Electrical students from Camosun College got an industry eye-opener March 8 when they visited Fleet Maintenance Facility (FMF) two weeks ago.
A group of 24 second and third year electrical apprentices observed maintenance work at one of the largest industrial centres in Victoria – HMC Dockyard.
The group was accompanied by their instructors Dan Daigle and John Bain, both former DND employees; Daigle with Base Construction Engineering (BCE) and Bain with FMF.
“Victoria is not a very industrial town, so a lot of the things they see here at the base are unique,” said Daigle. “They see equipment we don’t have in other parts of Victoria, such as pumps built in the 1800s and the submarine batteries. They get an idea there is a lot more to the trade than just wiring a house.”
The most impressive on the list of places visited were building D250, the corrosive fluid facility, weapons facility, the main electrical distribution control centre for Dockyard, the pump house and the first aid cell.
“We teach them a lot of theory in class, but to see the equipment on the base and understand how it all fits together is extremely valuable,” said Bain.
The glue that binds the myriad of work is management, and this did not go unnoticed by third year student Jocelyn Burton.
“I was most impressed by the management on the base, and how everyone has a type of speciality and how it all comes together to achieve the overall goal,” she said.
Student James McLaughlin, who works as an electrician in Port Hardy, found the 480,000 pounds of submarine batteries the most notable site of the tour.
There were a lot of “ohs” and “ahs” as the group gazed upon the rows and rows of battery cells.
“What I saw here showed me [electrician work] on a much larger scale. I can’t imagine how they built some of this stuff with 1,200 amp breakers and huge generators. It’s really quite fascinating,” said McLaughlin.
The tour was organized and chaperoned by Mike Smith and Rick Deguire, electricians with the BCE Electrical Shop.
“It was great synergy to introduce those in training with the real life work of Dockyard. As the work force ages out, visits such as this become even more valuable as a means to entice students to backfill the exodus,” said Smith. “I was especially impressed with the way each department we visited pulled together and hosted presentations for the students.”
“Special thanks to Rob Harman, Shop 162A Supervisor, FMF Electrical Supervisor Al Hall and Construction Safety Officer Sandra Goth of Stuart Olson for helping to make this field trip a success,” he added.
-Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer
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