Rising through the ranks: New Dean’s background brought to bear on design, construction of STTC

September 17, 2018

In both his early career and its latest evolution, Derek Kochenash learned a lot about climbing ladders.

A Red Seal-endorsed Sheet Metal Worker, Kochenash has spent the last decade rising through the ranks at Red River College.

A 2001 Apprenticeship grad, he began working at the College in 2006 as a Related Math and Sciences instructor, and in 2010 became academic coordinator of the Related Math and Sciences Department.

Two years later, Kochenash was named Chair of the Electrical, Math and Sciences Department, and in 2017 took on the role of acting Dean of the School of Transportation, Aviation and Manufacturing.

Now, Kochenash is Dean of the School of Skilled Trades and Technologies, the newly amalgamated entity comprised of the School of Engineering and Construction Technology and the aforementioned School of Transportation, Aviation and Manufacturing.

“I never did have this as a goal. Each time that I’ve taken on new roles and moved up into larger responsibility positions, I’ve never ever predicted the future throughout the process,” says Kochenash, who also holds a M.Ed. from the University of Manitoba

“I’m very humbled and excited about the opportunity to be the Dean of this school, considering I started my career as a sheet metal worker and took my training here at RRC.”

“I’ve always taken on leadership roles. I love working with people to solve problems. I love trying to resolve conflicts. I’m passionate about that kind of work and that’s what drives me to take on these roles. Many people think I’m crazy, my wife included. ‘Why do you like that?’ I don’t know, but I do.” Read More →

Instrumentation grads design training skid for use by Engineering students at U of M

July 25, 2018

Demonstrating core institutional values of leadership, ingenuity and collaboration, a pair of Red River College students created a new process control training skid that’s being used by the University of Manitoba to prepare their own Engineering students for industry.

As part of their final-year engineering design project, Eric Champagne and Joao Fidencio — both recent graduates of RRC’s Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology program — partnered with Canadian firm Lakeside Process Controls on the skid, which is now a component of the U of M’s control engineering laboratory.

“Lakeside had been trying to find the time to design, build, test and commission a DeltaV process control training skid for the U of M’s Engineering lab for some time,” says RRC instructor David Bertin. “They had put some effort into it, but hadn’t been able to complete it, so our students took on the project.”

Fidencio, who was working as a summer student for Lakeside when the project first came up, asked his manager if he could take the lead and use it as his final project at RRC.

The form and construction of the skid were similar to one Bertin had designed earlier for the College, but there were enough differences to require a significant amount of additional work on the part of Fidencio and Champagne (shown above, at left and right).

The skid itself is an invaluable tool for Engineering students looking to develop their process control skills using the latest hardware and software on the market. Equipped with Emerson transmitters and control valves — plus state-of-the-art DeltaV software — it allows students to control pressure, level, flow and temperature the same way they would on the frontlines of industry, introducing new capabilities to the U of M that RRC has offered its own students for years. Read More →

RRC grad dominates at Manitoba men’s amateur golf championship

July 23, 2018

A Business Administration grad — and current Red River College staffer — made some serious waves on the fairway last week, maintaining a dominant lead to capture his first title in the Manitoba men’s amateur golf championship.

Justin McDonald — an accountant with RRC’s Finance department — quickly set himself apart from the pack during the first two rounds of play at Quarry Oaks last Monday and Tuesday, holding onto his lead for the final rounds at Glendale, and eventually finishing eight shots ahead of the field on Thursday afternoon.

The only golfer to finish the event under par, McDonald shot rounds of 68-70-73-74, for a four-round total of 285, or 3 under.

The Winnipeg Free Press described McDonald (who graduated from RRC’s Business Administration program in 2008) as arguably “the most impressive golfer of the summer,” noting he also took the provincial mid-amateur title at Falcon Lake on July 5 — with an equally dominant nine-stroke advantage.

Per the Free Press, McDonald hasn’t attended a driving range in years — and doesn’t hit balls before teeing off in tournaments, either — preferring to golf four to five times a week at Breezy Bend, instead.

McDonald’s clubmate Eric Johnson came second in the men’s amateur with a line of 69-73-73-78 to finish at 5 over, while Niakwa’s Todd Fanning finished third with a four-round total of 295.

Photo courtesy Golf Manitoba’s Twitter page.

Construction begins on new Innovation Centre downtown

July 20, 2018

With funding now in place, Red River College is moving forward this week with construction of its new $95-million Innovation Centre, plans for which had to be put on hold while financial arrangements were sorted out earlier this year.

College President Paul Vogt received confirmation from the government recently that the $40.6 million in funding required for the project is now secure, and the College can begin issuing tenders so that construction can get underway.

On Wednesday, stakeholders gathered at site of the new Centre — at 319 Elgin Ave., right across the street from RRC’s Roblin Centre — to learn more about how the College’s latest expansion plan will help transform the Exchange District.

“For those of you who have been following this project closely, and have been wondering if we are still moving forward, let me be the first to say ‘yes,’ we are very proud to be starting construction,” Vogt said Wednesday.

“Nothing gets built without a vision. And right now it excites me to visualize that in a few short years we’re going to be able to look across the street from here and see a hub for creative innovation.”

Construction of the new Centre is slated to be complete by the fall of 2020. Once open, it will serve as the home of RRC’s business and information technology programs, as well as its Language Training Centre, ACE (Applied Computer Education) Project Space, and Research Partnerships & Innovation office. Read More →

Marion Street Eatery chef to join RRC faculty this fall

July 18, 2018

The local foodie community’s loss is Red River College’s gain, following an announcement that a popular St. Boniface chef will join our instructing staff this fall.

Earlier this month, Melissa Hryb — the head chef and co-owner of Marion Street Eatery— announced she’d be leaving her post in the restaurant’s kitchen, having accepted a position with RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

A 2005 graduate of the College’s Culinary Arts program, Hryb (shown above, at left) opened the Eatery in 2014 with fellow RRC grad Laneil Smith (Hospitality and Tourism Management, 2006), whose family owned the Marion Hotel and adjoining restaurant space.

The pair first met while working at Bergmann’s on Lombard, where Hryb was a sous-chef and Smith a front-of-house manager.

Though Eatery staff describe Hryb’s departure as bittersweet, they didn’t have to look far for a replacement.

Culinary Arts grad Camila Gamboa (also shown above) has been working for the Eatery for three years, having leveraged her RRC co-op placement into a full-time kitchen position in 2015. She was later tapped to fill in for Hryb while she was on maternity leave.

“Camila is excited to be taking the reins, and wants to bring you all those same favourite comfort foods you’ve always enjoyed,” Hryb said in a social media post.

“Taking on this big role at age 23 is no joke! [Camila] is brave, bold and courageous to put herself into the spotlight … I cannot wait for all our amazing customers to embrace these changes and welcome Camila into this position with open arms.”

Photo courtesy Marion Street Eatery.

Elder Mae Louise Campbell honoured with Folk Festival’s Glass Banjo Award

July 11, 2018

A well-respected member of Manitoba’s Indigenous community — and a longtime support to Red River College students — was honoured this weekend by the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

On Saturday evening in Birds Hill Park, Elder Mae Louise Campbell took to the Folk Fest main stage to accept the Glass Banjo Award, which recognizes those who’ve made extraordinary contributions to the festival, now in its 45th year.

An Ojibwe-Metis Elder who’s served as one of RRC’s Elders in Residence for the last 13 years, Campbell is known for helping people incorporate ancestral Indigenous knowledge into various aspects of their lives, and for the warm and generous spirit she employs while offering help, healing and growth.

She was one of the first Indigenous artisans in the Folk Fest’s Handmade Village, and helped build early connections between the festival and other Indigenous artists. Each year, she greets artists and audiences alike at the festival’s welcoming ceremony and opening blessing — and says one of her most memorable Folk Fest moments was when seven eagles flew overheard while she was performing those duties in 2016.

In recent years, Campbell has served on the City of Winnipeg’s Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle, and received a 2016 Indspire Award for her contributions to Culture, Heritage and Spirituality.

(Photo courtesy of the Winnipeg Folk Festival.)

The Force is strong with this one: Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo to receive Distinguished Graduate Award

June 14, 2018

As a wise man named Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, “In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.”

And it certainly wasn’t luck, but hard work and passion, that earned Pablo Hidalgo — a Winnipeg-raised Star Wars fan, now working for Lucasfilm in California — a Distinguished Graduate Award from Red River College.

A 1996 alum of RRC’s Creative Communications program, Hidalgo proved to be more than a simple man trying to make his way in the universe. The skills he acquired at College put him on the path to where he is today.

While working at McKim Communications Group, he used networking skills to land a role with one of his clients, Frantic Films.

That leap took him to California, where he was quickly presented with an opportunity from Lucasfilm — to work as a writer and content developer for StarWars.com.

Since then, Hidalgo has become a creative executive as part of Lucasfilm’s story development team, earning the unofficial title of Lucasfilm’s ‘resident Star Wars geek,’ who’s most often consulted about the timelines and mythology within the ever-expanding Star Wars universe.

He’ll be presented with the award on Sat., June 23, at the second annual FanQuestconvention taking place at RRC’s Roblin Centre. He’s also scheduled to speak twice at the event: presenting Inside Solo: The Official Guide (noon, Sat.) and From Winnipeg to a Galaxy Far, Far Away (1:00 p.m., Sun.).

“It feels great to be recognized by Red River College as a Distinguished Graduate,” says Hidalgo. “If anything, my journey has taught me to always take the opportunities that are presented to you and stay true to who you are. Growing up in Winnipeg was integral to growing my Star Wars hobby obsession, and it’s great to receive this award surrounded by people who understand the creative energy you can harness when you live somewhere that’s covered in snow half the year.” Read More →

Manitoba music icon Ray St. Germain to receive Honorary Diploma from RRC

June 5, 2018

A household name across the Prairies, Ray St. Germain will be recognized this week with an Honorary Diploma from Red River College.

An award-winning producer, host and entertainer on more than 600 TV and radio programs — including Big Sky Country, Rhythms of the Métis, and the 1969 variety series Time for Living — St. Germain’s engaging, creative and passionate storytelling style shines a spotlight on the history of Manitoba, while helping to build an understanding and appreciation of Métis culture across Canada.

Currently the host of NCI-FM Radio’s Métis Hour X2, St. Germain will attend this week’s Spring Convocation ceremony to accept an Honorary Diploma from RRC’s Creative Communication program.

“Ray is someone who embodies the values of Red River College and serves as an inspiration to many of the creative young people who are receiving their diplomas alongside him today,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“This is the highest honour given by Red River College, and is reserved for individuals who have achieved considerable success in their lives. We have tremendous respect for Ray, who has dedicated his life to sharing the stories of Métis people, and opened the door for others to do the same.” Read More →

New bursaries announced to support Indigenous students

May 31, 2018

Today, as part of its first Indigenous Education Open House, Red River College has announced it will provide financial support for up to 85 students enrolled in one of five new academic programs being launched this fall.

Offered in partnership with Indspire, a leading national Indigenous charity, RRC’s new School of Indigenous Education Award will cover the full cost of tuition, books and supplies for students enrolled in one of the following new academic programs:

“Red River College is working to create a seamless flow of wrap-around supports for aspiring Indigenous students, to help increase enrolment and graduation rates across the College,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy. “These bursaries will help remove the existing financial barriers that many of our learners face.

“We are proud to partner with Indspire, (a group that) recognizes the important work we are doing as a College and has made an investment in a bright future for Indigenous students in our community.”

Supporting Indigenous student success is one of the key pillars of RRC’s five-year strategic plan. Through this initiative, the College will continue increasing access to post-secondary education for Indigenous learners in Manitoba.

“This partnership is another step in the direction of transforming education for our youth so they can in turn transform their families, communities and Canada,” says Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of Indspire. “We are grateful for the support of Red River College and for the work they are doing to advance Indigenous achievement and education.”

Indigenous students who’d like to learn more about available programs and supports are invited to attend the Indigenous Education Open House, which runs from 1–7pm today (May 31), at the Notre Dame Campus.

Portage Campus recognized as chimney swift champion

May 30, 2018

Red River College’s Portage Campus has a vacancy for some feathered friends.

For its efforts in restoring an old chimney to create a hospitable habitat for birds, RRC has been presented with the Swift Champion award from the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative (MCSI). Over the summer of 2017, two swifts were spotted using the chimney a number of times, indicating the restoration was a success.

“We’re honoured to accept the Swift Champion award and to continue our role in protecting the chimney swifts,” says Guy Moffat, Portage Campus Manager. “It’s been amazing to see the work our facilities team has put in to restoring the chimney, and to be able to witness the swifts flying in and out of their summer home. Part of RRC’s Strategic Plan includes fostering sustainable growth – not just for the College, but for the entire province. This is just one way we contribute.”

The chimney swift is a small brown bird, often described as a “cigar with wings,” that enjoys roosting and breeding in brick chimneys. The species’ population has declined significantly in Canada since the 1970s and is now listed on both the provincial and federal Species at Risk registries.

When a volunteer from MCSI noticed upgrades being made to the Portage Campus chimney in 2016, they let the College know it had been identified as a designated chimney swift habitat.

That awareness resulted in changes to the original repair plans, which would have closed off the chimney with a metal cap. Now the top of the brick chimney remains intact, with an opening that allows swifts to enter and roost. The College’s efforts also ensure toxic gases won’t collect in the nesting area. Read More →