News and Events
Educational collaboration aligns students with industry
April 6, 2020
Students in the Built Environment Engineering Technology (BEET) program at Medicine Hat College (MHC) had a unique opportunity to learn from industry professionals during a one-day experiential workshop focused on the rebar industry.
Four employees of A&H Steel visited MHC’s Medicine Hat campus in February to meet with college program administrators and provide hands-on learning to students in the classroom.
Glenise Harvey, co-owner of A&H Steel, says the idea for the collaboration with MHC came from a meeting with Samantha Trollope, an alumni of MHC’s BEET program (formerly known as CADD & Technical Illustrator) and current employee of A&H Steel.
“We had a vision to go directly into high schools and post-secondarys to attract more people to the rebar industry. In meeting with Samantha, she recommended we approach Medicine Hat College, having graduated from the program prior to joining our team.”
Brad Freeman, people development and engagement coordinator at A&H Steel, then contacted program coordinator Peter Kelly to discuss what opportunities existed for A&H to connect directly with students.
“Peter was very accommodating and open to ideas as to what we could do to align students with the industry,” says Freeman. “The rebar industry is typically unseen, so it’s about creating awareness for students and future graduates as there are lots of job opportunities in the iron-working industry.”
Kelly says that any opportunity to have industry engage directly with students is advantageous for the institution.
“Part of the reason I was excited during our initial conversation was because this is a company from Edmonton and developing relationships within and beyond our region is of great importance to us at MHC.
“A&H Steel is looking for qualified drafting detailers as well as skilled trades. Their offer to come to spend a day working with our second-year students was both generous and immensely valuable. For them, it was an opportunity to share some insight into their operations and cultivate connections with the goal of filling skilled positions in their organization and industry. For our program and students, it provided a meaningful learning experience,” remarks Kelly.
Throughout the day-long workshop, students received practical lessons on topics directly related to objectives in their program of study, working through problems and developing solutions for construction detailing.
In addition to prepared lessons and hands-on learning activities, A&H Steel provided valuable insight for students about understanding personal and company culture and values, and the importance of taking these into consideration when looking for a career, applying for jobs and conducting interviews.
For Blair Gordon, a student in the BEET program, one of his biggest takeaways from the workshop was the workplace application of the skills he learned, as well as industry standards and expectations for finished work.
“I wasn't aware of how much rebar went into a concrete structure and the amount of engineering required to ensure it works as designed,” explains Gordon. “My eyes were opened to the attention to detail that is necessary to perform the job and to perform it well, as well as how much time is involved in all aspects of production through to the finished product.”
Kelly adds that in his experience, engagement and retention of material is always greater when the opportunity exists for students to learn directly from industry.
“Ultimately, the enhanced experiential learning, the opportunity for relevant employment with a great company, and the potential for future partnerships with industry is why we develop and pursue these relationships.”
Talks of future collaborations between MHC and A&H Steel included potential scholarships and job placements, as well as A&H Steel returning back to campus to spend a week working with Introduction to Trades students, sharing insight into prospective employment opportunities and “knocking off the green” through practical application of the skills taught during their visit.
A&H Steel is the largest family-owned rebar company in Western Canada with operations in Edmonton and Vancouver and is celebrating its 50th anniversary in business this year. For more information on A&H Steel, visit https://ah-steel.com/.
Information on MHC’s BEET program can be found here.