This September, NAIT’s new Crane and Hoisting campus in Spruce Grove opened after a whirlwind of construction. The facility has many benefits over the old Nisku and Souch Campus locations.
All of the classrooms are included at the new campus, whereas before they were split between the Souch Campus and the Nisku
location. The 10 developed acres of the 135 available have improved drainage, better surface conditions in the yard for the cranes to
move around and LED lot lighting. Steven Gaudet, acting academic chair for the Crane and Hoisting Program, explained that there is
much more room for expansion at the Spruce Grove campus. Gaudet noted that land prices were a major draw in selecting Spruce Grove as the new location. NAIT looked at land in the area of the existing main campus, however because of the new Blatchford development, prices were not as attractive as the site selected in Spruce Grove.
The new campus provides four different types of mobile cranes and three boom trucks for students to hone their skills. These will soon be accompanied by three brand new state-of-the-art simulators designed with five multi-view screens giving students a truly hands-on
experience. The simulators will have high spec controls identical to their real life counterparts and can take into account
deflection and other real world conditions.
The program is highly competitive and has a tight student to teacher ratio, giving students a unique experience, properly preparing them for the job market. NAIT’s Crane and Hoisting program is the biggest in Northern Alberta and it is continually looking for new pathways to expose students to employers. Currently they offer a one-year boom truck and three-year mobile crane program.
Journeyman Megan Pacholuk recently graduated from the crane and hoisting program. She described becoming a crane operator as a lifelong passion. Pacholuk’s father is a heavy equipment operator and her brother is also a crane operator. She started with the nursing attendant program at NAIT upon graduating from high school, but NAIT’s reputation as the best technical trainer in Alberta brought her back to attend the crane and hoisting program. She really enjoyed the new campus in Spruce Grove and having everything at one site was a major selling point for her.
There are other benefits as well. The Nisku location had a height restriction because of its proximity to the Edmonton International Airport. The new Spruce Grove location doesn’t face those height restrictions, allowing for additional training opportunities.
The instructors “will do anything for you to make sure you succeed,” Pacholuk said. “If it means coming in at 6:30 to help you with math or staying late to show you something on the machine, they’re there to make you succeed. They want you to pass. It’s not just a job for them, they care about their students,” she said.
– A.J. Shewan, Assistant Issues Editor
Photo via NAIT