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DC grads give advice on life after college at DC Talks: Alumni Series event

Two Durham College (DC) graduates returned to campus on February 6, meeting with students to discuss their careers and life after graduation during the annual DC Talks: Alumni Series event.

This year’s event featured Gabby De Sousa, who graduated from the college’s women-only Elevating Devices Mechanic (EDM) pre-apprenticeship training program in 2016 and EDM apprenticeship program in 2017. Joining her was Nicholas Coleman, a 2016 graduate of DC’s Architectural Technology program.

Gabby De Sousa:

During her time at DC, Gabby proudly shared her experiences, not only as a student but also as a female studying a skilled trade. Representing the college, she attended the Clarington Energy Seminar in 2015, presented to the Whitby Town Council about the women-only EDM pre-apprenticeship program and spoke with Elevator World Magazine in February, 2017 about DC’s female-focused elevating devices recruitment efforts. Gabby now works as an apprentice for Delta Elevator Co. and will be writing her certification exam in January, 2021, as she builds on her DC training through the varied, hands-on problem solving she does each day on the job.

In addition to launching her career, Gabby is giving back to her alma mater by volunteering her time as a member of the DC Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. She also served as an alumni representative at the college’s Taste of the Trades event in November 2019.

During the event, Gabby encouraged young women to explore career paths they may had never considered before, and to not be afraid of saying yes to new opportunities.

Nicholas Coleman:

Nicholas began his career right after graduating in 2016, working for a number of integrated design firms. In his current role as architectural technologist for the Toronto studio of Lemay, he is able to combine his passion for science, technology and sustainable design with creative thinking, analytical sensibility and technological savvy on a broad variety of large-scale projects including towers for financial institutions, medical labs and luxury residential. He is also a licensed technologist with the Ontario Association for Applied Architectural Sciences and a member of the national innovation team at Lemay.

As he answered student questions, Nicholas emphasized the importance of seeking out mentorship from those in the industry and following what motivates you, instead of the path that seems the most natural after graduation.

DC Talks: Alumni Series is part of DC’s backpack2Briefcase program, a series of events designed to help students and recent alumni make a smooth transition from college to the workplace. Events and workshops are held throughout the year to offer opportunities for both personal and professional development that will enhance the skills and training students learn in the classroom.


Construction begins on Durham College’s Whitby campus Phase IV expansion

On January 16, Durham College (DC) employees, students and members of the broader community gathered at the Whitby campus to celebrate the start of construction on its Phase IV expansion, which has been designed to shine a spotlight on skilled trades training, innovation and education.

Also in attendance were Member of Parliament for Whitby, Ryan Turnbull; Member of Provincial Parliament, Lorne Coe; John Henry, chair for the Regional Municipality of Durham; and Whitby Deputy Mayor Steve Yamada, who, along with DC President Don Lovisa, spoke of the challenges currently facing skilled trades.

“The college continuously hears from its partners that they need more skilled workers and would like new programs developed to focus on emerging industries,” said Lovisa. “Yet in spite of our current efforts, the ability to keep up with the demand remains a challenge due to the physical space constraints at the Whitby campus. For example, the student population has increased by 130 per cent in the past 10 years.”

Given the skilled labour shortage at the regional, provincial and national level, the timing of this new project could not be better. Colleges Ontario forecasts that by 2030 the province will face a skilled labour shortage of more than 500,000 workers.

When it comes to skilled trades at DC, data from the last three years was recently studied, looking at seats available compared to applications for nine trades programs. It was found there were approximately 2,400 seats available, yet the college received approximately 7,000 applications for these programs.

To address this demand, the college has been undertaking development and diversification in Whitby since 2009. Phase IV will result in a 60,000 square-foot expansion, allowing DC to increase its student intake in Whitby by 700 to 750 over three to five years.

“More space will allow the college to focus on high-priority industries – DC’s post-secondary Electrical Engineering Technician, Electrical Techniques, Mechanical Technician – Elevating Devices and Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing programs, as well as the Electrician – Construction and Maintenance, Elevating Devices Mechanic and Plumber apprenticeship programs,” said Rebecca Milburn, executive dean of the School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship and Renewable Technology and principal at the Whitby campus. “Once complete, this expansion will significantly increase DC’s industrial skilled trades training capacity, while also creating more opportunities to participate in applied research projects to advance innovation and knowledge.”

The following are some of the unique features of the expansion:

  • A double-height shop lab to address the specialized needs of both the mechanical and construction programs. Home to a two-storey building model, the lab will allow plumbing students to work underneath it while elevating devices students will be able to work in an easily accessible dual-level elevator shaft.
  • Classrooms with moveable walls and furniture to accommodate various configurations.
  • Training labs with dedicated space and equipment for a range of post-secondary and apprenticeship programs.
  • Student touchdown spaces.
  • A fitness centre.
  • A food services facility.

Partnering with DC to help fund the expansion is the Town of Whitby, who is generously contributing $1 million over a five-year period to support the construction. A Building for Skills capital campaign will also be launched shortly to generate additional donations.

More information about the Phase IV expansion, as well as construction progress updates can be found at www.durhamcollege.ca/skills.


DC students go from touring to building the new Whitby campus residence

What began as an opportunity to see a building site up close, quickly evolved into summer employment for four students in Durham College’s Building Construction Technician program.

One moment they were touring the site of DC’s new residence with 31 of their fellow classmates and now they are helping to build it – doubling down on the already enriching experiential learning opportunity the site visit offered.

Many of the first and second-year students in the program had never been on a job site, let alone a multi-level build like the Whitby campus residence. From seeing the foundations and framing that form the structure of the residence, to identifying the related components and how they interact to prevent moisture and air infiltration and provide structural integrity and fire-resistance properties, the students were able to see the pages of their text books come to life in a real, concrete way.

It was during the tour that Pannonia Construction, the contractor building the residence, approached DC professor Al Martin about hiring summer students to work onsite. Information about the job opportunity was shared amongst the first and second-year students. Four were successful and are taking their skills from the classroom to the jobsite, honing their knowledge and building their resumes.

The Whitby residence will be open to students in September 2019.


Durham College students win gold and silver at 2019 Skills Ontario Competition

Durham College (DC) is proud to share that students David Paisley and Brett Harrison have won the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the Heating Systems Technician contest at the 30th annual Skills Ontario Competition held in Toronto from May 6 to 8. Both competitors are studying in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Techniques program at DC.

Paisley and Harrison earned their medals by demonstrating practical and theoretical skills in heating system fundamentals with special attention given to health and safety regulations. They also demonstrated knowledge of controls, tools, and testers used in industry, and completed a job interview related to their technical career path.

Over the three-day event, DC students competed against more than 2,300 participants from across Ontario in over 68 unique contest areas.

“We’re incredibly proud of our students’ achievements at this year’s Skills Ontario Competition,” said Dr. Rebecca Milburn, executive dean, School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship & Renewable Technology, and principal of the Whitby campus. “Competing at this level provides students with an opportunity to actualize all of the career-ready skills and knowledge they have developed in their classes. Their success is a testament to the impact of DC’s focus on experiential learning and the dedication of our students and faculty.”

As the gold-medal winner, Paisley will represent DC and Ontario in the 25th Skills Canada National Competition that will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Tuesday, May 28 and Wednesday, May 29.

Skills Ontario is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the skilled trades and technologies as viable, first-choice career options to Ontario youth through programs and initiatives such as provincial skills competitions.


Durham College applauds Ontario budget commitment to modernize apprenticeship training

The 2019 Ontario Budget commitment to create a one-window digital portal for apprentices will produce a more highly qualified workforce, Ontario’s colleges said today.

“This will ensure more people enrol in apprenticeship training,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College (DC). “It will produce more apprentices to help Ontario close the skills gap.”

The current application system is awash in red tape. There is no clear application process and many people seeking to become apprentices find it difficult to get matched with willing employers.

The creation of a one-window portal will make the application process straightforward and easily accessible. Ontario’s colleges are eager to support the efforts to create this new portal.

“The government clearly recognizes it should be as easy for students to apply to be apprentices as it is to apply to any other college or university program,” Lovisa said. “Modernizing our apprenticeship system will help make it one of the best in the world.”

Other budget highlights to produce a stronger workforce included:

  • Establishing programs to encourage people to enter the skilled trades.
  • Launching a new micro-credentials pilot this spring to provide people with the skills employers are seeking.

DC is known for its skilled trades and welcomes new programs that encourage young people to enter technical and trade-related programs at the apprenticeship and post-secondary levels.  “Our current plans to expand the Whitby campus to provide new capacity to welcome over 700 additional students into skilled trades,” said Lovisa. This expansion will focus on high-priority industries as well as trades like electricians and millwrights, and emerging areas such as boilermakers, all of which have been identified as being in high-demand.

DC also offers micro-credentials in a number of areas and looks forward to opportunities to expand this growing trend that recognizes specific skills and knowledge necessary for success in many careers.

“College education is pivotal to Ontario’s success and to ensuring more people find rewarding careers,” said Lovisa. “We look forward to working with the government to helping more people acquire the expertise that is essential to success in this new economy.”


Automotive students unveil 500 horsepower MK4 Roadster

On December 14, Durham College (DC) students in their final semester of the Automotive Technician – Service and Management program proudly unveiled a project that has been two years in the making – a road-ready, Factory Five Racing MK4 Roadster, built entirely by them.

Assembled piece-by-piece throughout four semesters, this unique shop project allowed the students to get their hands dirty while putting into practice the same mechanical theory they were learning in the classroom. Their first class started with taking a complete inventory of every component, a skill that will come in handy for students wishing to pursue a career as a parts and service advisor. They soon moved on to more complicated projects, like building a transmission or braking system, as their classes advanced.

What began as 25 boxes full of automotive components on day one of their first year has become an example of the exciting experiential learning opportunities that await students at DC. With the roadster complete, students will now have a strong foundation in the automotive industry, having gained hands-on experience in parts management, mechanical troubleshooting, exterior body work and more.

The Automotive Technician – Service and Management program offers students a mix of theory in mechanical procedures and essential business skills so that they are prepared for a large selection of jobs in the automotive sector – from a technician to parts advisor, and everything in between.


DC student wins silver at 2018 Skills Canada National Competition

Oshawa, Ont. – Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that second-year student Keeshan Sharma from the Automotive Technician – Service and Management (Motive Power Technician) program, has won the silver medal in the automobile technology category at the 24th annual Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) in Edmonton, Alta. from June 4 to 5.

Sharma advanced to the national competition following his gold-medal performance at the Skills Ontario Competition in May. He represented DC and Ontario while competing against top students from across Canada. In the automobile technology category, competitors faced practical assignments and real-life auto-repair situations related to correctly inspecting, repairing and adjusting engines, electrical function, and vehicle performance, among other skills.

“DC is very proud of Keeshan and all of our students who excelled in this year’s provincial and national skills competitions,” said Dr. Rebecca Milburn, associate vice-president, Academic, DC. “Their performance is further proof that when dedicated, hard-working students meet career-driven, hands-on learning programs, like those offered at DC, the result is a success.”

Organized by Skills/Compétences Canada, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting skilled trades and technologies among Canadian youth, SCNC is Canada’s only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices in the country.

Each year, more than 500 young people from all regions of Canada advance through local, regional and provincial/territorial events to reach SCNC and participate in more than 40 skilled trade and technology competitions.

By providing a forum where Canadian youth can compete at the national level, SCNC provides hands-on work experience related to skilled trade and technology careers. The initiative also helps to raise awareness about skilled trade and technology sectors to Canadian youth and their influencers.