Conestoga news

April 9, 2024 2:29 PM

Magna Skills Showcase gives trades students opportunity to share projects and network

Industrial skilled trades students at Conestoga demonstrated their new-found technical abilities at the inaugural Magna Skills Showcase.

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Students Kabir Mann and Kate Cooper talk with Magna International representatives at the Cambridge - Reuter Drive campus.

Representatives from the mobility technology company and automotive supplier visited the college’s campuses in Cambridge on March 25 to tour and connect with students about what they’re learning and producing in various programs, including Electrical Technician - Industrial, Electro Mechanical and Automation Maintenance, Mechanical Technician - Tool and Die/Tool Maker, Mechanical Techniques - Industrial Millwright, Mechanical Techniques - Precision Machining Tooling, and Manufacturing Engineering Technology - Welding and Robotics.

Kabir Mann, in his final term of the two-year Electro Mechanical and Automation Maintenance program, eagerly shared his projects in the robotic lab at the Cambridge - Reuter Drive campus.

“It teaches you how to troubleshoot because we’re doing trial and error all the time,” Mann told Magna employees as he demonstrated a small-scale assembly line that uses electrical, pneumatic, programmable logic controllers and an array of sensors. “This was definitely a lot of fun to put together.”

Mann received one of 10 Magna scholarships worth $2,500 available to Conestoga students in School of Trades & Apprenticeship and School of Engineering & Technology, established to support students pursuing a career in the skilled trades. Scholars were also at the Cambridge - Fountain Street campus to demonstrate their projects.

Last fall, Magna International Inc. committed $1 million over the next five years to establish the Magna Centre for Industrial Skilled Trades at the Conestoga Skilled Trades Campus on Reuter Drive, including the scholarship program, to support innovative and inclusive trades training programs at the college to fuel the talent pipeline and address skilled labour shortages.

The scholarship was a great help for Mann, who is pursuing a new career direction. “Robotics and automation - that’s the wave of the future.”

Mann was pleased to have an opportunity to connect with the Magna employees, giving an animated presentation on his work. Along with showing off the model assembly line that moved around pieces in mechatronic carts, he explained a motor stop/start circuit that mimics what would be found in industry on a much smaller scale.

“It’s great. It will give us a chance to show off our skills,” Mann said of the event. “And it gives us an opportunity to talk to potential employers.” 

For the Magna team, the event was a great opportunity to meet students and see them in action.

“This event was extremely helpful for our leaders to understand what the students are learning, what programs are available, and to see the students in the class environment demonstrating what they are learning,” said Chris Patinios, talent acquisition lead. And it was a good opportunity for the students, as well. “This was a really great event, very casual allowing students to interact directly with our leaders.”

Kate Cooper found it reassuring to have Magna representatives onsite, pointing out the equipment also used in the company’s manufacturing.

Cooper is also a student in the Electro Mechanical and Automation Maintenance program, starting in January, and keenly listened to Mann’s presentation.

Cooper wondered about the trades, and dipped her toe in with the college’s Try-A-Trade program in carpentry. The free four-week program provided a unique opportunity for people already in the workforce but considering a career change to try a trade through dedicated courses in a variety of industries.

“That opened the door to all the other trades programs that were offered at Conestoga,” said Cooper, who worked as an animator for 10 years.

Conestoga is a provincial leader in the delivery of trades and apprenticeship training to serve industry needs and the growing community. Comprehensive programming includes a wide range of post-secondary trades programs that provide pathways to employment in skilled trades careers as well as pre-apprenticeship training and in-school training for apprentices. Visit the School of Trades & Apprenticeship for more information.

The college’s School of Engineering & Technology offers a comprehensive suite of engineering and technology programs including Architecture, Civil, Construction, Electrical, Power, Energy, Electronics, Cyber, Computer, Environmental, Interior Design, Mechanical, Packaging, Woodworking and Welding. Credentials are wide ranging, from one-year certificates, two-year and three-year advanced diplomas, to graduate certificates and degrees.