help yourself.

Sidhu came to Canada from Punjab, India in early 2016 to study Business Administration at Red River College. While here, she sought out volunteering opportunities as a way of adjusting to a new country and culture.

“The first year I was pretty much trying to adjust to what was going on. Everything was different,” says Sidhu, 21, who graduated from the program in 2018.

“Studying wasn’t really hard for me. I was a bright student and I was doing well with my courses. I wanted to focus more on fitting myself into this culture and community, to get to know people and feel more comfortable and more at home in this place if I’m going to stay here for awhile.”

Sidhu acted as a Diversity Ambassador at RRC, a role that saw her promoting diversity on campus, providing peer support and assisting in the organization of events and activities.

“I used to volunteer a lot on campus, just because it kept me busy and also helped me interact with new people,” she says.

“I learned a lot about how the community thinks, how it works, and a lot about the culture of Canadian people. I also got to interact with instructors and management while organizing the activites. Volunteering added a lot to my experience here.”

In addition to her ambassador work, Sidhu also co-chaired RRC’s Student Refugee Program (SRP) committee, an initiative of World University Service of Canada.

“Every year, the SRP sponsors a student refugee and we support them on campus,” Sidhu says.

“I went to Ottawa in August 2017 and there was a leadership training program for SRP committee heads. That was a whole new experience because I got a chance to interact with people from more than 100 colleges and universities from all over Canada.” Read More →

Seeing through you: EET grad lands sought-after role repairing diagnostic imaging equipment

October 29, 2019

John Hamilton’s profession is the picture of health.

A 2012 graduate of Red River College’s Electrical Engineering Technology program, Hamilton works as a field service engineer at Philips Healthcare, where he maintains and repairs diagnostic medical imaging equipment. That includes machines related to X-ray, ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and nuclear medicine.

In other words, if someone can see right through you, it means Hamilton is doing a good job.

“We’ll get calls from different hospitals around the region. My territory is Manitoba and northwest Ontario, so I’ll go as far as Dryden to do work,” Hamilton says. “Usually we get a call that there’s an issue or something wrong with their system and we’ll go in and troubleshoot, order parts and repair.”

Prior to entering the EET program at RRC, Hamilton was halfway through a computer science degree at the University of Winnipeg, but found it wasn’t the right fit for him.

“I didn’t like it because I was going to be just sitting in front of a computer all the time, doing coding and not working hands-on as much, so when I heard about the Red River program, I signed up for it,” he says. “I really enjoyed the program because it gives you some aspects of that (computer science) but it also gives you a lot of hands-on skills as well.”

“I like that the program covered a lot of different areas. It wasn’t too focused on one stream. I was able to do some biomedical courses in there too, so I got a taste of what I’d eventually do. It was everything from PCB (printed circuit board) design to how circuits work, so it gave me a really well-rounded knowledge.” Read More →

Package deal: Machining grad’s skill set prepares him for range of roles in manufacturing

October 15, 2019

Jesus Bojorquez, Red River CollegeJesús Bojorquez is the total package.

A graduate of Red River College’s Precision Metal Machining program, Bojorquez works as an assistant operator at Winpak Ltd., a company that manufactures and distributes packaging materials.

Bojorquez, who is from Cancun, Mexico, credits RRC with helping him to develop a comprehensive skill-set that has enabled him to be a go-to guy at his workplace.

“What I learned from my teachers is not just how to run the machines, but to respect the machines. You need to take care of them. If you know how they work, you know when something is wrong and you know how to fix it,” says Bojorquez, 36, who graduated from the year-long pre-employment program in 2016.

“I’ve been with Winpak for almost two years, and because of the knowledge that I acquired from Red River, my supervisor always moves me from one area to another to another. I’m one of the few people that knows how to be in every single side of the department.”

In Mexico, Bojorquez worked in the sales department for a hotel and resort operator. With a desire to work with his hands (and hotel/resort work hard to come by in wintery Winnipeg), Bojorquez opted to pursue an entirely different path at RRC.

“I chose Precision Metal Machining because it was the first step for me to go into Mechanical Engineering Technology, which is also at Red River,” Bojorquez says.

“But my family grew — I have two kids now and another coming, so it was not that easy to continue. Then I started working, and everything changes in our life. I want to go back to Red River eventually, but not to go into Mechanical Engineering Technology. Now, I want to do Aerospace Manufacturing.” Read More →

Enhancing awareness: Chemical and Biosciences grad increases supports for Indigenous Peoples

October 2, 2019

Jake Freeman is incorporating her Indigenous culture into her career.

A proud Métis woman, Freeman is currently working in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Indigenous Support and Awareness Office.

According to AAFC’s website, the office was established in 2017 to enhance the department’s ability to support Indigenous agriculture, by increasing recruitment and retention of Indigenous employees, and enhancing awareness of Indigenous Peoples and cultures through a department-wide training program.

Freeman graduated from Red River College’s Chemical and Biosciences Technology program (now Science Laboratory Technology) in 2000. She went on to work for AAFC for 17 years as a resource technician, where her duties included working with water and soil specialists to support the set-up and operation of field monitoring equipment.

“I’m still at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, but I’m on an assignment right now with our Indigenous Support and Awareness Office as a content developer for the Indigenous Awareness Learning Series that we’re doing within our department,” Freeman says.

“I go through what kind of learning is available through other departments, schools, online, etc. I check and see if there’s anything our department can work with other departments on with some of the learning that they’re doing.

“I’m also one of three co-chairs for our Indigenous Network Circle, which is for Indigenous employees across the country that work at AAFC. Through the network we’ve ended up doing a book club called Indigenous Reads, which is available at no cost to employees through the Canadian Agriculture Library. It’s all books recommended by Indigenous employees and usually by Indigenous authors, sometimes about culture, language, arts, and even traditional agriculture. It’s a way we can help facilitate learning through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.” Read More →

Empathy in action: Culture shock gives way to community support for Health Care Aide alum

September 12, 2019

Saba Tesfamariam, Red River CollegeSaba Tesfamariam cares for the people you care about the most.

A graduate of Red River College’s Health Care Aide program, Tesfamariam works as a health care aide at Extendicare in Winnipeg, helping senior citizens live comfortable lives.

“As a health care aide, I help the residents with their daily living and activities, like cleaning them, bathing them and dressing them,” she says. “I love it. Helping people, I love to do that.”

Tesfamariam, 37, immigrated in 2013 from Asmara, Eritrea. Asmara is the capital and most populous city in the African country, which is located along the Red Sea and bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

“My husband heard from his friend that Red River College was the nicest college here and that it is acceptable everywhere,” Tesfamariam says.

“My husband encouraged me to attend English for Adults classes (at RRC’s Language Training Centre). I told my teacher I was interested in Health Care Aide because it is the shortest program and the requirement with my English level was easy to access. She gave me the details and after six months attending that English class, I got all the requirements, I got College access and then I took the program.”

Health Care Aide is a 20-week certificate program delivered at six RRC campuses. In the program, aspiring health care aides develop the skills they’ll need to assist clients with their physical, emotional and social needs.

Health Care Aide students also receive on-the-job training with six weeks of work placement in health care agencies.

“The way they taught us was very easy, very understandable. It was a very good course,” Tesfamariam says. “We did practice every other lesson, and the six-week practicum after you’re done (the program) was very helpful.” Read More →