Updated: Corner Brook college getting $4.3 million to improve power engineering program

Gary Kean gkean@thewesternstar.com
Published on November 8, 2016

There were probably a couple of hundred people gathered in the College of the North Atlantic’s main foyer to listen to a major announcement for the school Tuesday morning.

But none were more excited than the small group from the power engineering program huddled together near the podium.

They were there to hear details of a joint $4.3-million funding effort by the provincial and federal governments to enhance and expand the power engineering program at the Corner Brook campus.

The plan is to create a Centre for Energy and Thermal Systems, encompassing a suite of activities in education and training. Current programming related to energy and thermal systems will be enhanced and new programming will be introduced in engineering technology, the industrial trades and advanced studies.

The educational component will include lifelong learning opportunities for graduates of the program as they pursue careers in their field.

The physical upgrades at the campus will include the latest equipment for training power engineers being set up in roughly 6,000 square feet of space in the power engineering lab.

For students like Bryce Mulley of Little Rapids, currently enrolled in the power engineering fourth class program, it will be an opportunity to stay closer to home to move on to become a third-class power engineer, a course which could be offered as early as September 2017. Currently, his options to further his education in the field would be through correspondence or on the mainland in perhaps Halifax or Alberta.

“Now, I don’t have to leave,” said Mulley.

Classmate Justin Stagg of Catalina, was also excited about the prospect of progressing up the trade’s proverbial ladder without moving away first.

“It’s good because I can hopefully come back next year and do my third class,” he said. “There are more job opportunities and bigger pay with that."

The $4.3 million includes more than $2.1 million from the federal Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, with the remaining funds matched by the provincial government.

Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Gerry Byrne said Tuesday’s announcement is just the start. The plan, which will include developing more diplomas and training courses in the various disciplines within the power engineering field, is to put Corner Brook on the world map when it comes to innovative training for thermal energy technology.

“Very firmly, very deliberately and for all the right reasons, we’re positioning western Newfoundland and Corner Brook to become the hub of the next generation of energy projects in alternate and renewable and thermal energy systems,” Byrne said.

Byrne made the announcement along with Long Range Mountains MHA Gudie Hutchings, who called the federal program that funded this initiative a once-in-a-generation investment.

They were joined by Robin Walters, the College of the North Atlantic’s vice-president of industry and community engagement. Walters said the Corner Brook campus is ideal for establishing this centre and this funding will enable key campus improvements, and will increase the focus on program enhancement and expansion for years.

Project highlights

Facility refurbishment as part of developing the Centre for Energy and Thermal Systems will include:

— Fully operational digitally controlled steam power plant that incorporates most innovative technologies available for reducing fuel consumption, minimizing emissions and maximizing energy recovery.

— Operation of the steam power plant will be carried out through a process control room equipped with the same software-based graphical user interface typically used in industry to support digital process control systems.

— The steam power plant will be complemented by a fully functioning HVAC system with supporting refrigeration systems that incorporate the latest direct digital control systems.

— The centre will include a computer lab that can accommodate up to 24 students, equipped with process control simulation software for various industrial sectors, including refining, pulp and paper production, hydroelectric power generation and control.

— The centre’s infrastructure will be housed in roughly 6,000 square feet of space.

— Money from the federal Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund must be spent by March 31, 2018.

Source: Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Gerry Byrne