Ontario technical college invests in manufacturing technology
In May 2012, Ranbir Ajji, took home the gold medal at the Skills Canada-Ontario Technological Skills Competition for precision machining.
Vincent Ramsperger took home the silver medal for mechanical CADD. Both are students at Loyalist College of Applied Arts & Technology in Belleville, ON.
“We sent two students to the competition and both of them won,” says John Poste, coordinator for the college’s two-year Manufacturing Engineering Technician program and one-year Mechanical Techniques program.
The students are just two of the skilled manufacturing graduates streaming out of the college’s doors and being snapped up quickly by firms desperately seeking skilled workers for their manufacturing shops, says Poste and John Grieve, fellow coordinator and professor of the Welding Techniques Program.
“We’re starting a two-year welding fabricator technician program in 2013 and we implemented this because there was a big push from our Advisory Board—the same Board oversees the CNC machining and the welding and fabricating programs here—who are members of the manufacturing community in the region to get this going,” explains Grieve. “Employers tell us they can’t get the skilled labour they need. And it’s not just here in Ontario. I had two students go out West and on the first day at a job fair they landed good welding jobs. They tell me their phones haven’t stopped ringing with employers offering them jobs with more money.”
Many of Loyalists’ graduates of the skilled trades programs now work at several of the region’s manufacturing operations. The region is home to a number of manufacturers—Autosystems Division of Decoma International, Continental Conveyors, George A. Wright, Kennametal (formerly Deloro Stellite Inc.), Metso Minerals (mining and construction production), Quest-Tech Precision, The Machining Center, Transformix (designer and manufacturer of customized automated systems), and Stegg Ltd. (precision screw machine product manufacturer).
“Our students graduate with the ability to troubleshoot software programs for CAD, perform QC tasks and program and operate CNC machines,” says Poste.
Indeed, two of his graduates now work at Beclawat Manufacturing Inc. in Belleville.
“They’re designing windows for high speed trains that Bombardier manufactures and also doing work for military contracts. One of my graduates went to work there four years ago and the company didn’t have any CNC manufacturing. He set up the entire CNC machining department based on what he learned here.”
Like any other manufacturing shop, Loyalist purchases machines for its machining, and fabricating and welding shops. And like most, it has a limited budget. So when industry suppliers provide a helping hand, Poste and Grieve are appreciative of the donations.
Among the donations is a large Mitutoyo CMM, donated by Autosystems Manufacturing. Other industry supporters includeContinental Conveyors and Metso Minerals who periodically supply the shops with steel. Poste singles out Sandvik Coromant as a supportive industry supplier.
“The company has been so good to us providing us with inserts, cutting prices for products by two thirds. Tooling is so important for us in the shop; we have a whole component of our manufacturing engineering program that is devoted to tooling. We study the different types of tooling for different metals, cutting speeds and the impact it has on different materials, for example.”
Loyalist College’s manufacturing facilities consist of a machining shop, fabricating and welding shop, and an industrial maintenance shop.