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Archive for the ‘Campus Development Projects’ Category

Raymond Loo Memorial Garden gives Holland College students and staff a place to learn and reflect

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A barren patch of land on Holland College’s Prince of Wales Campus has been turned into an organic garden and Plein air classroom where students and staff can rediscover the therapeutic benefits of nature and take applied learning to a whole new level.

The Raymond Loo Memorial Garden is named after one of the most prominent organic farmers in Prince Edward Island. For more than 10 years, Mr. Loo welcomed students from Holland College’s Transitions program, a career exploration program for high school students, to his farm to learn more about organic farming. When Mr. Loo died of cancer two years ago, Transitions staff wanted to pay tribute to his work and vision for P.E.I. youth by providing students with an outdoor classroom where they could learn about sustainability firsthand by designing, building, planting, maintaining and harvesting an on-campus organic garden.

“Our overall goal is to remember Raymond by carrying on what he started – encouraging students to think about where their food comes from, getting them out in nature and learning what it takes to build and maintain a garden,” said Joan Diamond, Transitions coordinator for the college. “The students’ participation in these activities confirmed our hunch that students really do enjoy learning in nature, despite the fact that they don’t often get the opportunity. Even the students who started out thinking it was ‘lame’, said that they had learned a lot and felt a real sense of contributing in a meaningful way to the community.”

As the project evolved over the spring and summer months, the Transitions team realized that the garden was having a noticeable effect on the campus community as a whole. Students and staff began eating their lunches there, and the college’s youngest students, the children in the college’s Early Learning Centre, began visiting it, too.

The Transitions staff worked with instructors in the Early Learning Centre to facilitate experiential learning with the students in the garden.  Joan Diamond went into the class to talk about sustainability and the importance of knowing where one’s food comes from, and the youngsters planted seedlings indoors to transplant to the garden later.  The children had three planting beds, and the excitement was palpable as they watched their seeds grow. Eventually, they were able harvest and eat them.  They continue to enjoy their afternoon visits to what they refer to as “The Secret Garden”, where they can pick and eat strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

As the campus community began to use the garden more, Diamond noticed a growing trend of instructors taking their classes out to the garden, and the Transitions team decided to create an outdoor learning space complete with seating, stage and podium.

This garden presents endless opportunities to educate and model environmental stewardship. One garden bed is filled with plants that attract the endangered Monarch butterfly.  This year, the Holland College library partnered with the Bedeque Bay Environmental Management team to facilitate a Monarch butterfly release in the garden.  It was a huge success.  Diamond believes that the best way to encourage a sustainable campus is by creating a sustainable culture through engaging students and staff in activities such as these.

“We want to change the way students think about food and nature, and hope to create and maintain a creative space on each of our main campuses that will allow us to continue this work as part of our Transitions environmental rotation, thus enhancing our program content and at the same time enhancing the experience for all students at each of the campuses,” she said.

The Raymond Loo Memorial Garden was created with assistance from the college’s President’s Innovation Fund.

Culinary instructor and students establish garden on the grounds of the TCC

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In a world where technology advances exponentially and the pace of our everyday lives leaves us breathless, 10 students of Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada are stepping away from their laptops and cell phones to stop and smell the roses…and the tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and herbs!

Culinary students Chris (in the foreground), Amy Fox, and Jared with Jack in the garden at the TCC. You can see the Three Sisters formation in the background, and behind the trees, you can see the harbour.

Under the guidance of Culinary Arts instructor Jack Wheeler, the students have taken over a strip of land beside the parking lot at the Tourism and Culinary Centre on the Charlottetown waterfront and planted an organic garden.

Jack wanted to integrate the notion of using local food into the curriculum and encourage the students to think more about the ingredients they were using. The fruits of their labours will be used in the kitchens at the CIC, adding a little extra cachet to the already impressive meals the students prepare for the Lucy Maud Dining Room and the Montgomery Cafeteria.

“It’s an outdoor classroom, especially in the summer,” he explains. “It’s also a way to remind students about their social responsibility as chefs.”

In addition to tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and a variety of herbs, the garden features beans, squash and companion plants that will repel pests and attract pollinators. No stranger to gardening, Jack showed the students how to build a structure called Three Sisters, a traditional Native American structure that usually includes corn, beans and squash. The corn stalks form natural poles for the bean vines, which stabilize the corn plants and enrich the soil with nitrogen, while the squash form mulch to discourage pests and weeds. In this garden, there are three tall wooden poles in place of the corn.

Working on the garden gives the students time to reflect on the way they prepare food.

Jack says that although some of the garden is trial and error, it has also given the students an opportunity to discuss their ideas about sustainable food systems and ways to integrate this into their work. It’s as though the physical act of digging and weeding and planting gives students the opportunity to focus on the concept of food on an entirely different level.

Jared Ritz, a first year Culinary Arts student, is passionate about the project. His high school in Ontario had a garden, and he’s applying the knowledge he learned there.

“Every school should have a garden,” he insists. He shows me the herb patch, which has been planted amidst a group of large rocks. “The heat from the rocks will help keep the plants warm, it’s like it has its own micro-climate,” he says.

Chris Sallie, a second year Culinary Arts student, joins us in the garden to do some weeding. He’s enjoying the project, and believes that using these home-grown ingredients will make students think more carefully about what they are doing. As Jared gathers some radish leaves to take back to the kitchen, Chris points out an interesting offshoot of the garden project.

“You respect your food a lot more, and you’re less likely to let it go to waste or do something silly with it if you’ve grown it yourself,” he says.

Marigolds help keep pests away from the vegetables.

There’s a seniors’ home next to the Tourism and Culinary Centre. In the past, there’s been little interaction between the residents of Park West Lodge and students at the TCC. That’s changing. Over the last few weeks, seniors are coming to sit in the shade at a picnic table next to the garden, watching the students as they work. Jack sees the potential for the garden to help students connect with the community. Many of the plants in the garden have been donated, and he’s hoping that as people in the area become more aware of the work the students are doing, they will receive more donations.

“We would like to have some fruit trees and more ornamental plants as well. I see this as a long term project. This is only a starting point,” Jack tells me.

This living classroom will continue to provide the students with lessons well into the fall. When the tomato crop is ready, for example, they will be harvesting the (potentially) 300lb crop and learning how to preserve it.

There is something fundamental to our well-being about connecting with nature. For many of us, adapting to technology and integrating it into our lives and workplaces have stretched the strands of that connection to breaking point. These students belong to the generation of digital natives, born into a world of Internet and e-mail, of MP3s and downloadable apps; but it’s also a world where people are becoming increasingly concerned about the source of their food and the sustainability of supplies. Hopefully these young people will be able to maintain and renew their relationship with the planet…even if it is one plant at a time!

I plan to visit the garden over the next few months, and I’ll post new pictures as the summer progresses.

Written by Sara Underwood

June 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm

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

Holland College graduate project manager for Prince of Wales Campus construction

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Demolition of houses on Grafton LaneDemolition of the buildings on Grafton Lane started recently, signalling the beginning of the multi-year Prince of Wales Campus redesign and construction project. The project will see the construction of two new buildings; an expansion of Glendenning Hall, the college’s residence; and extensive renovations in the Charlottetown Centre. It’s an enormous project – the biggest of its kind in the college’s 40-year history, and, given the scope of the endeavour, it’s likely to provide work for many Holland College graduates, starting with one of the project managers, Greg Roach.
Greg Roach

Roach, 26, had his first Holland College experience in the Adult Education division after he found out that he could not follow his father’s footsteps into the RCMP due to his eyesight.

“I had the option of corrective vision surgery, but that wasn’t something I was too interested in undergoing. I wasn’t really sure on what I wanted to do for post-secondary education, so I decided to stay in school mode while sort of taking a year off, and I went to upgrade my Grade 12 Math and English credits before applying to a science program at university,” he recalls.

One evening, the instructor suggested that the students attend the college’s open house, which was taking place in the Charlottetown Centre across the street. It was there that Roach’s interest in construction, formed in his early childhood when Lego sets literally provided the building blocks for his education, rekindled.

“I found myself in the Engineering and Applied Science section of the gymnasium talking to Terry McKenna, the learning manager for Construction Technology. Talking with Terry, I remembered all my past experiences in drafting and design technology in high school, and also building Lego houses and scale model houses I made of Popsicle sticks,” he says.

As a result of talking to McKenna, Roach applied to the college.

“In the fall of 2003 I was accepted to the Construction Technology program. The program was a fantastic ‘foundation’ — pardon the pun — to the start of my career. The student to instructor ratio was great, it was easy to ask questions and get the attention needed. The program was set up in such a way that it was all related to industry, and it was all around us. We weren’t searching for ‘X’ or numbers that didn’t exist, it was there in plain English. We were applying real standards and studying real world applications. The field experience during the course and the on-the-job training really gave me the feeling that, come graduation, I would have the skills required by employers.”

The summer after his graduation, Roach worked at a local truss manufacturing company. But by the fall, he decided that he would like to continue his training at Holland College to pursue his interest in drafting and design, something he had learned in high school but never really used until he enrolled in the Construction Technology program, which has several drafting assignments in the curriculum. Roach enrolled for the Architectural Technology program in the fall of 2005.

By the time he graduated two years later, the combination of his two diplomas, Construction Technology and Architectural Technology, gave him a strong underpinning of knowledge and hands-on experience.

“With the Architectural program, I really had a solid grasp of the design process and how everything went together in the starting phases before a shovel ever hits the ground in a construction project.” This augmented the Construction Technology program, which is designed to give students a basic understanding of the overall building construction industry, enabling them to work in administrative and middle management jobs.

In 2007, five months after graduation, he was offered a position with N46 Architecture as an Architectural Technologist.

“In that role, I prepared drawings for projects that ranged from houses to large scale commercial buildings. We also looked after the project management for our projects,” he explains.

Centre for Applied Science and TechnologyWhen N46 was selected as the architectural team to work on the college’s new Centre for Applied Science and Technology building, part of the Prince of Wales Campus project, the company’s owner, architect David Lopes, asked Roach to take on the role of project manager for the duration of the construction.

“Being a Holland College alumnus, the opportunity to come back and work with instructors and staff I knew was exciting. It’s a very historical time for Holland College, and this is a chance to be a part of that,” he says.

Students currently enrolled in Holland College’s Environmental Applied Science Technology, Construction Technology and Architectural Technology programs will be able to see the evolution of a multi-million dollar project for themselves over the next two years as the college begins transforming its properties on Weymouth and Kent streets into the newly-named Prince of Wales Campus.

Roach says the construction of the Centre for Applied Science and Technology will give students a unique opportunity to observe the development of an environmentally innovative building.
“The technologies that are being incorporated in this new facility are rarely implemented all at same time, so it’s a great opportunity to educate everyone. The technology that we’ll be using significantly changes how buildings are designed and their effect on the environment. Some of the key features include a geothermal system that will meet between 70 and 90 per cent of the building’s heating and cooling requirements; greywater collection, where rainwater from the roof run-off is treated and used to flush toilets and to water gardens; solar panels; and high efficiency lighting systems. At the end of the day, the goal is that this building will be a ‘living lab’ — a building where students can see the technologies they read about and research in action,” he explains.

As Roach reflects on his time as a student at the college, he recalls how much he enjoyed the learning environment.

“It was the way they related the daily routine to the work place. You weren’t being instructed all the time, you could work at your own pace. There were scheduled classes and courses, but during times where you weren’t in class, you could really buckle down and focus on something that you needed to get done. You also had access to instructors easily, and they were always there to listen and would take the time to explain things to you, to ensure that you got your questions answered.

“If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would. I enjoyed every minute I spent at the college, and being here during this development of the campus–it’s just like being back home.”

Written by Sara Underwood

October 6, 2009 at 4:58 pm