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Technical support: Interlake instructor gives Computer Skills course an upgrade

April 11, 2019

Dr. Kasongo Kalanda began his journey with technology and education at a time — and in a place — where few people had even heard of computers.

Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kalanda’s options for post-secondary education were similarly limited as a young man, but he managed to find an opening at a private university, where he was among the first students to register for Computer Studies.

“It was the only available opportunity,” says Kalanda, now a Computer Skills instructor at Red River College’s Interlake and Peguis – Fisher River Campus. “I took things seriously from there and told myself it was this or nothing.”

Kalanda earned a bachelor’s degree in Science and a master’s in Computer Science from L’Institut supérieur d’informatique programmation et analyse (L’I.S.I.P.A.), before moving to pursue both a second master’s and a doctorate in Computing Education from the University of South Africa.

While there, he ran into a problem when his master’s thesis was required in English, a language he’d never had the opportunity to learn. Kalanda asked for three months to figure out how to read and write in English. He says it wasn’t easy, and compared it to a “do-or-die” situation.

In 2008, he was invited to participate in a Microsoft-sponsored program that trained teachers in how to integrate technology into education. During a brainstorming workshop, Kalanda helped come up with the idea to create a classroom technology integration competition for teachers using a World Cup Soccer model.

The end results were called School Technology Innovation Centres, an initiative for which Kalanda became manager for Africa and the Middle East, eventually travelling to more than 50 countries between 2008 and 2013. Read More →

SpaRRCky flies: Student-built electric car cracks top 10 at Shell Eco-marathon

April 10, 2019

For the second year running, a team of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology students from Red River College have taken their battery-electric vehicle — dubeed SpaRRCky — to Sonoma, California for the Shell Eco-marathon.

The team beat their personal best, moving from a 14th-place finish last year to seventh overall in the battery electric category. And while this year’s race was ultimately a success, it wasn’t without its challenges.

“Going into our first run was the most nerve-racking part of the competition,” says team captain Joel Turner, an Electrical Engineering Technology student at RRC. “Our first set of available runs had been postponed due to rain, which furthered our nervousness, but as soon as we got off the line it was high fives and smiles all around!”

Nerves aside, the team also had to deal with various technical challenges. During the first run, SpaRRCky’s cover came loose and the team’s driver (Samantha Sousa, a Welding student who also constructed the racer’s steering knuckle) had to pull over for her own safety and the safety of the others on the track.

“Once we got the car back, we quickly brainstormed and fixed the problem on the fly, got SpaRRCky back in line, and were able to make the next run,” says Turner.

Students with battery-electric racerSousa noted that the first run track was the most nerve-wracking part of the competition, thanks in part to the weather.

“The rain was pushing our time slot back and the pavement was slick. I also had not driven SpaRRCky on pavement yet, only in the gym as we still had snow in Winnipeg,” she says.

But the stress didn’t stop there. “After our third run, a housing bolt had become stripped and we could not attempt another run with the vehicle in this condition,” says Turner.

Thanks to the team’s quick thinking and a visit to a local hardware store, they were able to make the fix and move on to the next run and a seventh-place finish. Read More →

University of King’s College data journalism school coming to RRC

April 8, 2019

Red River College, the University of King’s College and the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) are teaming up to bring Canada’s best data journalism training to Winnipeg.

For more than a decade, King’s summer data schools have trained journalists from across the country in basic data journalism skills, including how to find, clean and analyze data, and how to use that data to find and tell compelling stories.

That same training will now be offered at RRC from May 5 to 10, right after CAJ19, the CAJ’s annual conference.

“For people on the Prairies and in Northwestern Ontario, Halifax can seem an awfully long way to go for training,” says Fred Vallance-Jones, lead instructor in the program and associate professor at King’s. “So we decided to bring exactly the same content to Winnipeg.”

King’s data schools have trained journalists from some of Canada’s biggest news outlets — including the Winnipeg Free Press, the CBC, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail — as well as those from many smaller outlets.

Journalists who know how to work with data open up new opportunities in their careers, and can find and tell stories others miss.

“Journalists with data skills are prized in in newsrooms for being able to see stories in new ways and ferret out what’s really going on,” says RRC Journalism instructor James Turner, a graduate of King’s 2017 data school. “This training is a worthwhile investment for any journalist or newsroom wanting to offer their audiences bigger, more meaty stories.” Read More →

RRC becomes province’s first post-secondary to offer credit for Armed Forces experience

April 5, 2019

Red River College has entered into a new partnership that will help Canada’s veterans and current members of the Canadian Armed Forces trade the experience they gained serving our country for a diploma.

As part of the announcement, RRC signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government’s National Advanced Placement & Prior Learning (N-APPL) program, which supports the recognition of military experience in post-secondary settings. Thanks to the agreement, veterans and reservists now have the opportunity to turn their training and experience into academic credits.

“The strength of Red River College is our ability to be agile in meeting student needs and the changing needs of our economy,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “Not only does this partnership formally recognize military service, it allows the College to offer a broad talent pool for employers and open new career paths for Canadians who serve our country.”

The agreement makes RRC the first post-secondary institution in the province to formally acknowledge that skills, training and experience acquired through military service can be applied towards a college diploma.

RRC will pilot the project by fast-tracking veterans and reservists into the second year of its Business Administration program, with plans to expand to other program areas in the future. Read More →

Designer genes: College and partners launch new genetic mapping initiative

March 22, 2019

This week, Red River College became the first educational facility in Western Canada to unveil its own next generation sequencing (NGS) device, thanks to a new partnership aimed at putting the power of genetic mapping in the hands of the general populace.

Genome360 is an initiative launched by not-for-profit group Genome Prairie and a consortium of funding partners, with the goal of building a hub for genomics and phenomics capabilities in the province. Bolstered by a $2.3-million investment, the initiative aims to propel Manitoba to prominence in the genomics sector.

iSeq100 equipmentIncluded in the investment is the College’s new iSeq100, a small but powerful machine — not much bigger than a microwave — that allows for improved DNA mapping and could open up new developments in medicine and agriculture.

Designed for simplicity, the iSeq100 allows labs of all sizes to sequence DNA rapidly and with high accuracy. The equipment will provide RRC students with the hands-on training needed to excel within laboratories and to thrive as practitioners in this growing field.

“One of Red River College’s strengths is having the ability to introduce and train our students on new and emerging technology,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “The addition of the iSeq100 will ensure that students graduating from RRC will have the knowledge, confidence and experience to meet the needs of industry today, and into the future.”

Also on display at this week’s announcement was a prototype Molecular Biology Interactive Learning Enterprise (MOBILE) lab — developed in partnership with Westward Industries to demonstrate and offer organizations access to field-deployable devices. The electric-powered MOBILE lab (shown above) provides storage, transport and sufficient workspace to bring the laboratory into the field or the classroom.

“The Genome360 initiative provides a unique combination of capacity and expertise for the wide distribution and democratization of advanced genetic technologies in the province of Manitoba and beyond,” says Dr. Simon Potter, Genome Prairie’s Chief Scientific Officer. “We look forward to working with the community to realize the economic and social benefits inherent in this exciting venture.”

Transportation trailblazer makes milestone $1.5M donation to Red River College

March 15, 2019

A transportation pioneer will help Red River College train the next generation of industry achievers, and ensure the viability of Manitoba’s skilled workforce for decades to come.

Jan den Oudsten — founder and former president of New Flyer Industries, and inventor of leading-edge transit technology — along with his wife, Maria den Oudsten, is donating $1.5 million to RRC, one of the largest gifts the College has ever received from individual donors.

Maria and Jan den Oudsten with RRC President Paul Vogt“I spent much of my life in an industry I am passionate about, and am incredibly humbled to be able to give back and inspire the next generation of learners,” says den Oudsten (shown above, with Maria and son Bob). “Working and living in Winnipeg was the best time of my life. Winnipeg has the best bus builders in the world, and it is my hope that with this gift that reputation of excellence can continue for many more years.”

RRC is celebrating the transformative gift by officially renaming its Heavy Equipment Transportation Centre. The 60,000-sq.-ft. training and research facility will now be proudly known as the Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology & Research Centre (VTRC).

The expansive complex was built in 2008, and was one of the first education centres in Manitoba to receive LEED® Silver certification from the Canada Green Building Council. Every day, close to 170 students at VTRC are trained in transportation technology programs such as Heavy Duty Mechanic, Truck Transport Mechanic (apprenticeship), Trailer Mechanic (apprenticeship), Outdoor Power Equipment (certificate and apprenticeship) and specialized training for General Motors.

VTRC also works with industry partners such as New Flyer to drive applied research in vehicle technology and development, and to support the transportation industry on energy conservation and alternatives (such as electrification), cold-weather testing and technology integration. Read More →

Coast Guard donates surplus helicopter to RRC’s Stevenson Campus

March 7, 2019

Red River College’s aircraft maintenance training got a welcome lift yesterday, thanks to the donation of a surplus Coast Guard helicopter that’ll help support the development of skilled aerospace industry personnel.

Today at RRC’s Stevenson Campus, the federal government presented the College with a Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm BO105 helicopter — one of 10 such assets being donated to training institutions across Canada.

“I am proud that these Coast Guard helicopters will help develop students across the country, allowing them to have practical and hands-on experience,” said Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a written release. “These assets have a lot of history and are part of the Coast Guard’s heritage. I am glad that they will benefit generations to come in building high-level maintenance expertise.”

The copters were in service with the Coast Guard for more than 30 years, the first having been purchased in 1985, and the last in 1988. The fleet played an essential role in supporting programs such as icebreaking, marine communication, navigation aids, environmental response, waterway protection, science, conservation and protection.

The helicopter donated to RRC will be used as part of aerospace and aviation training at the Stevenson Campus in Winnipeg, where it joins a fleet of roughly 12 planes and helicopters, most of which were also donated by industry and government partners.

“They are teaching tools, and this hangar is a classroom,” said RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above at right, with MP Doug Eyolfson). “This campus is ground control, and we are steering students with a clear path forward to a rewarding career by providing them with the training, knowledge and skills that this fast-paced and ever-changing industry demands.”

“After 30 years, this incredible piece of equipment may be retired from active service in the Coast Guard fleet, but its next chapter and journey is just beginning here at RRC.”

Culinary instructors to rep RRC at showcase celebrating International Women’s Day

March 5, 2019

A quartet of Red River College instructors will join prominent chefs from across the city for an annual culinary showcase celebrating International Women’s Day this weekend.

Culinary Arts and Professional Baking instructors Chantalle Noschese, Kimberly Cooke, Lylah Erkau and Melissa Hyrb (shown above, from left to right) will represent RRC at this year’s Women, Wine & Food fundraiser for the Women’s Health Clinic (WHC) in Winnipeg.

The event — which takes place Friday night at the Manitoba Museum — was first cooked up by RRC alum Kelly Cattani (Culinary Arts, 2005), now the chef at catering service Bluestone Cottage.

Working with Janet Hamel, Director of Development at WHC, Cattani coordinated both the event and its all-female lineup as a means of benefiting the community-based clinic, which has supported women through health services, education and advocacy since 1981.

Come Friday, participating chefs will serve up a mouth-watering menu of canapes, which will then be paired with wine and beer tastings from local vendors.

Members of the RRC team won’t be the only participants with ties to the College. This year’s lineup of chefs also includes Culinary Arts grads Jackie Hildebrand (Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar), Connie Klassen (Pizzeria Gusto), Melissa Makarenko (Resto Gare Bistro & Train Bar), Kristel Pastorin (The Grove), Tara Podaima (Little Sister Coffee Maker) and Chinnie Ramos (Mon Ami Louis).

Design student infuses Indigenous culture into Jets and Moose logos

February 8, 2019

Leticia Spence says she’s disappointed when designers resort to using general symbols or motifs, like a feather or a circle with four points, to represent Indigenous cultures.

Which is why Spence, a Graphic Design student at Red River College, wanted to take a more authentic approach when collaborating with True North Sports + Entertainment (TNSE) on versions of the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose logos to celebrate Indigenous culture.

She made a point of doing research, reviewing artifacts, learning from modern Indigenous artists and asking members of her own family and community, Pimicikamak First Nation, for help when she started the design process.

The logos are being used to promote two special hockey games: the Winnipeg Jets WASAC (Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre) Night on Sat., Feb. 16, and the Manitoba Moose Follow Your Dreams Day on Sun., Feb. 17.

Leticia Spence's Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose logos“Each tribe has a visual language to express their views of the world,” says Spence. “I wanted to show that we’re united by including motifs, symbols and patterns from many different Indigenous cultures and tribes in the logos.”

Josh Dudych, creative director for TNSE, says Spence helped them create a fully branded program with WASAC, including they weren’t sure what to do for the theme nights in partnership with WASAC, but in working with Spence, were able to create a full branding program that would get fans excited and show their respect for Indigenous culture.

“Through Leticia’s expertise we gained a much better understanding of how nuanced Indigenous art is, and how we can use it to celebrate Indigenous communities and engage with them,” says Dudych.

Spence came up with the concepts and designed the initial drafts, then worked with TNSE’s design team in their offices to complete the project.

“The majority of their team are RRC grads, so it was nice to be able to get advice for my future going forward,” she says. Read More →

Former Business student slays Dragons, lands lucrative deal for eyebrow-bar boutiques

February 8, 2019

Giovanna MinenniGiovanna Minenna, a former Business Administration student at Red River College, certainly knows a thing or two about raising eyebrows in Manitoba.

And the local entrepreneur — owner of boutique chain Brows by G — caught the eye of millions more people this week, when she and her husband and business partner, Scott Russell, entered TV’s notorious Dragons’ Den to make a pitch to some of Canada’s toughest and best-known investors.

The duo flew to Toronto late last year, but only recently announced to local media that they’d faced the infamous Dragons, leaving friends and clients anxiously awaiting the air date of last night’s episode.

During Minenna’s on-air pitch, the brow queen shared stories of her success here in Winnipeg, and asked for $400,000 for 16 per cent of her company in order to continue expanding across the country.

Her solid business plan and pitch prompted three of six Dragons to shoot fiery deals her way.

Jim Treliving, chairman and owner of Boston Pizza International, offered $400,000 for 20 per cent of the company, with an eye on helping the duo franchise. Manjit Minhaus, co-founder of Minhas Breweries, Distillery and Wineries, offered the same amount to help grow their cosmetic product line across the globe. Finally, renowned venture capitalist Arlene Dickinson matched her fellow Dragons’ offers, but with an added promise to build more corporate stores.

In the end, Dickinson tweezed out a successful deal.

But long before she was making pitches on TV, Minenna was shaping her career path right here at Red River College.

She says she started her educational journey like many her age — unsure of what she wanted to study or do for a living. She enrolled in university classes, but it wasn’t long before she realized she needed a career that sparked her creativity. Read More →