Vanessa Sheane, NWP president, speaks to media after Minister of Advance Education Rajan Sawhney announced $11.3 million for new power engineering and instrumentation labs at Northwestern Polytechnic in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. The funding will add about 60 seats while also expanding the instrumentation apprenticeship program and create an instrumentation technologist diploma program. (Photo by Jesse Boily)Jesse Boily

An additional 60 seats will be added to the power engineering programs at Northwestern Polytechnic (NWP) with an $11.3 million upgrade from the province. 

It is expected the power engineering and instrumentation labs at NWP will expand the school’s current offerings by 2026. 

“There’s a high demand for the expertise of skilled tradespeople,” said Minister of Advance Education Rajan Sawhney. 

She said demand for power engineers and instrumentation technicians is rising in northwestern Alberta due to the hydrogen and ammonia processing plants in the Greenview Industrial Gateway and County of Grande Prairie. 

The minister said that the expansion of the labs will include upgraded and modern equipment for third- and fourth-class engineering training and instrumentation. 

Dr. Vanessa Sheane, NWP president and CEO, said the instrumentation apprenticeship program will be expanded so that students can complete their apprenticeship program locally. She said the school will create an instrumentation engineering technologist program so students have the option to do a diploma program instead of an apprenticeship.

“It really expands our offerings, adds to it, and encourages more students to stay here,” said Sheane.

The new labs will be located in the M wing of the Grande Prairie campus, where Shaene says the spaces currently have low utilization.

She noted that NWP will continue to partner with Spartan Controls, which offers learning labs for second-period instrumentation apprentices. 

The announcement is unsurprising as it was a line item on the provincial budget in February last year.  

“This is an exciting time for the region marked by continuous economic development growth in pivotal sectors such as industry, energy, forestry, mining and agriculture; as these industries grow and evolve, the demand for larger highly skilled workforces becomes evident,” said Tyler Olsen, MD of Greenview reeve.

He said expanding the programs is crucial in ensuring new workers entering “the workforce are equipped to handle the latest technologies and contribute to innovation.”

“This is a unique chance to build a lifelong career with the same organization and opportunity to grow to receive advanced education, secure a well-paying job and retire without ever leaving the Grande Prairie region.”

Sawhney said the Grande Prairie area is an important region in terms of economic development. 

She noted the province tagged $1 million to look into a rural physician program, which is well underway. Sawhney said her office is keeping a close eye on it, but could not share more details. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 01, 2024 at 10:22

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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