Safety & Training
Tec Voc unveils new $4.3-M aerospace training facility
January 29, 2024 By Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg’s new aerospace training facility is ready for takeoff with capacity to roughly double the number of high school graduates ready to enter the specialized workforce every year.
On Thursday, nearly nine years after the project was first announced, Tec Voc unveiled a handful of renovated workshops and an addition to house more students at 1555 Wall St.
“Since I was little, I’ve always been fascinated with airplanes, so I’ve always seen myself in the aerospace industry,” said Chanel Calaguas, a Grade 10 student at Technical-Vocational High School.
The 15-year-old said the project’s completion — and as a result, the ability to work in a dedicated aerospace lab instead of cramming into the auto shop for lessons — have made her courses feel more authentic and renewed her interest in the sector.
The upgrades include a new 5,000-square-foot, two-storey addition and a 5,800-square-foot renovation.
The $4.3-million project, funded by the province and completed shortly before the winter break, will allow the school to expand its welding, machining and aerospace capacity.
Chanel is among about 100 students registered in aerospace at Tec Voc, which is available to teenagers and adult learners.
Tec Voc can add 100 more registrants, double its machining student population of 60 and bolster the welding stream from 150 to 225 participants, said Drew Tapley, an aerospace teacher who oversees the heavy vocational department.
During a news conference, Education Minister Nello Altomare said student interest and industry demand were both behind the initiative that the NDP provincial government announced in 2015.
“It’s also really forward thinking here. We know that this is an important industry in Manitoba, so we have to have spaces to train people and this is one of those spaces. This will be the premiere space in the province to do this for kids so they can be work-ready right when they graduate,” Altomare said.
Manitoba is home to Canada’s third-largest aerospace industry, the minister noted, listing off Magellan Aerospace and Boeing Winnipeg as two major local employers.
Elected officials, staffers from the Winnipeg School Division and representatives from UBuild Construction packed into Tec Voc’s new facility to celebrate the long-awaited occasion.
Attendees had the opportunity to tour state-of-the-art facilities, including new “vocational flex spaces” — classrooms that can be transformed into labs — and larger safety zones surrounding machines that were made possible because of additional shop space and a layout reshuffle.
Grade 10 welding student Amari Aarrestad said her hands-on classes are less crowded, more organized and brighter, owing to the installation of new lights, in comparison to last year.
“We have way more space and freedom to work,” said Paula Cadiz, a 15-year-old aerospace student.
For Tapley, the biggest difference is the air quality inside the building.
The new ventilation system and power requirement upgrades were among the costliest changes, but both were critical to “future-proof” the workshops given regulations are ever-changing, the aerospace teacher said.
He noted the overhaul, which moved aerospace training so the program shares space with machining, makes sense because students have similar learning objectives.
Graduates of the aviation and aerospace technologies stream study everything from aircraft components and functions to sheet-metal fabrication and repair.
Transcona’s Murdoch MacKay Collegiate runs a similar metals and aerospace program.