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Making learning fun: Instructor caps off RRC career with Teaching Award of Excellence

May 29, 2019

Cathy Skene, Red River CollegeAt 65 and close to retirement, Cathy Skene is the 2019 recipient of Red River College’s Students’ Association Teaching Award of Excellence.

A Certified Professional Accountant, Skene began her career at RRC in 1981 as an evening instructor of Financial Accounting. Since then she’s taught in the Accounting, Teacher Education and Continuing Education departments and is currently winding down her career as an online instructor in the Certificate in Adult Education program.

In their award submission, Skene’s students praised her knowledge of the subject material, her inspirational teaching style and her availability in and outside of class.

Skene says her enthusiasm for teaching comes directly from her students.

“They bring out the best in me,” she says. “I feel so lucky to have been a small part of their lives, and I’m so very happy that they enjoyed having me.”

In their submission, many of her students wrote that she makes learning fun. Skene says she strives to make the classroom an enjoyable atmosphere.

“Most people learn better when they’re relaxed, and enjoying the process,” she says. “The learning objectives of each course are essential, but there are also ways to add to the experience, by talking about what the students want to learn.

“And as adult learners, they bring a great deal of knowledge with them. It’s necessary to acknowledge and incorporate what they already know. We all learn from one another. A cooperative and supportive atmosphere means everyone can be a winner.”

Crunching numbers and crushing the competition: Financial planning students set their sights on national challenge

May 28, 2019

For the second year in a row, Red River College Business Administration students have banked a first place victory at the 2019 Western Canadian Institute of Financial Planners (CIFP) Case Challenge Competition, and will now square off against the best in the East next week in Vancouver.

The four students — (shown above, from left) Suzie Nguyen, Ron Eric Venezuela, Scott Lobban and Desiree Huang — and their Financial Services Specialization instructor, Maria Vincenten, have spent countless hours practicing and preparing in the hopes that this year they’ll come home the national champions.

“Students come to Red River College to gain the skills and knowledge that will make them employable,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “Competitions like the CIFP Case Challenge provide our students with opportunities to practice problem solving, hone their innovation skills, strengthen their ability to communicate and work within teams, and acquire real-life experience that will ultimately lead them to a successful career.”

“We are so proud of these students and their instructor, who are representing Red River College on the national stage and are truly demonstrating the value of hands-on, applicable learning.”

The CIFP Case Challenge lets students take the skills they’ve learned in the classroom and apply apply them in a fast-paced simulation of a real-world scenario.

Teams of three are sequestered in a room with a copy of a multi-page financial case study, then given just two hours to develop a case analysis, recommendations and an implementation plan.

Once completed, students then have up to 20 minutes to present their findings to a panel of judges (all of them financial services professionals). During this time, students must convince the judges that their solutions are viable and are the best solutions for the case. The team that makes the best and most persuasive case presentation wins. Read More →

School’s out for summer, but learning continues at RRC youth camps

May 24, 2019

Whoever said summer school was a drag clearly hadn’t heard of Red River College’s summer youth camps. For any child who dreams of building their own race car, or cooking like Canada’s next master chef, RRC has a number of fun-filled, hands-on camps returning by popular demand this summer.

“Red River College takes great pride in being a valued member of the community. Summer camps are just one way we are able to introduce young people to many potential career paths in a way that is interactive, engaging, and most importantly, fun,” says Christine Watson, RRC’s Vice-President, Academic.

“We’re thrilled to offer a variety of different camps throughout the summer months in our state-of-the-art facilities and taught by our industry-leading instructors.”

Each summer, the College week-long interactive learning experiences for students aged 10 to 14. This year, RRC is pleased to offer the following summer programs: Read More →

Technical support: Interlake instructor gives Computer Skills course an upgrade

April 11, 2019

Dr. Kasongo Kalanda began his journey with technology and education at a time — and in a place — where few people had even heard of computers.

Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kalanda’s options for post-secondary education were similarly limited as a young man, but he managed to find an opening at a private university, where he was among the first students to register for Computer Studies.

“It was the only available opportunity,” says Kalanda, now a Computer Skills instructor at Red River College’s Interlake and Peguis – Fisher River Campus. “I took things seriously from there and told myself it was this or nothing.”

Kalanda earned a bachelor’s degree in Science and a master’s in Computer Science from L’Institut supérieur d’informatique programmation et analyse (L’I.S.I.P.A.), before moving to pursue both a second master’s and a doctorate in Computing Education from the University of South Africa.

While there, he ran into a problem when his master’s thesis was required in English, a language he’d never had the opportunity to learn. Kalanda asked for three months to figure out how to read and write in English. He says it wasn’t easy, and compared it to a “do-or-die” situation.

In 2008, he was invited to participate in a Microsoft-sponsored program that trained teachers in how to integrate technology into education. During a brainstorming workshop, Kalanda helped come up with the idea to create a classroom technology integration competition for teachers using a World Cup Soccer model.

The end results were called School Technology Innovation Centres, an initiative for which Kalanda became manager for Africa and the Middle East, eventually travelling to more than 50 countries between 2008 and 2013. Read More →

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 →

University of King’s College data journalism school coming to RRC

April 8, 2019

Red River College, the University of King’s College and the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) are teaming up to bring Canada’s best data journalism training to Winnipeg.

For more than a decade, King’s summer data schools have trained journalists from across the country in basic data journalism skills, including how to find, clean and analyze data, and how to use that data to find and tell compelling stories.

That same training will now be offered at RRC from May 5 to 10, right after CAJ19, the CAJ’s annual conference.

“For people on the Prairies and in Northwestern Ontario, Halifax can seem an awfully long way to go for training,” says Fred Vallance-Jones, lead instructor in the program and associate professor at King’s. “So we decided to bring exactly the same content to Winnipeg.”

King’s data schools have trained journalists from some of Canada’s biggest news outlets — including the Winnipeg Free Press, the CBC, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail — as well as those from many smaller outlets.

Journalists who know how to work with data open up new opportunities in their careers, and can find and tell stories others miss.

“Journalists with data skills are prized in in newsrooms for being able to see stories in new ways and ferret out what’s really going on,” says RRC Journalism instructor James Turner, a graduate of King’s 2017 data school. “This training is a worthwhile investment for any journalist or newsroom wanting to offer their audiences bigger, more meaty stories.” 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 →

Coast Guard donates surplus helicopter to RRC’s Stevenson Campus

March 7, 2019

Red River College’s aircraft maintenance training got a welcome lift yesterday, thanks to the donation of a surplus Coast Guard helicopter that’ll help support the development of skilled aerospace industry personnel.

Today at RRC’s Stevenson Campus, the federal government presented the College with a Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm BO105 helicopter — one of 10 such assets being donated to training institutions across Canada.

“I am proud that these Coast Guard helicopters will help develop students across the country, allowing them to have practical and hands-on experience,” said Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a written release. “These assets have a lot of history and are part of the Coast Guard’s heritage. I am glad that they will benefit generations to come in building high-level maintenance expertise.”

The copters were in service with the Coast Guard for more than 30 years, the first having been purchased in 1985, and the last in 1988. The fleet played an essential role in supporting programs such as icebreaking, marine communication, navigation aids, environmental response, waterway protection, science, conservation and protection.

The helicopter donated to RRC will be used as part of aerospace and aviation training at the Stevenson Campus in Winnipeg, where it joins a fleet of roughly 12 planes and helicopters, most of which were also donated by industry and government partners.

“They are teaching tools, and this hangar is a classroom,” said RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above at right, with MP Doug Eyolfson). “This campus is ground control, and we are steering students with a clear path forward to a rewarding career by providing them with the training, knowledge and skills that this fast-paced and ever-changing industry demands.”

“After 30 years, this incredible piece of equipment may be retired from active service in the Coast Guard fleet, but its next chapter and journey is just beginning here at RRC.”