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Happy Trails: Mechanical Engineering Tech. grad makes it big in snow-biz

February 12, 2019

Most people don’t relish taking work home on weekends. For Andy Beavis, it’s a fun part of the job.

As an engineer and Mountain team leader at Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls, Minn., the 1998 Mechanical Engineering Technology grad is encouraged to take new snowmobile models and prototypes for a spin whenever he can.

“We’re a relatively small group of people, but we build pretty exotic toys from the ground up. The exciting part of it is we design the parts, we test the parts, we build the vehicles and we have access to the final product — which is a pretty exciting product.”

One prototype Beavis has been trying out since 2011 just arrived on the market, and it’s making headlines and earning rave reviews for its revolutionary single-beam rear suspension system — an industry first that also happens to be his brainchild.

Cover of American Snowmobiler magazine, December 2018 issueThe M8000 Alpha One system was featured on the December 2018 cover of American Snowmobiler magazine, which called it, “one of the greatest turning points in the history of snowmobiling.”

But while his name is on the patent, Beavis says the glory isn’t his alone.

“It’s satisfying on the one hand because it was my concept and my idea,” he says. “But on the other hand, I’ve got a whole team of people that work for me or work with me on that stuff, so I get a lot of the credit sometimes when the final product is really the result of a team.”

An inventor or co-inventor on several patented components, Beavis has designed chassis, drive tracks and steering assemblies — basically everything but engines — since he joined Arctic Cat as a design engineer in December 1998.  Read More →

Casting call: Red River College’s RRC Works Campaign

December 12, 2018

Ever wanted to appear in print or TV ads promoting Red River College as an integral part of the province’s educational landscape, not to mention a key driver of Manitoba’s economy?

If so, you’re in luck! The College’s Marketing department is in pre-production mode for the next phase of its far-reaching RRC Works campaign, and is putting out a call for alumni who might be interested in taking part.

Demographic info for next month’s photo and video shoots is below. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Paid opportunity: Four key non-union, non-agency actors/models to be featured in a multi-media marketing campaign, including (but not limited to) province-wide billboards, supporting video for television, and other. We also require extras to complete background requirements for certain scenes. Previous experience an asset, but not necessary. RRC grads welcome to apply. (This is definitely an asset!) Read More →

Solo artist: Graphic Design grad a hitmaker in the Canadian music scene

December 7, 2018

It didn’t take artist Roberta Landreth long to find her groove after she graduated in 2012 from Red River College’s Graphic Design (Advanced) program.

The 32-year-old proprietor of Treehouse Design landed a gig at brand development and communications firm Honest Agency directly out of college, working with clients like Folklorama and KidsFest. Just two years later, while she was deeply immersed in a side project, she was ready to hang out her own shingle.

In 2015, that side project — designing album art and a 150-page booklet for Christian musician Steve Bell’s 25th anniversary box set Pilgrimage — earned her a Juno Award, a Western Canadian Music Award (WMCA) and the Gospel Music Association of Canada’s Covenant Award.

“That one was a huge amount of work, like hundreds of hours,” she says.

“I just finished another kind of heavy-duty one for a guy named Matt Dusk out of Toronto. That one was crazy.”

As in crazy-cool. Working on a tight deadline, that job included a 50-page book with 10 illustrations for retro-crooner Dusk’s new JetSetJazz tribute to Frank Sinatra.

Her most important client is much closer to home — her husband of two years, David, who founded local roots-rock outfit the Bros. Landreth with his sibling Joey.

Bell first enlisted Landreth (nee Hansen) after seeing her artwork on their album Let It Lie, for which they picked up a 2015 Juno Award just moments before Roberta’s win at a gala in Hamilton, Ont.  Read More →

Cyber star: Ethical hacker is top-flight security specialist

October 26, 2018

Cyber security specialist Zoë Rose’s career has really taken flight since she graduated in 2015 from Red River College’s Business Information Technology (BIT) program.

The 28-year-old globetrotter has plane-hopped around the world, speaking at conferences on four continents and, since March 2016, plying her trade from a home base in London, England, where she is currently a security consultant with technology firm Baringa Partners.

As a “white hat” hacker, Rose uses her skills for good instead of evil. She might hack into a client’s system or office as part of her job, with the goal of helping them identify weaknesses, educating them about phishing and cyber threats, and developing programs to protect their privacy and security.

She has been invited to share her expertise with audiences in Sri Lanka, Norway, Berlin, Australia, Poland, Sweden and Austria, among other countries. In September alone, she flew to Malaysia for the Cyber Security Asia conference, spoke at a London conference for women in banking and finance and demonstrated her ethical hacking skills at a private event in Spain.

“Essentially, the goal of the presentation was to raise awareness of our online footprint. I would investigate the audience and present the findings back live. It was actually quite fun,” she says.

Before returning to Kuala Lumpur in November to present an ethical hacking demonstration and workshop at FinTech conference SCxSC, she’ll speak at a developer conference in Sweden and, in mid-October, she’ll be in Washington, D.C., for Operation Safe Escape’s Domestic Violence and Security conference, focusing on personal security, IoT (the Internet of Things) and maintaining anonymity while online.  Read More →

CreComm grad creates opportunities for fitness and friendship in the Exchange

October 19, 2018

Bringing people together through sweat and a sense of community, Red River College grad Amie Seier is opening up a new gym in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

The Community Gym, which gives members the opportunity to take spin, boxing, yoga and bootcamp classes at a central location, began pop-up classes in September and is currently housed in what used to be Berns & Black Salon, next to Parlour Coffee on Main Street.

“I wish I had a place like The Community when I was going to school,” says Seier (shown above, at centre), who graduated from RRC’s Creative Communications program in 2012.

“Exercise reduces anxiety and improves mental performance — it’s what our bodies are meant to do. And The Community is more than just a place to work out, it’s a place to escape your screens and find real people.”

Seier, who has worked in marketing since graduating, credits her experience in CreComm for giving her the skills to launch a business.

“It’s more than a program to prepare you for the workforce as an employee — it really gives you the foundation as a business owner,” she says. “What you won’t find online about the program is that it makes you realize that you can make anything a reality with hard work. It forges you through the fire, and you learn, ‘Hey, I can actually do this idea I had. It’s real and I made that happen.’”   Read More →

Top chef: Culinary Arts grad a connoisseur of new challenges

October 19, 2018

Culinary Arts graduate Chris Stoneham is always plotting his next career move. In fact, as we speak, he’s looking for ways to expand his latest business, a quick-serve restaurant called Rebel Pizza.

He’s a firm believer in the idea that if you settle, you might lose out — and so far, that attitude has paid off.

“Standing still is pretty much like moving backwards because there are so many other people that are innovating and re-creating,” Stoneham says. “You always have to try to better yourself and be your best self.”

The Red River College alum has challenged himself from the get-go, starting shortly after graduating from the two-year Culinary Arts program in 2000. That’s when he took on the role of Executive Chef at the then-newly opened Shooters Family Golf Centre restaurant.

“It was a pretty huge undertaking,” says Stoneham, who was in his early 20s at the time.

All of the knowledge and practical experience he’d gathered at RRC — especially through his shifts at the student-run Prairie Lights restaurant — prepared him for wearing many hats at Shooters.

“It was like, organize the kitchen, order all of the supplies, hire all of the staff, create the menus, set up suppliers … just do everything,” he says.

Clearly Stoneham — who’d gone the RRC route after working various restaurant jobs as a teenager — passed the test, and the owners leased him the food and beverage business a couple of years later. Read More →

Power kegs: Brewing up a healthy business

September 17, 2018

When life hands them lemons, some people make lemonade. Red River College grad Michelle Leclair makes lemon-ginger kombucha, along with pomegranate limeade and seasonal flavours like apple-spice.

The founder of Wolseley Kombucha, Leclair, 34, has a history as a do-it-yourself problem-solver. Her can-do attitude led her to RRC twice over the last 12 years, first to launch a career as a Medical Radiologic Technology grad in 2008 and again when the taxing physical requirements of her work as an X-ray technologist prompted a career switch.

An MRI technologist at Pan Am Clinic since she graduated from the MRI and Spectroscopy program in 2016, she started making kombucha — a fizzy, fermented probiotic tea-based drink — for personal use in 2015, in response to extensive food sensitivities.

“Pretty much everything that I ate would make me feel sick,” she says.

Traditional medicine didn’t provide answers so she took the bull by the horns, identifying trigger foods and adopting a diet that incorporates several fermented foods. Starting out with a recipe passed along from her partner Rob Strachan’s mother, Leclair took a trial-and-error approach to come up with her ideal brew in the summer of 2016.

Within days, friends were asking for a sample, and today, Wolseley Kombucha is sold on tap at Boon Burger and Circle Kitchen, in reusable bottles at Generation Green and in single-serving sizes at Yoga Public, her go-to yoga studio.

It’s also available for purchase at farmers’ and craft markets — customers can buy refillable bottles or bring their own to fill from a kegerator for $10 per litre. Read More →

Putting down roots: Now settled in Winnipeg, Student Refugee Program grad sets sights on the rest of Canada

August 21, 2018

Since completing Red River College’s Applied Accounting program last spring, Wasim Alkabani has not slowed down.

The 33-year-old — one of the first students to be brought to RRC under sponsorship by the Student Refugee Program — graduated in May 2017, and has since been working full-time as a finance coordinator for Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada’s largest food distribution network, which includes Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills and Shoppers Drug Mart.

“Getting my first job here is something I’m proud of,” Alkabani says. “It’s a good experience. I used to work as a finance coordinator back home (in Syria and Lebanon). I’m learning new stuff every day.”

Alkabani also works part-time as a sales associate at Best Buy, a job that has helped him to connect with new friends while earning some extra pocket cash to explore the country. In recent months, he’s been exploring as much of Canada as he can, visiting Banff for a ski trip, as well as Calgary and Edmonton, and than back to Banff to experience the park’s summer beauty and attractions. Next on his list, he’s hoping to head to Toronto, and then even further West to visit Vancouver.

“I want to see as much of the country as I can,” he says. “I have a lot of fun exploring new places.” Read More →

Joint Business Administration degree program launched with Booth University College

August 1, 2018

Anyone passing by Faith Uminga last spring would be forgiven for doing a double take. If she looked familiar, it’s probably because she was the face of a new billboard campaign promoting the RRC 2+2 program— a joint venture between Red River College and Booth University College.

In partnership with RRC, Booth UC recently established a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree completion program, of which Uminga is poised to become the very first graduate.

She first heard about the program — in which students attend RRC for two years, then complete their degree at Booth UC — while taking Business Administration at RRC.

The advantages seemed obvious.

“First, I’d be able to experience two different learning environments — Red River College and Booth UC,” she explains. “Second, after my studies at RRC, I’d have the opportunity to complete my degree in two years, rather than in three years at other universities such as the University of Winnipeg or the University of Manitoba.”

Under the 2+2 program, students establish competence in five major areas of business, including accounting, finance, human resource management, marketing and organizational behaviour. A degree achieved through the program lays the foundation for a successful profit or non-profit career, in roles such as business analyst, market researcher, fundraiser, loan officer or financial advisor. Read More →

Cause and effects: Digital Media grad making movie magic as VFX supervisor for local film scene

July 26, 2018

‘Was that real, or computerized?’

These days, it’s getting harder for movie-goers to tell the difference. CGI, VR and visual effects are spreading across the big screens like (digitally altered) wildfire — meaning Red River College alum Andrew Degryse chose the right film career path at the right time.

Degryse, a 2007 Digital Media Technology (now Digital Media Design) graduate, specializes in making things look like they’re happening when they’re really not. In other words, he’s a visual effects supervisor.

Smoke, fire, blood, water — you name it, Degryse has faked it. When a director needed it to look like there was cold breath coming from an actor’s mouth because it wasn’t cold enough that day (in Winnipeg, believe it or not), Degryse made it happen.

When Keanu Reeves shot an airport scene on the local set of Siberia (in theatres this summer), Degryse added a computer-generated jet. And when the recently shot horror reboot The Grudge (in theatres next year) was before cameras this summer, he was responsible for supervising many of the sure-to-be gory scenes.

“Basically my job is making sure that we shoot things properly on set and we capture camera data so that the visual effects can be successful once the film goes into post-production,” Degryse says. “If we need to put tracking marks on a shot, or if there’s green screen, we have to capture it in a way that ensures it’s something the effects artist can successfully use.”

If it sounds complex, that’s because it is. Visual FX supervisors have to be extremely meticulous, work well with others, and be exceptional at time management — skills that few Digital Media grads leave RRC without attaining.

“It’s the Red River way,” laughs Degryse, who describes his educational experience as “intense” and not unlike life on a film set, where he might have as little as 10 minutes to coordinate a crucial, FX-laden scene. “My motto with anything I do is that nothing’s ever perfect, you just run out of time,” he says.

Read More →