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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 →

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 →

College appoints new Truth and Reconciliation Manager to lead in commitments to Indigenous Education Blueprint

February 7, 2019

Carla Kematch, Red River CollegeAs part of its commitment to advancing Indigenous achievement while strengthening ties between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, Red River College has appointed its first Manager of Truth and Reconciliation and Community Engagement.

Carla Kematch will lead the College in its commitment to Manitoba’s Indigenous Education Blueprint, a pledge to advance Indigenous education in the province — and to make Manitoba a centre of excellence for Indigenous education, research, languages and culture.

As one of nine post-secondary signatories to the Blueprint — which takes action on recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada — the College recognizes it has an important, proactive role to play in supporting reconciliation efforts in the province.

“A key priority for the College is to strengthen our partnerships and continue to advance Indigenous achievement in our communities, and education is the key to improving the lives of Indigenous people and to improving Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations across Canada,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy.

“Our role as a college is to ensure we create the programs, supports and opportunities that allow Indigenous people to demonstrate their leadership and innovation in all facets of our society. We are looking forward to the skills, experience and perspective that Carla will bring to the team as we address Truth and Reconciliation throughout the College.”

Kematch arrives at RRC with 30 years’ experience working within Indigenous communities in a variety of capacities, including the development of training programs for staffs, community clients, board members and other partners, in areas such as policy development, needs assessment, implementation plans, and evaluation and delivery of group training. Read More →

Commitment to lifelong learning earns RRC its ninth Top Employer designation

November 28, 2018

It’s no secret that Red River College, Manitoba’s largest institute of applied learning, exists to educate and train students across Manitoba. Today, RRC celebrates its commitment to creating personal and professional learning opportunities for employees — almost half of whom are alumni themselves — an accomplishment that once again earns the College a spot on Manitoba’s Top Employer list for nine years running.

“When it comes to educating students, providing training and research opportunities, and meeting the needs of industry — what we’re doing is working,” says Melanie Gudmundson, RRC’s Chief Human Resource Officer. “And it’s the dedicated efforts of our staff and faculty members who make this statement a reality every day, through their commitment to the College and our students.

“This is why we are continually striving to build a work environment that has programs and supports, including training and professional development opportunities, that ensure staff and faculty success.”

Learning is a core value at Red River College, which is committed to providing an exceptional learning environment for employees, as well as students. As such, the College focuses on staff learning and development-related activities and events, led by industry experts and members of the larger RRC community.

“Every week you will hear of a different department hosting an event. From research lunch and learns, to traditional Sweat Lodge ceremonies, to mental health speaker series, to daily fitness classes — there are countless opportunities for staff to engage in new professional and personal development activities,” says Gudmundson. Read More →

Celebration of trades and technologies on display at new RRC facility

November 15, 2018

With a little help from its Robot-in-ResidenceBaxter, Red River College joined with the Province of Manitoba yesterday to officially open the new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre (STTC) at the Notre Dame Campus.

Education and Training Minister Kelvin Goertzen led the official ceremonies, and assisted Baxter with his task of opening RRC’s newest addition.

“Careers in the skilled trades are in high demand across the province and this building creates the opportunity for more Manitobans to receive top-level training that will keep our industries ahead of the curve,” said Goertzen.

“We are pleased to have invested $61.6 million to help Red River College develop an inspired learning environment with state-of the-art equipment that takes post-secondary training to new heights.”

Spanning 104,000 square feet, the STTC will boost RRC’s training capacity by 30 per cent, providing training and education for up to 1,000 students a year in high-demand trades, including:

  • Electrical
  • Carpentry
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Manufacturing Computer Aided Drafting (CAD)
  • Manufacturing Technician
  • Precision Metal Machining
  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
  • Technology Management

“For 80 years we’ve created programs and innovative learning spaces that equip our grads with the right skills and experience to meet the needs of our province’s economy and its workforce.

“The STTC is part of the ongoing growth we’ve been experiencing at Red River College – and today, we’re not just celebrating the trades, we’re putting them at the forefront of what we do,” said RRC President Paul Vogt (shown, second from left). Read More →

A family affair: RRC confirms ‘IT’ couple as Distinguished Graduate Award recipients

October 5, 2018

Red River College is proud to announce the latest recipients of its Distinguished Graduate Award: husband and wife Stu and Heather Charles, both graduates of RRC’s Computer Analyst/Programmer program, now known as Business Information Technology (BIT). 

The pair will be honoured by the College and their peers at the upcoming BIT 50thAnniversary Gala, a celebration of a half-century of information technology training at RRC taking place Sat., Nov. 3, at the Club Regent Event Centre.

“We are very proud to honour Stu and Heather, two successful and very deserving recipients who now join the ranks of such notable graduates as national news anchor Dawna Friesen, entrepreneur and philanthropist Bob Tallman, and WWE superstar Chris Jericho,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“Throughout the College’s 80-year history, fewer than 40 graduates have been nominated for this prestigious award. After walking through these doors, each has gone on to do great things — giving back to their communities, and celebrating the education that helped them get to where they are today. Stu and Heather are no exception.”

Stu and Heather met at RRC back in 1977, when both were enrolled in the CAP program. They shared an immediate interest in the then-burgeoning field of computer programming and communicating with computers.

“Red River College is where it all started for us,” says Heather. “It was a place that gave us our first opportunity to enter into a new and emerging field and meet 75 like-minded people who were interested in learning more about computers.

“From meeting each other in school, to supporting each other’s careers and aspirations, to receiving this award, we’ve lived and breathed this experience together and it’s really shaped us into who we are today. I believe it’s one of many reasons that we both continue to support the College.” Read More →

First class of students welcomed to new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre

August 28, 2018

This week, thousands of students began their studies at Red River College campuses across the province, including — for the first time ever — at RRC’s new 104,000-sq. ft., state-of-the-art Skilled Trades and Technology Centre.

The new STTC will increase trades and technology training spaces at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus by more than 30 per cent, and will prepare up to 1,000 students a year for careers in high-demand industries including carpentry, electrical, and mechanical and manufacturing.

The facility is home to new classrooms, labs and shop space, and is expected to play a key role in boosting Manitoba’s workforce by 75,000 highly trained people by 2020.

In addition to opening the doors of the STTC, the College will also mark a number of other back-to-school milestones this month, including a new series of student orientation sessions, the launch of new programs, awards and bursary opportunities, and a full slate of events and activities hosted by the RRC Students’ Association.

“The first day of school is always a mix of excitement and nerves, whether it’s the start of a new program or the start of another year in a student’s educational journey,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“We look forward to welcoming students back to our nine campuses across Manitoba, and — for the first time — to our dynamic new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, a facility equipped with the latest in teaching technology and hands-on learning spaces.”

Last year, RRC welcomed more than 22,000 students through its doors over the course of the academic year. While current enrolment figures are still being tallied, early indications suggest most programs are near-capacity or full.

Pressure cooker: RRC instructor and former student to face the heat together at national culinary contest

June 7, 2018

Next week, Culinary Arts instructor Chef Gordon Bailey will return to his old stomping grounds in P.E.I., to represent Manitoba at the senior level of the Canadian Culinary Federation’s national competition.

And while the contest is sure to be the usual high-pressure affair, Bailey says the most exciting part so far has been coaching his junior representative — former Red River College student Argie Garcia.

An RRC instructor since 2013, Bailey describes Garcia as a gifted person who cares about his cooking, has a solid work ethic, and performs well under pressure.

“Cooking is about listening to the environment and the food,” says Bailey (shown above), who in 1999 moved from Winnipeg to Charlottetown, where he opened Lot 30, one of P.E.I.’s most celebrated restaurants.

“Food is something where your passion can be distinctly read through the taste and presentation of your plate. A good cook can put their personal story in it, and [Garcia] does that.”

This year’s competition also takes place in Charlottetown, as part of the Culinary Federation’s 55th annual national conference. The contest consists of a Black Box Challenge — similar to the Mystery Box Challenge on TV’s MasterChef — in which competitors from each province will be given 15 minutes to create a menu using a batch of secret ingredients and pantry staples, and an hour to prepare and plate their servings. Read More →