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State-of-the-art tools boost North Island College’s programs

North Island College automotive instructor Patrick Belfry supervises a student performing a wheel alignment at the Port Alberni campus. - KATYA SLEPIAN/ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS
North Island College automotive instructor Patrick Belfry supervises a student performing a wheel alignment at the Port Alberni campus.
— image credit: KATYA SLEPIAN/ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS

The provincial government has granted North Island College $187,000 for new trades equipment last month—money that will be put to good use.

“North Island College is the leading trades training provider for students across the region, from Ucluelet to Port Hardy and beyond,” said NIC president John Bowman.

“This new equipment will help ensure North Island students continue to graduate with the skills and knowledge needed work in industries close to home and across  B.C.”

The province has invested over $1 million in NIC’s trades programs since spring 2014.

According to NIC  media liaison Christiana Wiens, that includes $123,008 of new equipment at the Port Alberni campus in the past two years.

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That funding has been put to good use by the welding department who received a $39,970 CNC plasma cutter (shown above) and $6,500 mill hog.

The new equipment is making a difference to welding student John Colvin.

“It just gives you a little bit of an advantage if the company has newer equipment,” he said.

“You can go set up a machine without looking foolish. Old machines were just ‘turn on, turn off, set a dial,’ now you have to figure out different configurations.”

The college’s  joinery department has also received upgrades— a $24,238 sliding panel saw and $15,000 edge sander (shown here).

“Students come from all over Canada to take the program,” said joinery  instructor Stephen McIntosh.

“The program is nine months long and at this point we’re working with hand tools and then from there we’ll progress up to small machines and then the big machines.”

Students taking the automotive program also got a boost, thanks to an Ohm’s Law circuit trainer  ($12,400) and high tech wheel alignment system ($24,900).

The circuit trainer allows students to practice their skills.

“We’ve got all kinds of component and jumper wires and built in meters. We can activate circuits with it, dial up different voltage levels with it, change bulb brightness. I’ve got seven of them with it,” said instructor  Patrick Balfry, noting that the circuit trainers have one big advantage.

“If the students do something wrong, they won’t blow anything up.”

Wheel alignment  has also gotten a little bit more high tech at NIC.

“This is a piece of equipment that is industry standard at all the high end car dealerships— Porsche, BMW, those kinds of places,” said Balfry.

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