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NLC students ready to “light it up” at Skills Canada

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FORT ST. JOHN – The Skills Canada national competition promises to be an “electric” experience for two students from Northern Lights College.

Robbie McMullin is a Dual Credit student in the Electrical Foundation program at NLC and North Peace Secondary School.

Hayden Stebing is a Level 3 Electrical Apprentice who has completed all his technical training at NLC.

They are also Skills BC champions, sweeping the Electrical Wiring divisions at the provincial competition held at Tradex in Abbotsford, April 9. McMullin won gold in the Secondary Division, while Stebing took top place in the Post-Secondary Division.

And they will represent British Columbia at the national championships in Toronto, June 4-7, with a goal of qualifying to represent Canada at the 2015 World Skills Championships in Brazil.

For McMullin, he believes the key to his provincial gold medal performance was taking a few extra minutes to be sure he understood the instructions, which helped ensure he was able to complete the assigned projects.

“All the instructions were written. The only images were the heights that things were to be set at,” McMullin said. “You had to read and understand, you really needed to take the time to read. Then it really is a speed and time thing. You have to understand what you’re doing, but you also have to get everything done.”

Another key for McMullin was the realization that his NLC program and some pre-event practices had covered all the skills he was being asked to demonstrate.

“I found my program was a big help. Everything we did at the competition I had done here in this Foundation program. It was all stuff that I had gone over prior to the competition, but it was definitely a fast-paced six hours,” said McMullin, who also thanked his employer-sponsor Ace Instruments for their assistance in preparing him for the event.

For Stebing, he was confident entering the provincial competition, finishing with about an hour remaining in the six-hour event.

“I felt prepared going into the provincials. After the first section, I looked around and everyone else was way behind where I was. When I finished with an hour left, I felt confident I was going to win,” said Stebing, who works for Dalco Instruments in Fort St. John.

The biggest surprise for Stebing was the size of the event, which had an overall attendance of about 7,000 participants and visitors. As well, he had to reorganize his project plan while waiting for the judges to make the necessary corrections after he discovered an error in the drawings partway through the competition.

Each division featured a six-hour, one-day competition that required the completion of two projects, one focused on residential skills and the other on commercial. NLC Electrical instructor Robert McAleney, who was also a judge at the provincials, was very impressed with how the projects were simple, yet challenging enough to test most of the electrical disciplines including wire, pipework and technical wiring.

“They were relatively simple labs that tested the theoretical knowledge learned, but with very interesting little twists to see if the students could apply what they had learned,” said McAleney.

McAleney congratulated both Stebing and McMullin on the time and effort they put into weekend practices leading into the provincials. He created projects, based on the scope documents, for each to complete. As well, last year’s Post-Secondary silver medalist, Jacob Elliot, helped out as a mentor, providing some handy competition tips.

Both Stebing and McMullin have started preparing for the Nationals. They have reviewed the tool list and the scope documents, which give a general overview of the skills and abilities on which each competitor will be assessed, and both expect to do some weekend practice sessions.

“The scope documents are similar to what we had for the provincials, but on a bigger scale because it’s a two-day event,” Stebing said. “I’m not going expecting to win, but I’m going wanting to win. The Nationals will be a higher-calibre skill level. I will be super happy if I come in first. Going to Brazil would be sweet.”

“I want to do the same things I did at the provincials. I want to read the documents, understand what I’m doing, and work at a sufficient pace,” said McMullin. “I’m looking forward to the national competition. I would really like to go to World Skills next year in Brazil.”

McAleney is proud of how these student successes reflect positively on NLC’s Electrical program.

“This validation as an instructional team was awesome, to see that we are on the right track. We have the best program in the province. To win two gold medals at the provincial Skills Competition is pretty impressive,“ said McAleney.

For more information on the Electrical program, or any program at NLC, go to