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Commercial Diving students settling nicely into new location in Marine Training Centre

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Commercial Diving students at the Marine Training Centre

People driving to work in Summerside early in the morning may wonder about the identities of the group of young men they see running on the boardwalk along Water Street. They seemed to appear mysteriously, early in the New Year. In fact, the 12 young men are students in Holland College’s Commercial Diving program, which recently relocated from Georgetown to the Marine Training Centre in Summerside.

The students are settling nicely into their new location. The move to the Marine Training Centre was necessary because the space the program was using in Georgetown was needed for the Plumbing,  Steamfitting/Pipefitting, and Welding Fabrication programs, and more space was required to make room for the introduction of the Iron Worker program next fall.

The move gives students in the Commercial Diving program more exposure to a marine training environment. In order to accommodate the program, a 4,000 sq. ft. two-storey wing is being added to the Marine Training Centre. The cost of the project, which was funded through the federal government’s Community Adjustment Fund, is in the area of $400,000. Students in the Power Engineering program, which has been located in the Marine Training Centre for quite some time, are moving into the new wing, and the Commercial Diving program has moved into an existing area of the MTC, less than 100 feet from the edge of the wharf.

Commercial Diving learning manager Stephen White said the new location is perfect.

“Before, we would have to pack all the gear into a van to get it down to the wharf,” he explained. “Now we can run the umbilical lines right out of  the shop and over the edge of the wharf into the water, so we don’t have to keep packing and unpacking the gear, which can be quite time consuming.”

It looks like something out of a Jules Verne novel, but diving helmets like this one are still usable.

Commercial divers work in a variety of roles, including inspecting, maintaining, and repairing harbour infrastructure, deep water drilling platforms, bridges, and oil and gas pipelines; in shipbuilding and repair; search and rescue;  sea food harvesting and aquaculture; in the Canadian military; in developing countries building infrastructure; in quality control and quality auditing companies; and in non-destructive testing companies.

Most of the programs graduates find employment on the east or west coast of Canada, starting at a rate of pay of $25 to $30 per hour. As they gain more experience, they move into the off-shore industry, where wages are higher.

Only one of the 12 students in this year’s class is from P.E.I., the rest came to the Island to take the program, so the move to Summerside was an inconvenience for many of them. I asked them how they felt about the relocation now. One student is commuting from Charlottetown, and another decided to stay in Vernon Bridge, so he has about an hour and a half drive to get to class; but they all seemed to agree that the move was for the better.

Every year, the Marine Training Centre attracts approximately 1,000 mariners from across the continent to upgrade their skills. The centre offers courses in everything from entry-level positions such as Engine Room Rating and Bridge Watch Rating to Chief Engineer and  Master Mariner. The mariners who train at the centre return many times over the years as they move forward in their careers. The equipment that they train on is state-of-the-art, including a bridge simulator so realistic that people have been known to get seasick when it’s set to emulate rolling seas!

These are the helmets the students use in their training.

“Here at the Marine Training Centre, they’re in an environment that’s much closer to the industry they’ll be working in,” Stephen told me. “The people who come here year round for short courses are pretty much the same people they’ll meet when they are out in the workforce,” he noted.

Written by Sara Underwood

January 25, 2010 at 3:02 pm

One Response

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  1. The dive school had produced some very good divers and Steve White and his fellow instructors should be commended.

    Paul Sullivan
    IMCA bell diving supervisor

    Paul Sullivan

    April 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm

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