Welding lab opens in Meadow Lake

A ribbon of metal was ground apart by Carpenter High School Grade12 student Ryan Parsons at the Aug. 31 grand opening of the new welding lab located in the North West Regional College in Meadow Lake. The new welding lab came to fruition through a partnership between the college and the Northwest School Division No. 203 with financial support from both the provincial and federal governments.

By Rhonda Cooper

The ribbon was officially cut Aug. 31 on the $1.826 million welding lab at North West Regional College in Meadow Lake.

In use since the spring of 2011, students from the college and Carpenter High School have enjoyed the latest in technology and space to enhance their welding techniques and knowledge.

The 343 square meter, stand alone welding lab has 24 individual stations, doubling the number from the old facility, located at the former high school which is now presently Gateway Elementary School.

“The two biggest advantages of this lab is number one, it provides a safe learning environment, and two, we are turning out well rounded students,” said Mike Tourigny, Carpenter High School’s welding instructor. “For example, students could study physics all the way through high school and become a physicist. Kids can now study welding all the way through to being a welder.”

Tourigny noted in his eight years of teaching welding at CHS, all of his students have gone on to use their acquired skills in their chosen profession. “They may not all have become journeymen welders but they have gone into professions where welding is part of the job.”

Two of his current students, Joscelyn Gullickson and Ryan Parsons are both looking toward careers in the trade. Gullickson happened into the class by chance.

“In Grade 10 I was choosing classes and needed two filler classes,” she said. “A friend of mine suggested welding, so I decided to sign up. I found out I really liked it. It sparked my interest and now I want to make a career of it.”

Parsons always wanted to try welding and got his chance in the second semester of Grade 10.

“I took a chance on it and found out I liked it,” he said.

He too plans to make a career in the trade. While Gullickson is planning to attend NWRC following high school, Parsons has not yet decided where his post-secondary studies will take him.

Dave LaRocque, NWRC welding instructor has come full circle. Born and raised in Meadow Lake, LaRocque was a student in the program that he now teaches.

“I tell the kids, I was where you are only 10 years ago.”

The new lab allows students to learn and master more techniques making them more competitive when applying for employment. The program has a 12-student capacity.

The new facility was completed in a timely matter, having only been announced two years ago. Both Rob Clarke, MP for Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, and Meadow Lake’s MLA Jeremy Harrison applauded the partnership of the North West Regional College and the Northwest School Division for cooperating on the construction the a state-of-the-art lab.

Bryan Nylander, CEO and president of NWRC and Norman Deutscher chair of the college board, each noted the shared space and cost allows both schools to have access to a top-notch facility. Duane Hauk, Northwest School Division director, added the two institutes also had a shared purpose which was to increase the number of opportunities for students.

“With the proper training and this facility, our students are on the right path for their future,” Hauk said.

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