RRC Polytech team finishes first in Sprint to Innovate challenge

May 5, 2022

RRC Polytech proudly owned the podium at the Sprint to Innovate Challenge last month, as teams representing the College won three of four available cash prizes.

Six Business Technology Management students teamed up as the North Latin Friends and outraced their peers to the finish line in the biannual 48-hour student innovation challenge, presented by the City of Winnipeg and held in cooperation with industry partners, the University of Manitoba and Tech Manitoba.

“Sprint to Innovate is a fun event that cultivates relationships between students and allows them to display technical and creative skills to potential employers,” says Dr. Jonathan Ziprick, Applied Computer Education instructor at RRC Polytech. “It’s a great opportunity for students to learn and practice the innovation process that is used for solving problems in industry.”

In Sprint to Innovate, industry partners provide real businesses challenges for student teams, who must choose an issue to tackle, work with a mentor to develop innovative business solutions over the course of a weekend, and then pitch their ideas to overcome the challenge to a panel of judges.

The competition requires teamwork, creativity and communication, and encourages participants to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom.

“The breadth of ideas, pragmatic approaches and workable solutions that students come up with in such a short period of time is impressive,” says Tyler Gooch, Director of Innovation & Technology for the City of Winnipeg. “As judges, it was difficult to select a winner because all the groups presented well-reasoned conclusions. In the end, we decided to reward a team that attacked their problem from a unique angle, forgoing obvious technology-based solutions to focus on a social innovation.”

With members hailing from Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Cuba and Ecuador, a cultural connection brought the North Latin Friends together as a team, and their shared experiences as new citizens inspired their response to the challenge — put forth by the City of Winnipeg — of how to encourage engagement and increase voter participation for the 2022 municipal election. Read More →

Mockups and lockups: Manufacturing student creates new covers for on-campus bike lockers

May 4, 2022

You can’t make something from nothing. Unless you’re in manufacturing — then you can come pretty close.

Just ask Ryan Ross, a CNC Machining and Advanced Technology student who created durable weatherproof covers for RRC Polytech’s bike lockers.

“In the beginning I had nothing to work with,” says Ross (shown, at right). “It all started with hours of CAD (computer aided design) to get an initial shape and feel for the part. Once I measured (the lockers), I realized my design fit quite comfortably and my second iteration was adapted to use the measurements.”

After he 3D-printed his designs and confirmed they were functional, it was time to research the right material for the job. Another challenge: using something he had not worked with before.

“For the past two years I’ve learned to be a machinist — to work with metals. To be in a project with virtually no machining and work with a different material entirely … it was definitely a bit of a culture shock,” says Ross. “It taught me a lot about the plastics manufacturing industry — it really shows you that even the simplest plastic piece has a lot of meticulous steps to perfecting the process.”

Ross chose to make the parts out of two pieces of polyurethane resin, as it’s tough, resistant to moisture and chemicals, and can be mixed with UV-resistant additives to boost life expectancy against the sun.

“I wanted to make something that was elegant and simple, but portrayed the College’s pride and grace through a single act of production,” says Ross. “It was hard to conceptualize in the beginning, but I got input from many instructors and fellow classmates and was able to finalize the design.” Read More →

RRC Polytech unveils artwork by KC Adams at opening of Roundhouse Auditorium

April 29, 2022

Today, RRC Polytech unveiled Anishinaabe/Nêhiyaw/British artist KC Adams’ Morning Star design — which is embedded within the floor of the College’s new Roundhouse Auditorium — at the official opening of the space at Manitou a bi Bii daziigae.

“KC Adams really captured what our College and this building represent,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech. “Not only did she so thoughtfully include distinct histories and cultures that are part of these lands, but she also integrated what type of learning will happen here. It pays homage to history, but it’s here in the present and looks to the future.”

Located on the second floor of Manitou a bi Bii daziigae, RRC Polytech’s newest building at the Exchange District Campus, the Roundhouse Auditorium is a 210-seat space that will be used for events, ceremonies and collaborative learning. It is sound-proof, ventilated for the use of traditional medicines, and features a curved, panoramic projector to display videos and create an immersive experience.

“This space brings together so many aspects of RRC Polytech’s guiding principles: transforming to meet emerging needs, committing to reconciliation and diversity, and deepening our partnerships to maximize prosperity,” says Meier.

“The uniqueness of the Roundhouse will create more opportunities to gather, innovate, collaborate and invite the wider community in. It’s spaces like this that set RRC Polytech apart and show we can be really proud of how our College continues to contribute to the changing landscape of the Exchange District, Winnipeg and Manitoba.” Read More →

RRC Polytech’s commitment to EDI earns national recognition

April 27, 2022

RRC Polytech has been named the bronze recipient for Excellence in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) Awards of Excellence, held this week in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

In the past year, RRC Polytech proudly implemented a corporate EDI action plan. This helped establish a network of Diversity Champions who encourage EDI engagement on campus. The College’s Academic Success Centre and staff designed multiple training programs, while Anti-Racism and Gender and Sexual Diversity Committees were created and have played an integral role in organizing events to further raise awareness and foster inclusion.

“We are committed to meaningful change by embedding EDI practices into everything we do,” says Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resource Officer. “The College fosters a culture where every student, staff and faculty member feels welcomed, respected and valued by prioritizing Truth and Reconciliation and EDI through the commitments of our Strategic Plan. We take great pride in this acknowledgement, knowing that RRC Polytech students and employees will carry invaluable EDI knowledge and skills into their communities and workplaces to further advance change.”

RRC Polytech has made a public pledge to make Manitoba a centre of excellence for Indigenous education, research, languages and culture. To do so requires a journey of learning and unlearning, building partnerships with Indigenous businesses and organizations, and creating pathways for Indigenous learners and instructors.

To guide this significant and transformational work, the College continuously seeks strategic advice from its Elders-in-Residence, Knowledge Keepers Council, Director of Truth and Reconciliation, and new Vice-President of Indigenous Strategy, Research and Business Development.

The College also introduced a key landmark that will serve as a powerful inspiration to continue the commitment to embedding Truth and Reconciliation in everything it does. Manitou a bi Bii daziigae is a state-of-the-art building with an Anishinaabemowin name that honours the history of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba, represents the work and learning that occurs inside, and celebrates Indigenous tradition and artwork. Read More →

RRC Polytech hosts first in-person Skills Manitoba competition since start of pandemic

April 19, 2022

For the first time since 2019, RRC Polytech will host the Skills Manitoba Provincial Competition, welcoming more than 110 post-secondary students to its Notre Dame Campus to compete in skilled trades and technology contests representing a range of industry sectors.

This year’s competition — which had to be postponed a few days due to last week’s spring storm — runs April 19–22. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, RRC Polytech had hosted the provincial competition on campus every year since 1998.

“We’re excited to have Skills Manitoba back on campus. It’s an incredible opportunity to showcase the talent that comes out of RRC Polytech and our partner institutions,” says Derek Kochenash, Dean, Skilled Trades and Technologies. “The event highlights how well our students are prepared for careers in the trades and allows them to show off their talents to their peers and industry professionals.”

Each year, the competition provides the opportunity for nearly 500 high school, post-secondary and apprenticeship students to compete in events that test skills required in trades and technology careers. (This year’s secondary-level competition for high school students remained virtual, and was held from April 4–14.) Contests are designed by provincial technical committees made up of industry professionals and educators.

“Skills Canada Manitoba is working to change the perception of skilled trades and emerging technologies,” says Maria Pacella, Executive Director, Skills Canada Manitoba. “The young people who participate in these competitions will be the workforce of tomorrow. As we emerge from this pandemic, we all need to work together to showcase the economic and social benefits of a skilled workforce.”

Winners of the provincial competition form Team Manitoba, and compete at the Skills Canada National Competition in Vancouver from May 25–28. Read More →

New partnership produces strong weld

April 12, 2022

Fusing metal together is an art form for students in RRC Polytech’s Welding program.

They’ve learned it takes patience, precision and practice to join metals properly, and the resulting products have incredible strength and durability. A new partnership with West End Radiators is teaching them that similar principles apply when forging relationships, and that reinforcing bonds with industry benefits both students and prospective employers.

“Our success at RRC Polytech has been built on strong, dynamic partnerships — with communities, industry, employers and applied research partners. Our partners want to work with us because of our ability to solve problems, train talent and respond to labour market needs,” says Shylyte Bloodworth, Program Manager, Electrical, Mechanical and Manufacturing at RRC Polytech.

“Having a former student be the link to a new collaboration speaks to how quickly our graduates make an impact in the workforce.”

Gail Batoon was working as a labourer in shipping at West End Radiators a few years ago when he decided to upgrade his education and further his career. He quit his job and began RRC Polytech’s Welding program. In less than a year, he had been hired back in an elevated role as a welder.

“We value integrity, quality service and teamwork, so we were thrilled when Gail chose to return to us after his training,” says Wayne Feeleus, Director of Sales and Business Development for West End Radiators. “His workmanship is excellent and expanding our staff allows us to produce more parts that we can trust to stand up to Manitoba winters.”

A follow-up call with Welding Instructor Jason Church led to another return for Batoon — this time as a mentor in the classroom, with an added level of partnership for the company.

“It came together quickly; West End Rad needed a specific side bracket for radiators on Kenworth trucks,” Church explains. “They provided the raw materials and the design, and Gail visited the class earlier to provide a hands-on demonstration of what was required.” Read More →

Morning Star installation grounds Manitou a bi Bii daziigae in Indigenous traditions

March 30, 2022

A stunning work of art embedded in the floor of the Roundhouse Auditorium at RRC Polytech’s new Manitou a bi Bii daziigae space honours Indigenous artistry and technology while highlighting its importance to our past, present and future.

Designed by prominent Anishinaabe/Nêhiyaw/British artist KC Adams, Morning Star incorporates traditional and emerging technologies in a space designed to bring people from a wide range of backgrounds together to learn and innovate. Manitou a bi Bii daziigae is home to RRC Polytech’s flagship business, information and technology programs.

Morning Star celebrates traditional Indigenous technologies such as birch bark, which Adams featured prominently in the design.

“Embracing technology is a part of who Indigenous people are and have always been,” she explains.

“Birch bark was used as a versatile technology for many tribal groups across North America for knowledge sharing, vessels, shelter, transportation, design, fuel and even sunglasses to prevent snow-blindness.”

Adams, who is based in Winnipeg, sourced the bark herself, then scanned and digitally altered it to fit the larger design. The bark is arranged in a pattern that represents new beginnings —  “the first star you see in the morning, the star that guides us.” Read More →

RRC Polytech honoured for heritage preservation of historic Scott Fruit Building

March 29, 2022

RRC Polytech proudly accepted a Heritage Conservation Award for its recently opened Manitou a bi Bii daziigae space at Heritage Winnipeg’s 36th annual Preservation Awards last Thursday. The award was received in partnership with Number TEN Architectural Group and recognizes the project team’s special effort to protect, conserve and reuse the historically designated Scott Fruit Building in its transformation of the Exchange District Campus.

“This award celebrates the spirit of innovation that bonds education and industry, leading to progress in any era,” says Lynn Zapshala-Kelln, Vice-President Finance and Administration at the College. “RRC Polytech is proud to extend the legacy of such an historic site, knowing its modernization will keep its entrepreneurial spirit alive while allowing us to achieve our commitments to constantly transform our learning model, strengthen academic pathways for students and deepen community partnerships.”

Located on Elgin Avenue, the 100,000-sq. ft. Manitou a bi Bii daziigae (shown above, under construction) was designed to look to the future while respecting the past. Adapting and upgrading the nearly 110-year-old Scott Fruit Building included restoration of the original wood and steel windows, the cleaning and repointing of the brick façade and incorporating historic elements in the interior design of the new space.

“The Scott Fruit Building’s longevity is a testament to the value of innovation,” says Zapshala-Kelln. “By protecting and celebrating its heritage status, Manitou a bi Bii daziigae provides our students and staff with a tangible link to our community’s rich history of visionary thinkers, who serve as their role models as they shape the next century of advancement.”

Built using the latest construction technology of concrete and steel in 1914, the Scott Fruit Warehouse was considered cutting-edge in architecture and appliance capability at the time, helping Winnipeg become the wholesale centre of Western Canada. Read More →

Research enterprise re-aligning to support Manitoba businesses on a global stage

March 24, 2022

For more than 15 years, RRC Polytech’s Research Partnerships & Innovation enterprise has collaborated with local industry and community partners to find solutions to real-world challenges.

Over the course of the last five months, work has been underway on a new Academic Plan and Research Plan, focused on alignment with the key commitments of the College’s Strategic Plan, In Front of What’s Ahead.

Both plans will support how RRC Polytech lives its bold new direction over the next five years, and will play a significant role in how the College achieves a renewed commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, supports growth and prosperity within Manitoba and deepens relationships with employers, industry and community partners.

“This change in structure was a natural fit, as several goals in the Research Plan align extremely well with the mandate of RRC Polytech’s newly created Indigenous Strategy and Business Development portfolio,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO. 

“This re-alignment is one of the ways we are positioning RRC Polytech to achieve our strategic goals and elevate our role in strengthening Manitoba’s economic, social, environmental and cultural prosperity.”

Read More →

First time still prime

March 23, 2022

Camila Quintanilla standing in a restaurant
Camila Quintanilla had never worked before her co-op placement. She won the CEM Co-op Student of the Year Award and was nominated for a CEWIL Canada Student of the Year award. She now works at Baked Expectations full-time.

Imagine moving to a new place, more than an eight-hour flight away from home. It’s your first time being away from family. You speak the language, but it’s not how you regularly communicate — this is a totally new culture. Now imagine going to school there to train for the first job you’ve ever had.

Camila Quintanilla doesn’t have to imagine — it’s exactly what she did. In March 2021, she moved from Peru to Winnipeg to start a co-operative work placement through RRC Polytech’s Hotel and Restaurant Management program in the Hospitality and Tourism Management diploma.

“I remember going through the immigrations office when I first got to Toronto, and I was so scared I was shaking,” says Quintanilla. “I was so scared of not being able to do anything when I got here.”

She didn’t have to worry. This year, Quintanilla was named the Co-operative Education Manitoba (CEM) Co-op Student of the Year for 2021. She was also one of 39 co-op students — from a pool of 80,000 across the country — nominated for the Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada Student of the Year Award. To top it all off, her co-op experience led to a full-time job at Baked Expectations. Not bad for her first work experience.

Read More →