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 →

Students welcomed back to campus with week’s worth of activities, events

August 26, 2022

Red River College Polytechnic presents Fall Welcome 2022, a series of events and activities for students and staff to meet, learn and connect as the fall term begins. 

The College is excited to welcome students back to all campuses. Since March 2020, most programs been delivered online due to pandemic restrictions. Moving forward, most of RRC Polytech’s programs will have a blend of in-person and online delivery.

Fall Welcome 2022 will create an exciting and welcoming campus atmosphere, where students can learn about the supports and services available to them, get up-to-date information about safety precautions and guidelines, tour facilities and enjoy entertainment options where they can have fun and connect with each other.

Students will also be able to participate in the RRC Polytech Scavenger Hunt, which runs throughout the week.

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Careers in science laboratory technology: Lab work puts grads into landscape of research, real-world problem solving.

August 17, 2022

A professional lab environment is something we’ve all become more accustomed to hearing about over the past two years. What’s beyond the headlines, though? Where are those educated in Science Laboratory Technology going after they graduate?

“It’s anywhere that has a small lab in the back or a large lab in the front,” says RRC Polytech instructor Michael Judge, who’s worked in the Science Laboratory Technology program for the past 14 years.

“There’s no such thing as a typical job.”

With foundational knowledge in biology and chemistry, grads can take their skills and apply them to a wide range of disciplines, including chemical analysis, research, quality assurance, pharmaceuticals, or biotechnology in industrial, government or commercial laboratory settings.

As Judge points out, Winnipeg has many top-tier opportunities in the industry, including the National Microbiology Laboratory and the City of Winnipeg’s Water and Waste Department. Students in the Science Laboratory Technology program have co-op opportunities at these labs, as well as with many other employers, which gives them a foot in the door for entry-level positions.

For Colleen Cottam-Birt (shown above), who graduated from the program in 1999, the co-op opportunities provided were, in her words, life-changing.

“In this course, I found out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My first co-op through RRC Polytech was at the University of Manitoba Animal Science Lab. I had a wonderful boss and we developed a friendship that lasted many years,” she says.

“My last co-op was my dream job. I was placed at what was then just simply known as the Virology Lab … I have worked at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases (NCFAD) now for 22 years.”

Cottam-Birt’s experience is familiar to Judge, who has seen many students exit their co-ops with positions they can transition to immediately after graduation.

“One of the big benefits of the co-op is that they’re getting that immersion in the workplace, so they’re networking, they’re getting something on their resumé, and very often, it does turn into full-time employment.” Read More →

Careers in hospitality and tourism management: Jobs take grads to interesting places, program helps them land leadership roles

August 10, 2022

When Laneil Smith got into the restaurant industry, it wasn’t just for the love of food — it was for the love of creating an experience.

“I think so many people connect through food and drink,” says Smith, owner of Marion Street Eatery in Winnipeg — and a graduate of RRC Polytech’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program — in a recent alumni profile.

“I think of relationships I’ve created in the past and usually they revolve around the dinner table in some form.”

Creating that experience — whether it’s an international vacation or a sit-down dinner — is at the heart of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and it starts with a foundation of building customer service skills. These skills allow students and grads to turn their passion for the industry into something that’s pleasing for customers.

“We have courses on customer service,” says Lori Slobodian, instructor in Tourism Management, one of two second-year specializations that students choose from, along with Hotel and Restaurant Management.

“We have all kinds of courses to help students develop those skills if they don’t have them.”

“As they develop those skills, they have to develop teamwork, exceptional interpersonal skills, good self-control, emotional intelligence and empathy — all big pieces of leadership,” adds Blair Mineault, an instructor on the Hotel and Restaurant Management side.

There’s also the option for students to exit with a certificate after one year and enter the workforce with their foundational skills.

Regardless of the path, the end goal of the program is to graduate a student that is ready to be a leader in their workplace. Part of getting there is lab work done at Jane’s, a fine dining restaurant in Winnipeg’s Exchange District that’s open to the public and is staffed by both Hospitality and Tourism Management students, along with those in Culinary Arts.

“For a lot of them, they’ve never worked in a restaurant before,” says Slobodian of the Jane’s experience.

“So it’s a brand new environment. It’s a fine dining restaurant, too, so the dress code is different, and dealing with customers is on a different level, so they develop all those power skills to be successful in that situation — and that transfers over to their co-op positions, as well.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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Careers in electrical engineering technology: Grads set for exciting paths thanks to co-op opportunities, expert instructors

July 5, 2022

As the country and world at large becomes more connected, electrical engineering technologists are critical to maintaining those connections because they design, install or maintain all types of electrical and electronic systems.

Fiona Hatherell, an instructor in RRC Polytech’s Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) program, puts an even finer point on it.

“The kinds of jobs EET graduates get are kind of invisible to the everyday person,” she says, noting these behind-the-scenes, yet critically important careers include electrical technicians, broadcast engineers, technical writers, substation technicians and more.

In RRC Polytech’s program, students gain a foundational knowledge in their first year of the 28-month diploma program. After that, they enter one of three specializations — Electrical Engineering Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, or Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology — before a mandatory co-op where they get to put their knowledge to work.

Students also have the optional opportunity of a co-op between first and second years, which can help them bring some practical knowledge back to the classroom.

“They come back from co-op with a really enriched sense of where they’re going in their program,” says Hatherell. “They have stories and a much better understanding of what they’ve seen and how to apply it in the classroom. It’s quite incredible.”

The co-op aspect of Electrical Engineering Technology isn’t simply about sending students off without direction, however. RRC Polytech instructors, including co-op coordinator Hojat Norouzi, take an active role in monitoring students and pushing them toward success.

“I monitor and try to secure as many jobs as possible for our students. Employers will post a job with us starting in January each year, and students will receive emails about particular jobs, where they’ll then have the opportunity to apply.”

Norouzi says the mandatory co-ops, strategically timed at the end of Year Two, often create a launch pad for entry level jobs.

“In many cases, I would say more than 80 per cent of the time, the student working in the co-op program — especially in the second year — the same employer will hire them when they graduate. I’ve seen many cases when a student finishes [their first] co-op, they come back to do the final term and they continue working at that company, too. If a student is performing well, they would secure a full-time job after graduation.”

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Lights, camera, action: A second chance at convocation

June 22, 2022

Today, after two years of virtual graduation ceremonies, RRC Polytech alumni — along with their classmates, friends, family, loved ones and College staff — are gathering for a second chance at convocation.

Almost 1,000 alumni will don a cap and gown to cross the stage in person during ceremonies at the Centennial Concert Hall.

“We recognize that being surrounded by classmates and loved ones, and crossing the stage is a major milestone to help celebrate students’ hard work and achievements,” says Dr. Christine Watson, Vice-President, Academic and emcee of the alumni graduation ceremonies.

“We wanted to be able to provide this memorable in-person experience to alumni who had virtual convocation ceremonies over the last two years,”

Earlier this spring, after receiving positive survey responses from alumni who graduated between Spring 2020 and Winter 2022, the College announced that special return convocation ceremonies would be held for alumni.

For Tian Tian, who first arrived in Canada in 2020, not only did she have to learn how to navigate a new country and way of life, but also remote classes in a new online learning environment. Despite all the challenges, Tian seamlessly managed a demanding class schedule, found time to give back to the community, and began building a family.

Having started her education journey at the onset of the pandemic, and finished during another wave of the pandemic, she now has the opportunity to attend the in-person convocation ceremony she had anticipated.

“I am grateful to be able to join my instructors and fellow classmates in person — they have been fundamental in helping me build brave relationships here at RRC Polytech and prepare for my future career,” says Tian, who is a 2021 honours grad of the College’s Manufacturing CAD program, and recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for outstanding achievement.

“Today is also extremely special because my son, Alexis, who became our youngest classmate, will be with my family in the audience while I cross the stage.”

Tian will bring remarks at tonight’s 7:00 p.m. ceremony, which — like those taking place at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. — will be available to livestream at

Congratulations to the classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022!