The skyline at Red Deer College took on a new look Tuesday, when a 21-metre derrick was hoisted into position on the east side of campus.
Donated by Red Deer-based High Arctic Energy Services Inc., the lofty piece of oilpatch equipment will help provide valuable training to students in the college’s rig technician program, said Wayne Sehlin, the program’s lead instructor.
“I don’t know of anybody else who has one,” he said, referring to other post-secondary institutions.
Red Deer College’s rig technician program provides the educational segment for the three-year apprenticeship required to become a journeyperson rig technician. Previously, said Sehlin, the college had to look elsewhere when its students left the classroom.
“For that component of our program, we’ve been sending the students to some of the local training providers.”
Tim Waines, the acting associate dean of trades and manufacturing technology at RDC, emphasized in a news release the derrick’s value.
“Any time our students can get their hands dirty on real equipment, especially a derrick for this program, means they’ll be that much more prepared in terms of skills and safety when they’re out in the field.”
The new derrick, which includes a functioning set of draw works and winches, will allow for hands-on training in a variety of areas, said Sehlin. Some of these will extend beyond the petroleum sector.
“We have a platform that’s going to be welded onto it, and we’re going to use it for fall protection training and high-angle rescue.”
Training opportunities should also result for students in other trades, such as millwrights, electricians, mechanics and welders.
Sehlin is optimistic that a variety of oilpatch-related equipment will be available to rig technician students in the future. The derrick, which is valued at $150,000, is a great first step.
In addition to High Arctic’s donation, gift-in-kind support related to the installation and preparation of the derrick came from Roll’n Oilfield Industries, Group2 Architecture & Engineering, Studon Electric & Controls, and DFI.
Bruce Thiessen, CEO of High Arctic, said in the RDC release that promoting the training of oilpatch workers is in his company’s, and his industry’s, best interest.
“The biggest challenge our industry is facing is lack of a qualified workforce,” said Thiessen.
A report issued in March by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada projected that the domestic petroleum industry could require as many as 130,000 additional workers by 2020, including 102,000 in Alberta.