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Masonry master named Apprenticeship Manitoba’s Instructor of the Year

December 9, 2019

The office of Brian Gebhardt, a Masonry instructor at Red River College, is reminiscent of the classrooms adjacent to it: surrounded by projects and artwork made of bricks, with a layer of dust on every surface.

Gebhardt is everything one would expect from a mason — covered in the same dust that cakes his office, with calloused hands hardened from almost 45 years in the trade.

For 30 of those years, that dust has been a byproduct of his work at RRC, and this year he received the highest honour an apprenticeship instructor can achieve when he was named Instructor of the Year by Apprenticeship Manitoba.

Gebhardt doesn’t let a little dust bother him; after all, he’s been working with bricks since his first construction job right out of high school, where time spent watching and talking with masonry veterans sold him on the trade.

“They seemed to enjoy what they were doing, and wage-wise it was what I was looking for,” he says.

To get a foot in the door, Gebhardt cold-called as many masonry contractors as he could to ask for a job, which he eventually landed — through what he’s convinced was a real-life game of Telephone.

“I phoned them and said, ‘I want to be a bricklayer,’ and I think he thought I said, ‘I am a bricklayer.’ And he said, ‘Have your tools tomorrow at 1700 Taylor,’” Gebhardt recalls with a smile.

“I picked up some tools — I had none — and I showed up at the job.” Read More →

Industry and employee connections make RRC a top employer for 10th year running

December 4, 2019

Red River College is celebrating its connections to industry and employees, after landing a spot on Manitoba’s Top Employer list for the 10th year in a row.

The College’s 2,600 staff and faculty are among its greatest resources. A big reason for that is their connection to industry, and that connection is also why many students choose an RRC education here in Manitoba.

“Simply put, what we’re doing is working. We’re proud to celebrate 10 years of recognition with all of our employees,” says Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resource Officer at RRC.

The College knows it has a responsibility to create a workplace where employees feel valued, fulfilled and supported. That’s why employee engagement is one of its strategic priorities.

This fall, RRC launched a new employee engagement initiative by inviting staff to participate in a survey. The College plans to share results and feedback with all staff, and employees will work together to create action plans that address the issues that matter to them.

“Everyone’s voice matters. We want to learn more about an employee’s experience working here so that we can all work together to build an even stronger culture,” says Gudmundson. Read More →

Price Family Foundation pledges $525,000 in student awards to RRC

November 27, 2019

Students in Red River College’s Engineering Technology programs now have the opportunity to earn life-changing scholarships, thanks to the generosity of local philanthropists Dr. Gerry and Barb Price.

Well-known for their altruism, the couple will donate $525,000 to RRC over the next five years. Their scholarships will reward high-achieving students by providing them with the financial support they need to minimize time spent in part-time jobs to pay for tuition, rent and other living costs.

The first award recipients will be recognized tonight at RRC’s Technology Awards dinner.

“If you can barely keep food on the table and have a part-time job just to survive, you might not be able to put the best effort into school,” says Dr. Gerry Price (shown above, second from right), chairman and CEO of the Price group of companies.

“High-achieving students need to put in long hours, but if you’re broke, you’re kind of in trouble because you need to eat and sleep too. We want these scholarships to provide more time for hardworking students to focus on their studies so they can end up being the best they can be.”

Through the Price Family Foundation, Gerry and Barb Price have been generous supporters of education, arts and culture, and health care. They already fund about 200 scholarships each year, with a focus on those who don’t always have champions — children, single mothers and families in distress. With today’s announcement, they’ll be supporting an additional 30 to 60 students each year.

“This is significant,” says Andrew Roncin, an instructor in RRC’s Electrical Engineering Technology program. “Up until now, our programs haven’t had as many available scholarships — but with this gift, about 10 per cent of our Electrical Engineering Technology students can receive some support each year.”

The Price Scholarships will be offered to students who are enrolled full-time in Electrical Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Instrumentation and Control Engineering, and Manufacturing CAD, and have achieved a minimum GPA of 3.0 after their first year. Read More →

TACAM harnesses aerospace manufacturing technology in fight against cancer

November 20, 2019

Close-up of carbon fibre panelIt may not look like much, but the panel pictured at left — built by staff at Red River College’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing (TACAM) — is a powerful weapon in CancerCare Manitoba’s fight to save lives.

Dave Austin, a program facilitator for TACAM, says the panels are fabricated by hand using the same materials, equipment and processes that students in RRC’s Aerospace Manufacturing program use to create aircraft paneling.

“The process is simply a matter of getting the materials (graphite and aluminum) cut into the size they need, and pressing them together to create a solid piece.”

The compressed sheet is heated in an oven for 90 minutes and then cooled, removing the air to ensure the plies bond. The result is a quarter-inch, 30-ply aerospace-grade sheet of carbon fibre.

From each panel, CancerCare fabricates indexing bars designed to help cancer patients maintain the same body position across multiple radiation treatments.

Chad Harris, a member of the Department of Medical Devices at CCMB, says the carbon fibre has unique properties that make it especially useful for radiation treatment.

“When you’re firing a beam of radiation at a tumour, it’s critical to maintain an exact distance between the beam and the tumour each time you do it.” Read More →

Ready, set, hire: Recruitment event connects industry with tomorrow’s business leaders

November 12, 2019

A bell rings, piercing the silence. In the South Gym at Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus, a nervous group of well-dressed students rise from their chairs and rustle towards a large group of tables — where their futures may await.

Seated at each table are recruiters from leading Manitoba companies, hoping to scope out RRC’s best and brightest at the sixth annual First Impressions Recruitment Event.

Over the next four hours, more than 500 interviews with 114 students take place here, each no more than 12 minutes long.

“That’s not a lot of time to wow, but our students always come prepared to impress,” says Kirk Johnson, RRC’s Dean of Business and Applied Art and Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

“We’re known for the calibre of our job-ready candidates, which is why so many employers come back here year after year.”

“(First Impressions) is probably the most successful recruiting event we have all year,” says Aida Rodrigues, a senior talent acquisition partner for CIBC, one of the companies attending the event.

“The students we speak with are all well-prepared for industry. The faculty here has lots to do with it. People who’ve worked in banking and finance know how to prepare students for success in positions like the ones we’re hiring for.”

First Impressions is open to all students in RRC’s Applied Accounting, Business Administration, and Commerce Industry Sales and Marketing programs. The companies they meet are all looking to fill paid, full- and part-time, entry-level/trainee positions and higher. Read More →

College feeds local economy with unveiling of new culinary research kitchen

November 7, 2019

Manitoba’s vital agriculture and food industry is getting another boost with today’s grand opening of Red River College’s Prairie Research Kitchen.

The new research facility brings food science, culinary arts and industry together on the eleventh floor of RRC’s Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. The kitchen supports industry growth through new product development and by providing culinary students with food science skills required by this crucial economic sector.

“The Prairie Research Kitchen supports the growth of our ever-important agriculture and food industry, and helps build on Manitoba’s protein advantage, which is one of our strategic priorities,” says Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler (shown above, at right, with interim RRC President Darin Brecht).

“The Province of Manitoba is pleased to have provided $1 million from Research Manitoba towards the construction of the research kitchen, as culinary research is an area of tremendous opportunity. It’s exciting to see the College’s research chefs put their skills and expertise to work creating food products that are not only good for our health, but are also good for Manitoba’s economy.”

Culinary instructor plating food, Prairie Research Kitchen

Food and feed processing is the largest manufacturing sub-industry in Manitoba, accounting for 26 per cent of manufacturing sales in 2018. Many of the companies working in this area are SMEs, and this is where the Prairie Research Kitchen comes in — working directly with small and medium-sized operations to help bring new ideas and products to life. Read More →

Passion for InfoSec propels BIT student down new career path

November 5, 2019

A Business Information Technology (BIT) student from Red River College has won a prestigious award from ISACA (formerly the Information Systems Audit and Control Association), which will provide her with a $2,000 scholarship and valuable industry connections as she steps into her new career.

Now in her second year, Melanie Par enrolled in the BIT program hoping to combine her background in criminology with her technical skills as a programmer, and quickly discovered a passion for the information security (InfoSec) community in Winnipeg.

“I’ve never been more excited for the future,” she says. “Winning this award has been a reaffirming experience to pursue a career in information technology.”

Par learned more about InfoSec by volunteering for The Long Con — a community-based information security conference — and as president of RRC’s ISACA student group.

Karen Kabel, an Information Security instructor at the College, launched the student group last year, making RRC one of only two post-secondary institutions in Canada to have an ISACA student chapter. Kabel has been a member of ISACA for more than 20 years and was the first female president in Winnipeg; she thinks Melanie could soon serve in the same role.

“Melanie is always the first one to volunteer to help with our ISACA student activities,” says Kabel. “She was key in helping putting on the group’s first information security student conference (at the ACE Project Space). She volunteers to make a difference in the security industry for other RRC students, which makes her deserving of this award and the advantages that come with it.” Read More →

Opportunities await: Students help streamline operations for employment aid organization

November 4, 2019

Red River College’s ACE Project Space is opening new doors for Equal Opportunities West.

An initiative of RRC’s Applied Computer Education (ACE) department, the ACE Project Space plays host to students working in conjunction with corporations, entrepreneurs and non-profits to bring business and project ideas to reality.

Students in the interactive workshop recently created an application for Equal Opportunities West (EOW) to automate its scheduling system. The organization provides support services to people with work barriers — such as physical and intellectual disabilities or mental health issues — to help secure competitive employment or start businesses of their own.

The non-profit also runs a day program for people with intellectual disabilities.

“We as an organization have expanded so much over the years,” says Susan Morgan, EOW’s executive director. “We really felt it was getting difficult to schedule everybody and get everything on paper. Just physically keeping track of everybody was becoming a daunting task.”

“We had an idea for an app. We heard about the ACE program and we went down to meet with them and they certainly thought it was something they could help with. I had looked at these canned apps, but they were mostly for the restaurant industry. There are lots of good scheduling apps out there, but nothing quite as in-depth and comprehensive as what we needed.” Read More →

Flame and fortune: Design grad named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year

October 31, 2019

Amanda Bushe, Coal and Canary co-founderA Red River College grad behind one of the city’s most popular startups has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Women Business Owners of Manitoba (WBOM).

Amanda Buhse, co-founder of Coal and Canary Candle Company, was both the overall winner and in the Global Reach category at this year’s Manitoba Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, held Oct. 24 at the Metropolitan Event Centre.

A 2006 graduate of RRC’s Graphic Design – Advanced program (now called Communication Design), Buhse launched the Coal and Canary brand with best friend Tom Jansen in 2014. The pair expected to start slow, selling a few hand-poured candles to friends and family, but mere months later were scrambling to fill Oscar and Grammy Awards swag bags while meeting the rising demand from their first retail clients.

These days, they’re a regular presence at pop-up shops and makers’ markets throughout the city, and their candles — made from high-quality soy and vegetable wax, with scents running the gamut from Don’t Be Chaito The Cider Made Me Do It— can also be found at their storefront in The Forks Market.

Buhse was working full-time as a web designer when she and Jensen first began brainstorming ideas for their business. She’d been encouraged to pursue graphic design training at RRC by a high school guidance counsellor, and while she found the program “surprisingly hard,” she’s eternally grateful for the advice. Read More →

Resilience, respect, strength: RRC board member recognized for leadership impact

October 22, 2019

Ashley RichardFuture of Good has named Ashley Richard one of 21 Canadian youth reshaping governance in 2019.

Richard, who was appointed to Red River College’s Board of Governors in 2018, says she is “honoured and humbled by the recognition.”

The annual list celebrates young directors making significant contributions to the non-profit boards on which they serve. The Future of Good blog tells the stories of people making a positive impact on the world around them. This year’s list was drawn from more than 125 nominees across Canada, including entrepreneurs, public servants, academics, activists, and more.

Richard, a woman of Ojibwe, Métis and Filipino heritage, says serving on RRC’s board allows her to play a vital role in shaping the future of Manitoba’s economy by supporting the achievements and successes of the College’s Indigenous students.

“My goal is to ensure that RRC offers the best we have to our students,” she says. “They are our present and our future.”

At 29, Richard may be one of the board’s youngest members, but she’s no stranger to achievement herself.

The story of how she survived homelessness, poverty, abuse and assault made the pages of Maclean’s magazine in 2015. After completing a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from the Asper School of Business, where her final project on Indigenous economic development was published in the Journal on Aboriginal Economic Development, she worked at Leaders International and the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. Today she is a youth engagement activator for TakingITGlobal, a worldwide network dedicated to empowering young people to do good in their communities. Read More →