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Early child development resource continues to grow with global reach

February 3, 2023

It started as a way to reduce the gap between early childhood education and research. Today, RRC Polytech’s Science of Early Child Development (SECD) initiative has impacted the work of early childhood educators (ECEs) both here in Canada and on a global scale.

“There’s been a massive explosion in neuroscience and understanding of the child’s brain and how that has informed early brain development,” says Jamie Koshyk, a research faculty member in the School of Health Sciences and Community Services at RRC Polytech.

“These new discoveries impact your life. It’s a lifelong trajectory that starts very early on.”

SECD began as a partnership between RRC Polytech, the Atkinson Centre at the University of Toronto and the Aga Khan Development Network. It’s what’s known as a “dynamic knowledge mobilization initiative” — essentially, bridging complex research on understanding a child’s brain and turning that research into resources and courses that professionals and students can easily understand.

“By the time a researcher has a discovery and gets it into a textbook, it’s a process of a number of years,” says Elin Ibrahim, who leads the SECD initiative. “The whole idea of having it online and having it continually updated — and current — was attractive, and one of the major reasons that it all got started.”

Today, the SECD initiative includes four “living textbooks,” as the initiative calls them, which use a multimedia approach to share information. They include expert interviews, images, video examples of children, parents and caregivers, slideshows, websites, readings, questions for reflection, interactive games, activities and much more. It’s a modern way of learning and one that’s in high demand.

“In each of the modules, there’s always an overview, a research section and then there’s links to practice,” says Ibrahim. “That was another goal of ours: to look at how to make research practical. To do that, we organize it through different topics and modules, but also to bring in the practical — both for those working with early childhood students and for anyone working with children.” Read More →

The great exchange: Brazilian teaching candidate finds cold weather, warm hearts in Winnipeg

December 9, 2022

Adão Lopes da Fonseca feels he was always destined to become a teacher. As a young child growing up in rural Brazil, he remembers constantly suggesting that family members of all ages play school with him, as long as he was the one leading the classes.

His passion for education never waned and he continued his studies with a goal of one day teaching English to the Portuguese-speaking middle and high school students of his homeland — but he never dreamed he’d end up perfecting his second language in Winnipeg.

That is, until he discovered that his excellent grades and achievements made him a prime candidate for an exchange program between post-secondary partners RRC Polytech and Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Ceará (IFCE).

It was an opportunity he couldn’t resist.

“It’s no longer something to dream of because I am living proof it can happen!” says Lopes da Fonseca. “I knew very little about the city, but my research warned me it would be frightfully cold, so my family was a bit worried. I was just excited about living a whole new life and making connections with so many new people.”

Adão Lopes da Fonseca, in snow-covered forestLopes da Fonseca’s four-month stint as a visiting student at the College’s Exchange District Campus is about to end, and while he had to wait until his final few weeks for winter to arrive, a recent cold snap has given him a new appreciation of the term “freezing.” As such, he’s grateful for those new people in his life who taught him how to dress to stay warm.

He will soon return home and present a report to his class on all the things he’s learned through the program, before collecting his English-Portuguese teaching certificate and license to teach middle and high school. He received a scholarship to come to Canada from his prospective employer, the Brazilian government, which will benefit from his experience observing classes, participating in lectures and seminars, and studying English for Academic Purposes teaching methodologies at RRC Polytech’s Language Training Centre (LTC).

“The main challenge to learning English is pronunciation, because in Latin America they have good comprehension, they can read, they can understand really well, but they lack conversation, which is needed to speak confidently,” he says.

“Most of the activities at the LTC are in groups, so when the instructors give out a task, everyone really helps each other and when you see that someone really wants to learn, it gives you the inspiration to give your best as a teacher.” Read More →

Eight RRC Polytech programs granted national accreditation

November 29, 2022

Today, RRC Polytech marked the accreditation of eight of its programs by Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC).

The accreditation is the result of a comprehensive audit that includes a tour of each program’s labs and student support services, and interviews with its students, faculty, alumni and graduates’ employers.

The eight programs that received accreditation are: 

·      Electronic Engineering Technology 

·      Electrical Engineering Technology 

·      Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology

·      Mechanical Engineering Technology

·      Structural Engineering Technology

·      Architectural/Engineering Technology

·      Municipal Engineering Technology

·      Environmental Engineering Technology

“Achieving accreditation for these programs is a real win-win,” says Derek Kochenash, Dean, School of Skilled Trades and Technologies at RRC Polytech. “Not only does accreditation open doors to even more career opportunities for our students, it provides our partners in industry with the essential talent to help their organizations achieve their goals. 

“RRC Polytech is grateful to Technology Accreditation Canada for this acknowledgment. The accreditation reflects the high quality of these eight programs, while enhancing graduates’ credentials as they enter the workforce.”

National program accreditation provides students, industry and RRC Polytech with confirmation their program has met defined standards. 

Accreditation also affords graduates an expedited path to certification through the Certified Technicians & Technologists Association of Manitoba (CTTAM) and provincial certifying bodies across Canada.

“We congratulate each program for its commitment to delivering to students a high quality program that meets the current standards of the engineering technology and applied science profession,” says Stephen Morley, Chair of TAC’s board of directors. 

RRC Polytech launches new Portage Innovation Centre with contest for young entrepreneurs

September 22, 2022

This weekend, entrepreneurs and innovators (aged 15–30) will have the chance to win $1,000 dollars towards starting their new business, during the Portage Innovation Centre’s grand opening event: Innovate to Launch.

The new Centre, located at RRC Polytech’s Portage Campus, was created through a partnership between the College and Communities Building Youth Futures to provide access to equipment, expertise and training for entrepreneurs and makers in Portage la Prairie and the surrounding area.

“RRC Polytech is a proud partner in this new initiative that will provide office spaces, shared meeting rooms and access to a fabrication laboratory with a 3D printer, Cricut 3 machine, heavy duty sewing machine, laser engraver and a multi-function printer,” says Guy Moffat, Regional Manager at the Portage Campus. “We’re excited to also provide the assistance of RRC Polytech students and human resources support as these young entrepreneurs launch new businesses.”

The Portage Innovation Centre, located in the lower level of the campus, is free/low-cost space for young entrepreneurs and innovators to launch businesses. Community partners will provide free workshops to all applicants on the essentials of starting a business or venture, including legal and accounting advice.

“Finding ways that young people in this community can stretch their entrepreneurial muscles is always a good thing,” says Chuck Davidson, CEO and President, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. “When the community is able to come together like this, it allows incredible business ideas to come to life and helps create vibrant communities, economic development, entrepreneurial success and a strong future for Manitoba.”

Innovate to Launch is a three-day (Sept. 22–24) innovation contest hosted by the Portage Innovation Centre where innovators will compete for a $1,000 prize — as well as free office space for a year — by writing a pitch for a new business idea. Each team or individual will be a assigned a mentor to help them with their idea and work through their pitch. Judges will decide on three winners and the top 10 teams will be offered $20 a month towards software or tools to develop their business.

A grand opening of the Portage Innovation Centre will take place on Sat., Sept.24 from 12:00–1:00 p.m. Members of the public are welcome to tour the space, including the fabrication laboratory.

College opens new Elgin Plaza, providing community greenspace for students downtown

September 1, 2022

Students returning to classes at RRC Polytech’s Exchange District Campus will have a new outdoor space to enjoy while studying and connecting with classmates.

Today, Red River College Polytechnic officially opened the Elgin Plaza, nestled between the new Manitou a bi Bii daziigae building and the existing Roblin Centre. The block of Elgin Avenue between Princess and Adelaide Streets was closed to vehicles, with support from the City of Winnipeg, to create a pedestrian plaza.

“We are proud to work with our partners to create a pedestrian connection between buildings, transforming learning spaces and making it feel like a community campus where genuine connections and shared experiences occur,” says RRC Polytech President Fred Meier (shown above, at centre). “Developments like this allow us to build on our partnerships and strengthen our shared vision to enhance the student experience.”

The space was designed by HTFC Planning and Design, and includes outdoor gardens, seating areas, recreational space, removable bollards that allow access for food trucks, a new projector to showcase student work and create community art, and ping pong tables and power outlets to help host outdoor events from students and community members.

When looking up, anyone standing in the Elgin Plaza will have a stunning view of local artist Jackie Traverse’s ceiling installation, which extends from Manitou a bi Bii daziigae’s fourth floor. The Elgin Plaza also features one of the College’s new rainbow walkways, which were unveiled earlier this week.

“The opening of Elgin Plaza is significant for Winnipeg’s downtown,” says Mayor Brian Bowman (shown above, at left). “The City of Winnipeg and RRC Polytech have a longstanding partnership and spaces like this help to bring people downtown and revitalize Winnipeg’s Exchange District. I’m pleased to see another space like this added in our downtown because spending time outdoors and in greenspaces has a positive impact on the well-being of residents in our community.” Read More →

Careers in construction management: Flexible program provides opportunities to enter workplace sooner, upskill for management roles

August 3, 2022

Construction is more than just steel-toed boots on the ground, with many leadership roles working on sites and behind-the-scenes to ensure planning and execution is completed to code. Demand is always high, especially in a city like Winnipeg, with ever-expanding commercial and residential opportunities.

That’s where the Construction Management degree program from RRC Polytech comes in. Uniquely positioned to give students a range of career choices, the program gives grads the option of three exit points for different levels of certification — or they can continue with the four-year program to get the full Bachelor degree. Students also have six months of paid co-op experience each summer to provide hands-on learning.

The result, according to program instructor Tammy Harper, is a grad who’s instantly hirable.

“When we were in-person for convocation, someone would always ask, ‘Who has a job right now?’ and pretty much all our students have their hands up, and really the ones that don’t are trying to decide which job to take.”

Harper’s focus for instruction is in leadership and human resources. Both are critical parts of the Construction Management program, which provides all students, even those with a skilled trades background, the opportunity to develop managerial expertise.

Harper teaches a leadership course that prepares grads for real-world challenges, including solution-based management,problem management, analytical thinking, conflict resolution, and how to be a leader that adapts to their employees’ needs.

“Being a leader is easy to say but hard to do, and part of it is being the leader your followers need. I try to teach them about different kinds of leadership — trying to figure out what your strengths are and what others’ strengths are, and how to lead that person in a way they can be successful.”

Technical learning is part of the path, too. Ellowyn Nadeau, also an instructor in the program, explains how students get more specialized as the terms go by — but still have that opportunity to step out on one of the exit points and learn in the workforce, if they so choose.

“In first and second year, it’s a lot of technical information — math and graphics, surveying, communication fundamentals — courses that give basic knowledge. Then third and fourth year are much more practical, very related to working in construction and courses become more specific,” Nadeau says.

“Exiting out of the second year gives you a credential you can sell to employers, and you can build your career that way. Exiting out of third year, you get more experience because of your co-ops and more practical pieces. And after four years, it’s a degree, on par with universities.”

Read More →

Careers in early childhood education: Whether starting out or upskilling, find the program that fits your next step

July 27, 2022

For those who love working with young children and helping them succeed, it’s never been a better time to turn that passion into a career.

“This is the time,” says Bryan Dueck, an RRC Polytech instructor in the Early Childhood Education – Workplace program.

“This is the most exciting time in the early childhood education field, certainly in recent history. There are substantial government incentives that are coming in within the month, there are very significant changes to the wage scale and career laddering, and there’s even tuition rebates with details forthcoming. If you have any interest in working with children, get in now — it’s a very exciting time.”

This new funding from both the provincial and federal levels has opened the doors for new positions, both in leadership and on the ground floor.

To help workers get trained and through those doors, RRC Polytech has two programs available: the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, which involves learning full-time before heading out on practicum, and the Early Childhood Education – Workplace program, which requires students to have at least one year’s experience in the field and allows them to take courses part-time while continuing to work.

For the latter, students will come in seeking an ECE Level 2 designation from the province, which allows them to take on more supervisory roles in child-care settings, from room leadership to managing a centre.

“We would typically see students that have been in the field longer than that one year,” says Dueck. “The vast majority of them are looking to leadership positions already. Many of our students kind of know where they’re headed.

“Often, we’ll see our students within a few months of graduating overseeing curriculum for a smaller group — about 16 children — and have about two or three staff under their supervision. That happens quite quickly.”

This is the experience of ECE Workplace grad Amanda Jack, who graduated from the program in 2016 and now has taken on multiple leadership roles thanks to what she learned in the program.

“The program helped me so much with taking skills I already had and helping me hone them,” says Jack (shown above). “They helped make me better, not only in the path I chose in life, but also as a person. Immediately after graduating, I was promoted at my job and then multiple times again in the years that followed. Now, I’m managing one 50-space child-care centre and overseeing two others.”

Read More →

Careers in mechanical engineering technology: Grads well-prepared for industry, whether building work spaces or the next wave of transportation

July 20, 2022

When asked to describe the complex work of mechanical engineers, RRC Polytech instructor Sergei Broeska turns to the movies.

“In Iron Man, they show Tony Stark designing the suit — and he’s pulling stuff, interacting with a computer, then he just presses a button called ‘build.’”

“What that movie does to manufacturing is it walks all over it, because it doesn’t include design, all the steps that go into the process. It takes hundreds of people to make one component, and you don’t know that until you experience it.”

The actual step-by-step processes are at the core of RRC Polytech’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program, a 28-month diploma offering that prepares students to work in the design and production of high-quality manufactured goods.

Broeska has taught in MET since 2019, working mostly in manufacturing-based courses. Students are also trained in other areas such as design, quality assurance, computer-aided engineering, and building systems design and control.

“They certainly get a sample of everything,” says Tanya Hansen-Pratt, a first-year instructor in the program. “In mechatronics, for example, we’re covering mechanical, electrical and computer engineering and really showing them the possibilities of what’s out there. They’re getting a taste of a lot of things, and then they can specialize as they go further on in their education.”

RRC Polytech instructor Sergei Broeska

One of the main advantages of the program — two, actually — are co-op terms after the first and second years in the classroom. These four-month opportunities for students to work in the industry allow them to return to the classroom, or enter the workforce, with a much better idea of what will be asked of them in their careers.

“It is an incredible experience for the students,” says Broeska (shown at left).

“They’re so much more enlightened, and the lightbulb is on, and when I say something, they can put two and two together because they’ve experienced it. They often come back so much more mature with their professionalism. Because they’ve worked at a company, they come back with a bunch of knowledge that they’ve applied.”

“We’re not just using this information because we’re trying to be mean,” agrees Hansen-Pratt with a laugh.

“They’ve now seen it applied in the real world and they can say, ‘Oh, that’s why this is so important,’ and that really helps them in the following terms by taking that real-world knowledge and applying it in the classroom.”

Read More →

College launches new IT program for Indigenous students as part of RBC Foundation gift

June 20, 2022

Today, Indigenous learners interested in pursuing a career in Manitoba’s information technology (IT) sector will have access to a new program offered at RRC Polytech, thanks to a $450,000 gift from RBC.

This most recent gift — alongside funding for other programs and platforms that connect diverse students to their ideas, potential, and one another — makes for a million-dollar friendship.

“When community partners like RBC connect with RRC Polytech to create globally needed programs, we’re ready to answer the call,” said Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech.

“This new pathway program is designed to equip Indigenous Manitobans with the skills and support required to transition into selected programs at RRC Polytech. With the move to remote and hybrid work and heavy reliance on technology, the world of IT operations is growing every day, and RRC Polytech’s students are in high demand.”

RBC has been a longstanding partner of RRC Polytech, and today, both organizations are celebrating over $1M in support. These gifts have provided mentorship and internship opportunities for students through such initiatives as Ten Thousand Coffees and Riipen, and sponsorship for the annual Directions Conference. They have also made possible a series of Reaction by Collision events, the latest of which served as host to today’s announcement about the new Pathway to Information Technology Programs offering.

“We at RBC are delighted to support the new Pathway to Information Technology Programs with this gift,” said Kim Ulmer, RBC’s Regional President. “Representation in industry, access to education, and tapping into the incredible talents of Indigenous people matters to all of us. We are so proud to further deepen our longtime friendship with RRC Polytech, while helping give space to new and innovative ideas in areas of information technology.”      Read More →

RRC Polytech adopts 2SLGBTQIA+ acronym and raises Progress Pride flag

June 15, 2022

RRC Polytech has committed to embed equity, diversity, and inclusion into all work done at the College and is always looking for ways to advance meaningful change.

Moving forward, the College will use the acronym 2SLGTBQIA+ to respectfully acknowledge members of the Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and the countless affirmative ways in which people choose to self-identify community.

The College is placing Two Spirit People at the beginning of this evolving acronym, out of respect for their longevity, and their importance and status in Indigenous beliefs and traditions, after consultation and collaboration with our Elders in Residence and Knowledge Keepers Council.

“I’ve always advocated to recognize Two Spirit first because if we are going to talk about truth and reconciliation within Canada and recognize and acknowledge Indigenous people, including Two Spirit people, we should put them at the beginning. I’ve never understood why we are at the end,” says Barbara Bruce, O.M., All My Relations Inc., and RRC Polytech Knowledge Keepers Council.

“Placing the 2S at the beginning of the acronym is recognizing the original peoples of Canada — First Nation, Métis Nation and Inuit Two Spirit people — and it’s acknowledging who those people are. I think everybody should embrace this stance.” Read More →