In an era where vehicles practically drive themselves, you’d think the automotive trade might have evolved with the technology. But female mechanics are still almost as rare as flying cars.
Elaine Lagasse is hoping to change that.
A graduate of Red River College’s Automotive Service Educational program, Lagasse is also RRC’s first female automotive instructor. She sees the number of female students walking in – or perhaps kicking down – the door of the Automotive Technician Certificate program, and it’s not pretty.
“We probably average three or four per cent women,” she says. “So (in a program with 100 students), that’s three or four women. The numbers are very, very low.”
Lagasse was the only woman in her program’s class of 2004. She graduated with top marks and received the Ken Preboy Memorial Award before moving on to become a Red Seal Automotive Technician for four years, then landed her current position as an RRC instructor in 2008.
“There’s no reason why the numbers haven’t picked up more than they have,” Lagasse says of the program’s relative lack of female students. “I think the big thing is just breaking the barrier and realizing that there’s nothing that makes (the automotive trade) more suited for men versus women.” Read More →
Profile by Sherry Kaniuga (Creative Communications, 1998)
Scott Hinkson has the kind of schedule that might have you picturing him slipping into a phone booth before rushing off to his next stop, red cape flapping in the wind.
By day, he’s a nose-to-the-grind Senior Project Manager at Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC). After hours, he instructs on-campus and distance courses, including one he wrote himself, in both of the Continuing Education certificate programs he’s graduated from at Red River College: Business Analyst (2010) and Project Management (2011). He also sits on RRC’s Business Analyst Advisory Committee, and at home, he’s a father to a busy almost-three-year-old son.
Hectic, sure. But somehow Hinkson still finds time to fit in performing as a successful local musician and working on releasing his fifth album.
“My first love is music, ever since I was a little tyke listening to Simon & Garfunkel on my parents’ old 8-tracks,” says Hinkson, who sings and plays guitar, plus pretty much whatever other instrument he envisions for his songs. Since 2004, he has released a short film soundtrack, and garnered local radio play and media attention with four solo albums.
“Nowadays, I have to book a day off for the house to be quiet enough for me to actually finish writing a song,” he says. “Usually I have about a 15-minute window to come up with an idea for a song, like while my little guy is having a bath.”
Hinkson’s time is much more regimented at work, where he not only schedules his own day, but his colleagues’ as well. As Senior Project Manager, he runs a handful of large projects at any one time, defining each project’s needs, identifying risks, then ensuring the project team delivers within the agreed-upon scope, budget and schedule. Read More →
Profile by Stacy Cardigan Smith (Creative Communications, 2006)
There’s a sense of pride that comes with creating a piece of furniture from start to finish. For Vern Bergen, that feeling is what led him towards a career in cabinetry.
“When you build a house, generally you have 30, 40 people working on in. You can say, ‘I was a part of that house.’ But when you build a piece of furniture, you have all of it. You’ve done it all,” he says. “There’s a lot more detail involved.”
As an instructor in Red River College’s Cabinetry and Woodworking Technology program, Bergen helps students realize the satisfaction that comes with creating a piece of furniture, cabinetry or millwork, and teaches them the technological aspects of the trade. But he didn’t always think he’d end up working for the RRC.
Bergen, 45, first became interested in woodworking as a child; his earliest memory of working with wood is helping his dad, a carpenter, work on the family cabin at the age of eight.
Bergen attended a vocational high school where he took a dual diploma program in academics and carpentry. He then got a job in DeFehr Furniture’s Product Development department, which he loved.
“We’d be the first to build (a product) and we’d have to engineer it. We’d have to make sure it could go through the plants without a hiccup. We did the thinking so the plant didn’t have to.”
Many of his colleagues had their Red Seal in cabinetry, and their advanced level of expertise was obvious.
“When you’re working with all these journeymen [cabinetmakers], you notice the knowledge that they have. It goes beyond where we’re working,” he says. “For lack of a better word, it’s like they’re in the old boys’ club. I knew DeFehr, but they knew cabinetmaking. Big difference.” Read More →
Profile by Stacy Cardigan Smith (Creative Communications, 2006)
When’s the last time your work impacted a generation of students? Josephine Pulver has been able to make a difference in just a few short years.
Pulver joined Red River College’s faculty in 2011 as an instructor in Continuing Education’s Residential Decorating program. Since then, she’s implemented the Residential Decorating Practicum, partnered with Palliser Furniture to offer students the opportunity to design for an international company, and introduced two new courses: Decorating Software Applications and Eco-Friendly Décor.
“I think it might be a little bit of an ongoing joke now,” Pulver says of the frequency with which she brings ideas to her department head. But Pulver’s creativity and innovation is students’ gain – especially since RRC prides itself on producing industry-ready grads.
“[The College is] open to creative ideas,” says Pulver. “They’re open to suggestions as to how to move forward with the program. It’s not a stagnant situation.”
Pulver graduated from the University of Manitoba’s Interior Design program in 1995 and has worked in the industry ever since. She felt a practicum would have been beneficial to her own career and wanted to give RRC students the opportunities she didn’t have. Enter the Residential Decorating Practicum, which is brand new this year.
“When we graduated [from university] we didn’t have support from the community at all,” Pulver explains. “It’s hard to get your foot in the door to meet people. A practicum really helps a student because even if they don’t get a position where they’re placed, they’ve met people, they’ve seen how the industry works, and they have a reference.
The Palliser project is also new this year, and will hopefully prove to be an invaluable opportunity. In the final term of the Residential Decorating program, students will be tasked with creating a display booth for Palliser Furniture. Read More →