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This article was published 18/6/2018 (1052 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Second World War-era hangar at Southport is being used to train a new generation of aircraft maintenance engineers needed to keep planes and helicopters flying safely in Canada and around the world.
Red River College’s Stevenson campus – Aviation and Aerospace (75 Musketeer Rd.), offers students from across Canada the chance to fulfil their apprenticeship requirements to earn an aircraft maintenance engineer’s licence.
They come as journeypersons to the campus to attend nine weeks of classes each year over four years. Once done their training, they can apply for a Transport Canada aircraft maintenance engineer licence.
Academic co-ordinator Gary van der Zweep said the Stevenson campus at Southport allows people who are already working for aviation and aerospace companies to receive the training they need to move up in their field and get their licence.
"This is the only place that the aircraft maintenance engineer apprenticeship takes place," he said. "Our students already have experience in the industry. That elevates the level of training here."
The students move through four classroom spaces as they complete their four years’ of training. Van der Zweep joked that the fourth-year students get the classroom with the windows.
The students’ tuition and other costs are usually subsidized by their employers. If they come from a distant location, there is residential accommodation at Mynarski House, a dormitory close to the Stevenson campus within Southport.
The Southport campus also runs training for maintenance engineers who are writing the exam for their Transport Canada licences. These include people from around the world who work on Canadian-owned aircraft.
Van der Zweep said some of the students are working toward an AME license as a second career. Others might just have their Grade 12 and be hired by aviation and aerospace companies located in northern and remote communities in Canada. Their employers are willing to invest in their employees’ training as it’s more likely the employees will stay within their communities and use their skills to benefit the companies.
The instructor-student ratio is one to 12 in the classroom and one to eight in the shop areas. Van der Zweep said this means students get the individual attention they need.
"We have about a 95 per cent success rate in students getting their licence," van der Zweep said.
The four terms of instruction include a wide variety of subjects including electronics, carpentry and plumbing, among others. Students work on aircraft ranging from two-seater turbo-props to jets, with the focus on accident prevention in all cases.
Maples Collegiate in Winnipeg offers the level one training that enables students to enter the aircraft maintenance engineer program at RRC’s Stevenson campus in Winnipeg. A five-month introductory course at the Winnipeg campus gives high school graduates an insight into the industry.
Van der Zweep said he foresees a high demand for AMEs in Canada and other countries. "In about five to 10 years there will be a big demand as people retire."
Wendy Bartinski, who oversees administration and finance at the Stevenson campus in Southport, said the average ratio of male to female students is about 95 to five, but there’s no reason for women not to take the AME training.
She’s hoping that an upcoming event that will bring about 200 Grade 8 students to tour the campus and other companies within Southport will help young female students to see opportunities for them in the aviation and aerospace industry.
For more information on Red River College’s Stevenson campus – Aviation and Aerospace, see http://blogs.rrc.ca/stevenson/programs/apprentice-aircraft-maintenance-journeyperson
St. Vital community correspondent
Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.