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Helping students keep the big rigs running

Helping students keep the big rigs running

By Glenda McCarthy

It’s no secret that CNA uses cutting-edge technology to effectively teach anywhere, and the blended learning approach leading the way has been for a block of advanced training for Heavy Duty Equipment Technician (HDET) apprentices at Labrador West campus. Whether it is academic or financial in nature, student access has
long been a focus of the college. With the ever-expanding development of online learning capabilities, students are able to access training opportunities that best suit their needs. For HDET apprentices from Labrador West, the college has found a way for students to remain in their community to complete all classroom studies and a portion of their practical training under the direct supervision of a HDET program instructor at the Bay St. George campus in Stephenville Crossing, some 1,600 kilometres away.

Apprentices at both campuses, and their instructor, are brought together via a state-of-the-art blended learning environment, which includes two-way video conferencing, use of interactive SMART Boards, a high resolution document/imaging camera, as well as the learning management system Desire2Learn, which houses course notes and
materials to ensure apprentices can access them on-demand. Richard Sawyer, campus administrator at Labrador West, says this has opened up a host of opportunities for the campus to expand its program reach.

“The theory part of the course is delivered through video conference from Bay St. George; however, the practicals are done onsite. Since we don’t have the program here, industry partners, like the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC), agreed to provide the necessary equipment and tools. IOC has contributed a lot already. Without this equipment, the apprentices would have to travel outside to Bay St. George campus to do their practical training.”

Most recently, IOC donated a Cummins engine to the program. The engine, which weighs 20,000lbs, was taken out of a Komatsu 830E haulage truck, which has a single load capacity of 260 tonnes. The engine costs $375,000 when new. However, since it has been used and rebuilt a number of times, Sawyer estimates it would probably now be valued at about $25,000. 

“IOC has contributed a number of items for the practical/shop assignments in the HDET advanced apprenticeship training program.They’ve given us a couple of engines, transmissions and alternators, a mine cart and a skid steer loader, and a shipping container to store the items in.” Sawyer says IOC is just one of a number of companies from Labrador West who contributed equipment. “Since we don’t have the program at the campus, local industries agreed to outfit our shop with the equipment required to complete the practical training onsite,” Sawyer says. “The equipment required for this program is very expensive.

The college cannot afford to purchase all these items out of its apprenticeship training budget. Therefore, we asked industry to donate equipment and tools. Companies like IOC, whose apprentices benefit directly from a local delivery of the training, saw that it was obviously in their interest to partner with us.”

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