It is not that often that I have a chance to talk to someone as deeply immersed in the oil world as my learning partner Richard is. Well, even though he came out of the oil industry to pursue a teaching carrier, he is still sincerely connected to the science behind, as well as the practicalities of oil extraction. It was interesting to hear the passion in the voice when he was describing how deeply the oil market was impacted by OPEC countries and how the technology improvements were making shale oil wells fracking a very lucrative business in the States. Even though some of the oil fields in Alberta have dated technology, and the fact that the Alberta Government is imposing the carbon tax, he still thinks that the fields will continue to be economically sustainable and profitable, and will continue to employ the armies of his future students.
Taking the teaching opportunity at the relatively young age, Richard decided to come back to Vancouver and work for BCIT. His viewpoint is that in order to be a good trade teacher one needs to have the firsthand industry experience. His experience should help him in creating, what will become, a future generation of steamfitters / pipefitters. In order to do so in a remarkable way, he decided to take the PIDP courses.
He is currently teaching Foundations Programme and the Steam/Pipefitting fitting class at BCIT. Of course, the challenges that he is facing are substantial. Being new to teaching, he is currently relying on the curriculum developed by other teachers. We agreed that there are some similarities between the “must know” requirements in the food industry and in Steam fitting. Both of these are heavily guided by the codes, rules, standards and regulations. Like me, he is also trying to find a way to make such ‘dry content’ of the codes and regulations as interesting as possible to the adult learners. While he may not be quite there yet in the classroom settings, he is already investigating how to implement the “Flipped classroom” concept in the week of practical training. By doing so, he would be able to facilitate more hands-on learning, as the students would come to the class already prepared and ready to try new techniques.
He is planning to (and I am so confident that he will succeed in it) add some contents that he currently sees missing from the curriculum. He is also working towards participating in the preparation of ITA (Industry Training Association) level exams and Red Seal exams. As he is (at this moment) the second in a line for promotion for steam fitting teaching department, he is planning on expanding his field of expertise to the power engineering.