Just last year, the HET (Heavy Equipment Technologies) program had 1,000 apprentices, which was the program’s peak capacity.
There were huge wait lists and the program was oversubscribed. The demand for the program had never been so high. After a year of waiting for renovations to be complete, the new facilities in a hangar on 109 Street and 119 Avenue will serve as classroom space and will open up opportunities for more students in the future.
“All of the renovations done to the hangar took place all of last year and opened just a week before classes on Aug. 31, 2015,” said Colin Ruthven, chair of the HET department. The old building has more than meets the eye, with its retrofitted interior and clashing rustic exterior.
“With a 40 per cent increase in the program’s population, we weren’t sure that we would have anywhere to put them,” said Ruthven. This year, there are just under 1,400 students taking HET training.
The program used to have four different labs for different stages of the program. But with the enrollment maxed out last year, “the spaces were so packed, we were pushing the safety rules for capacity,” said Ruthven. With the new hangar in place, the HET program can accept more students and reduce the waiting lists.
“We now have the space to meet the demand of the students,” said Ruthven.
After construction was complete, the new hangar consists of two classrooms, two labs and office spaces.
“The students in the third and fourth sections of the program are the ones utilizing the new space,” said Ruthven.
The north hangar is specifically for off-road vehicles, such as bulldozers and excavators. The south hangar, on the other hand, is intended for on-road vehicles. Any vehicle with rubber tires and vehicles meant for highway such as one ton trucks and up, are worked on in the south hangar.
Unlike other programs, the HET program runs for eight weeks. There are hundreds of students moving in and out of the program, which means the hangar couldn’t have come sooner. The facility “opens up space for equipment and now we have the space outside the back of the hangar that we can now test the equipment on and we did not have access to this before,” said Ruthven.
Ruthven speculates that this new space will give a more personalized and hands-on experience for the HET program and Alberta’s workers will be better prepared in the field of heavy equipment technology.