Millwright program can lead to unexpected places
WHITEHORSE, YT — Variety of work, facing new challenges every day and problem-solving. These are the three things Jeff Stokes likes most about his new job at Mount Sima Ski Hill.
Stokes is the Maintenance Technician. He is responsible for ensuring the various pieces of machinery that keep the hill running smoothly operate at peak efficiency and any down time is minimal.
“We have snowmobiles, snow cats, generators, the snow-making equipment and chairlift. The job involves a lot of preventative maintenance and figuring out ways to take better care of all the equipment. There’s always something to do — I love it,” said Stokes.
After graduating the Millwright Pre-Apprenticeship program at Yukon College, the 25-year-old was surprised to find Millwrights enjoy an array of career projections, from work in mines and machine shops to power companies, hospitals, and even ski-hills.
He credits the program with opening his eyes to the wealth of opportunities offered by a millwright career.
“The breadth of knowledge that you get from a millwright ticket – welding, electric mechanics, alignment, rigging and hoisting. It’s a robust, but hyper-condensed trade that can take you anywhere,” said Stokes.
“The program is a solid grounding in how an industrial machine shop works. Logan Sherk, the instructor, thoroughly covers the different elements you encounter – from several tonnes of machinery and rigging down to a thousandth of an inch,” said Stokes.
“There is lots of hands-on machine work and one-on-one time with Logan, plus site visits to machine shops at working mines connect students to career advice and mentorship from experienced millwrights. It’s an encouraging introduction to a multi-faceted trade and the College provides a lot of support to help you successfully finish and embark on a career,” he added.
“I found there was a big learning curve between leaving school and starting my first job, so by getting students out into various shops where they can see how professional workplaces operate and witness the range of jobs a millwright can tackle I try to bridge this for them,” said Logan Sherk, instructor and Red Seal machinist.
Stokes also graduated with several small tools he fabricated himself that come in handy at Mount Sima, such as punches used for precision drilling.
“There are many practical products the students create as part of learning different skills. The students also have input on the individual and group projects we tackle during the program,” said Sherk.
Students learn to operate equipment and complete projects in the millwright shop inside the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining building at Ayamdigut campus.
The shop features traditional machinist tools such as four manual lathes and three manual milling machines, as well as two Haas computer operated lathes, a Haas Mini Mill and a CNC (Computer Numeric Controlled) Router.
Upon completion of the program, students can challenge the level one apprentice exam and will possess hours towards their first-year apprenticeship. Graduates can find employment in new mine start-ups, industrial machinery and fabrication shops in the territory.
The 17-week Millwright Pre-Apprenticeship program begins in January. Application and registration is now open for the eight available seats. Applicants must possess English 10 and Math 10 or equivalent to qualify.
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