College preps for new era in autobody repair through partnership with MPI

November 20, 2015


By investing in a new Centre of Excellence in automotive repair research and training — and by increasing apprenticeship opportunities and fostering partnerships with Red River College, Apprenticeship Manitoba and provincial high schools — Manitoba Public Insurance will ensure that autobody technicians remain highly skilled and able to respond to a rapidly evolving industry, it was announced today.

“With an eye to the future, we all recognize that the auto manufacturing industry is going through significant change. The autobody repair industry must keep pace for the sake of its customers,” said Gord Mackintosh, Minister Responsible for MPI, while unveiling plans for the soon-to-be-built Centre of Excellence.

“The new research and training centre provides an excellent opportunity for Manitobans to pursue highly skilled careers, and ensures there is the capacity to do cutting-edge autobody work in Manitoba.”

Through collaboration with industry partners like RRC, Apprenticeship Manitoba, the Automotive Trades Association, the Manitoba Motor Dealers’ Association and the Manitoba Commercial Vehicle Repair Association, MPI will offer improved training for workers in the province’s autobody repair industry.

By doing so, they’ll ensure vehicles damaged in collisions continue to be repaired safely and to original manufacturer standards, resulting in increased safety to the benefit of all Manitobans.

“The collaboration between Manitoba Public Insurance and Red River College will augment the educational experience for our students,” said RRC President Paul Vogt. “We recognize the importance of autobody repairers staying abreast of new vehicle design, construction, technology and repair techniques. Partnership with MPI is an innovative learning approach to meet the high demand for skilled employees throughout the industry.”

In addition to the academic outcomes, joint research studies between RRC and MPI involving composites and advanced trades techniques will ensure the completion of safe and reliable vehicle repairs by autobody repairers in Manitoba, said Vogt. Read More →

Cabinetmaking instructor receives Apprenticeship Manitoba honour

November 13, 2015


A cabinetmaking instructor from Red River College has won a prestigious provincial training honour from Apprenticeship Manitoba.

Todd Birtwhistle received this year’s Instructor of the Year honour at the Manitoba Apprenticeship Awards of Distinction, which recognize excellence in training and education.

An employee at the college for the last eight years (and himself an alum of RRC’s Apprenticeship Cabinetmaker program), Birtwhistle picked up the award at a reception in Winnipeg on Nov. 5.

His students describe him as an excellent instructor who enables apprentices to develop technical skills and self-motivation by giving them the tools and information they need to succeed, while also allowing them to make mistakes and supporting them when they take on increasingly complex tasks.

In addition, he encourages his students to strive for excellence and to take responsibility for their own learning, while always being there to assist and answer questions.

Birtwhistle (shown above, working with Grade 9 students during RRC’s Take Our Kids to Work Day) is known for regularly arriving early to open the Carpentry shop for his class, and for staying late to help students master difficult concepts or tasks. Read More →

Winnipeg to host hundreds of tradespersons-in-training during 2017 national Skills Canada competition

November 4, 2015


Winnipeg will play host to the 2017 Skills Canada National Competition, Jobs and the Economy Minister Kevin Chief announced today.

The event — for which Red River College will serve as one of several partners — is scheduled to take place from May 31 to June 3, 2017, at the RBC Convention Centre in downtown Winnipeg.

The competition is expected to attract more than 18,000 visitors and 500 youth participants — the latter group comprised of students and apprentices enrolled in trades training programs in colleges and high schools across Canada.

“Hosting the Skills Canada competition will mean thousands of Canadians will travel to the city to share their talents and see what Manitoba has to offer,” said Chief (kneeling in above photo), who stopped by RRC today to take part in the College’s annual Engineering Technology Student Pep Rally.

“We’re proud that our government has supported youth in the trades by offering them educational opportunities, financial support and a strong economy that offers people entering the trades a world of options.”

As always, the goal of the event is to promote the skilled trades and reinforce their importance in building a strong provincial economy — a mission RRC has for years shared with Skills Canada’s provincial arm.

“[The College] has been the host site for the annual Skills Canada Manitoba competition and we are very excited to be part of the 2017 Skills Canada National Competition coming to Winnipeg,” said RRC President Paul Vogt.

“We applaud the government of Manitoba on making skilled trades and technology a priority, and on their investment in our new state-of-the-art Skilled Trades and Technology Centre (STTC), currently under construction at the Notre Dame campus.”

RRC to help train tradeswomen to impart skills and expertise to next generation of workers

October 29, 2015


Red River College will train 10 Manitoba women who are already leaders in the skilled trades to become qualified instructors who can share their knowledge with the next generation of journeypersons, it was announced this week.

The women will receive a combined $55,000 in provincial funding to complete the Technical Vocational Teacher Education diploma program at RRC. Five are completing an accelerated one-year program, while the others will complete the program through part-time study.

“Some of our best role models will show young women the opportunities waiting for them with this program, and provide them with the skills and tools to succeed,” said Jobs and the Economy Minister Kevin Chief. “A career in the trades means a chance for them to earn a good living for themselves and their families, and a chance to give back in their hometowns and neighbourhoods.”

The news finds RRC continuing to play a central role in building capacity and driving the economy in Manitoba, says College President Paul Vogt.

“I am very proud that Red River College could demonstrate its leadership on this initiative,” said Vogt, “so we can help create pathways to success that will continue to encourage women to enter into many meaningful and rewarding careers in the skilled trades.” Read More →

Newly donated Jetstream touches down at RRC’s Stevenson Campus

October 22, 2015


Red River College President Paul Vogt accepted the keys to a $1-million Jetstream aircraft this morning, at a ceremony held to celebrate the history of Alberta’s Swanberg Air, and the company’s generous contribution to staff and students at RRC.

The British Aerospace Model Jetstream 31, along with associated equipment, manuals and training aids, was donated by the Swanberg family of Grande Prairie, Alta., and Fort St. John, B.C., in memory of company founder Sylvan Swanberg and his wife, Dorothy.

The Swanbergs’ daughter, Ann Sawyer, together with her son Konnor and employees of Swanberg Air (now Landsman Properties), were on hand at RRC’s Stevenson Campus to announce the donation, made in support of the College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) program, which trains students in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of fixed-wing planes and helicopters.

“Our family is very proud to be able to support the next generation of aircraft maintenance engineers,” said Sawyer. “Continuous education and hands-on training is so important in the aviation industry, and we’re happy the donation of the Jetstream 31 to Red River College will have a positive impact on students and industry.”

Vogt says the Jetstream will allow RRC to continue meeting the labour needs of the aerospace and aviation sectors.

“There is an increasing demand in the aviation industry for highly skilled graduates, and with Manitoba being home to the third largest aerospace sector in Canada, this working aircraft will enhance training opportunities,” said Vogt.

“We are grateful to the Swanberg family for their impactful donation, which allows students to train on state-of-the-art equipment and become leaders in their field.” Read More →

New student award creates seamless pathways for generations of Indigenous learners

October 22, 2015


Applications are still being accepted for the College’s new Seven Generations Award, available to any Indigenous student who’s the descendant (or dependant) of an RRC alum.

Launched last fall by RRC’s Aboriginal Student Support & Community Relations team, the award seeks to create a seamless educational pathway for the next seven generations of learners. Two awards worth $500 each are available each year.

Application requirements include:

  • Must be a full-time student (and provide enrolment/registration letter)
  • Must be of Aboriginal ancestry
  • Must fill out a general RRC awards application
  • Must submit a 500-word essay, which includes an explanation of your relationship to the RRC grad in question, as well as a description of your career goals, community involvement and cultural awareness

Application packages can be dropped off at RRC’s Aboriginal Centre (F209, Notre Dame Campus). The deadline for submissions is Fri., Oct. 30.

For more information, please contact Joan Machendagoos at 204.632.2363 or

Shown above: Recent RRC grad Tynan Selkirk (at left) joins his father, fellow RRC grad Rob Selkirk, in announcing the launch of the Seven Generations Award at an Aboriginal alumni event in 2014.

RRC leads nation’s colleges in research partnership growth, ranks among Top 10 research colleges for third consecutive year

October 22, 2015


Red River College ranks first among its Canadian contemporaries in the category of research partnership growth, and eighth overall on a new list of the nation’s Top 50 research colleges.

Announced today, the findings mark the third year in a row that RRC has placed in the Top 10 of the annual ranking, first released by Research Infosource in 2013.

Applied Research & Commercialization at the College continues to create and deliver more applied research and innovation resources for our partners and the communities we serve,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“Next to workforce-ready graduates, applied research offerings are key to our business community. They have led to many innovations in products, production methods and services delivered by Manitoba enterprises.”

Along with leading the nation in partnership growth (a new category), RRC increased its ranking in total number of research partnerships from twelfth to sixth, and total number of research projects from fifteenth to eleventh.

Read More →

Culinary grads score a clean sweep at Gold Medal Plates gala

October 21, 2015

OjjX6sH-rthtoaXq15ZtXd_W3pzP1pm4I2dDjZecBqY,DUSgDqwexQ30i-sHeivDfCpyisYI_IqV7WA2d1llzhYRed River College’s culinary winning streak continues, thanks to a recent sweep by our graduates at the prestigious Gold Medal Plates competition in Winnipeg.

Norm Pastorin, a 2002 alum of RRC’s Culinary Arts program, took the podium’s top spot at the Oct. 16 event, where he was joined by fellow grads Jesse Friesen (2009) and Melissa Makarenko (2006) in second and third place, respectively.

Pastorin (shown above at centre) is chef at The Cornerstone Bar and Restaurant in Osborne Village; Friesen (left) is chef at 295 York downtown, and Makarenko at Resto Gare in St. Boniface.

Pastorin’s winning dish — confit salmon with bacon-quinoa-salmon roe, pickled shallots, tamagoyaki and soy-ginger-anise glaze — earned him a gold medal at this year’s gala, which doubles as a fundraiser for the Canadian Olympic Foundation’s Own the Podium program.

Each year, the event finds local chefs battling each other and the clock — with just 90 minutes to prepare and serve their creations to 500 assembled guests.

Each chef also faces scrutiny from a panel of judges, which this year included RRC’s Jeff Gill (Director of Food Services at the College) and former staffers Mike Green (Peg City Food blogger and one-time Master Chef Canada competitor) and Luc Jean (chef at Mon Ami Louis, and winner of last year’s Gold Medal Plates competition). Read More →

College’s HR rep appointed to provincial advisory council on immigration, multiculturalism

October 20, 2015

275A human resources coordinator at Red River College is among those working to help newcomers to Manitoba achieve success, as part of a new provincial advisory council supporting government efforts to meet labour market needs.

Suenita Maharaj-Sandhu, Workplace Equity and Diversity Coordinator at RRC, will serve on the new Manitoba Advisory Council on Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, an amalgamation of the Manitoba Immigration Council and the Manitoba Ethnocultural Advisory and Advocacy Council.

Maharaj-Sandhu is serving on the Council’s Multiculturalism and Citizenship Committee, alongside members of the Winnipeg Police Service, the Manitoba Islamic Association, the Immigrant Centre Manitoba, and the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology.

She was recommended to the council through her longstanding work with organizations and individuals pursuing inclusion and diversity, including the RCMP Diversity Committee (of which she’s a member) and related groups such as Manitoba’s Islamic community. The new council members represent a diverse range of provincial sectors, including business, education, labour and social services.

“The Manitoba government is committed to helping newcomers succeed in our province,” Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun said in a written release last week.

“This new council will continue the good work of its predecessors by providing timely expertise and feedback to government as we work together to increase immigration to Manitoba to meet labour market needs, and to provide protection and resettlement for refugees, all of whom contribute to both our economy and our increasingly diverse and multicultural communities.” Read More →

RRC student named chair of United Way’s GenNext Council

October 8, 2015

Smoluk 2015Congratulations go out to Red River College student Adam Smoluk, who’s been named the new chair of the United Way of Winnipeg’s GenNext Council.

Smoluk, 35, is completing his Human Resource Management and Management Development studies through RRC’s School of Continuing Education.

As he explains, the GenNext program provides Winnipeg’s future leaders with an opportunity to become engaged in their community, while networking with like-minded individuals who share the same passion for the city. The council brings people together to create meaningful social change by providing tailored involvement opportunities.

“During my time on the council I’ve been proud of the dedication and determination of our GenNext membership,” says Smoluk, who’s served on the council since 2010. “I’m deeply honoured to serve and I’m looking forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Smoluk works as a program Manager for Film Training Manitoba and has served on the ACTRA Manitoba council and as an ACTRA representative on the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL)’s Human Rights Committee. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Youth Employment Services and is the Vice-chair of Essential Skills Manitoba.

An award-winning filmmaker, Smoluk studied on scholarship at the British American Drama Academy at Oxford University. He is the youngest graduate ever of the National Screen Institute’s Features First Program; his past accolades include the Future Leaders of Manitoba award, an Investors Group scholarship for leadership studies at The Banff Centre, and the MFL’s prestigious Al Cerilli Scholarship.