Welding students at Okanagan College recently sparked their torches for the first time in a newly retrofitted shop as a donation from Praxair’s Global Giving Program is helping the Kelowna campus outfit state-of-the-art workspaces for them.
“Praxair has a long history of developing talented STEM and skilled trade professionals that help us remain competitive globally,” said Praxair Canada president Sean Durbin.
“Having this kind of training available locally through Okanagan College will help our region grow and we’re proud to be able to support our community in this way.”
Praxair has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizons fundraising campaign behind the $33-million renovation and expansion of the college’s trades training facilities.
Praxair Canada’s donation was also supplemented by a matching grant through United Way Worldwide, bringing the overall donation up to almost $60,000.
Praxair supports STEM and skilled trades training worldwide through scholarships, donations and initiatives.
Last year, the company developed the Praxair Skills Pipeline, a program to help address the growing need for skilled workers in today’s global economy.
The donation to the college supported the construction and equipping of six welding booths in the new shop, which will boast 36 booths in total.
Students will continue to have access to 32 booths in an older shop space behind the new facilities.
“Despite slowdowns in a number of sectors like oil and gas, we are seeing that the demand for welders in Western Canada remains strong,” said Steve Moores, Okanagan College dean of trades and apprenticeship.
“Our welding programs are wait-listed and train in two shifts, morning and night, five days a week, to accommodate as many students as we can.”
With potential for the growth of LNG and shipbuilding on the horizon in B.C., Moores says the college is building for the future and working closely with industry partners to stay current on the newest technologies and techniques.
“This new welding shop is going to provide our students with a completely modern learning environment with all the latest technologies and equipment that they will encounter out in the industry,” he said.
In addition to new technologies, improvements to the shop include more efficient lighting, heating and cooling, and a more efficient extraction system which improves ventilation.