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New diploma program will prepare construction professionals for 21st century opportunities
Okanagan College Media Release

A new three-year diploma program designed to educate and train students for the challenges and opportunities of construction management in the 21st century will launch this September at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus.

The Sustainable Construction Management Technology (SCMT) program will be offered within the walls of the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation, a living laboratory and one of the world’s most sustainable buildings. Taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies within a world-class facility, students will benefit from small class sizes and one-of-a-kind curriculum that has been developed to prepare graduates with the skills, vision and perspective to deliver large-scale construction infrastructure.

“The SCMT program has been in development for several years,” said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “The hands-on experiential learning opportunities afforded by the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence are a huge draw for prospective students. Whether those interested in the program are relatively new to the field, or seasoned project managers, SCMT brings together three vital components of the emerging green building industry. At every point throughout the program elements of sustainability are intertwined with the pillars of construction techniques, project management, and emerging technologies. It is a combination that isn’t delivered anywhere else and it is going to be a very exciting and unique program.”

Years of program research and curriculum development has included extensive consultation with industry professionals. Gord Lindsay, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of North America Construction Ltd., is one of the early advocates and proponents for the program.

“This is welcome news. I have been encouraging Okanagan College to develop this program because there is a very real need for people with these skills and knowledge in our industry,” says Lindsay, whose company has grown to employ more than 900 tradespeople since its inception in the 1990s. “We deal in large scale municipal and civil projects, as well as heavy industrial projects. Our company – and our clients – will be eager for the graduates of this program.”

Patrick Waunch, owner of Rambow Mechanical and the past chair of the British Columbia Construction Association, is another of the local resources Okanagan College tapped into while developing the program.

“This is a really exciting time for the construction industry in general,” said Waunch. “The launch of the SCMT program at Okanagan College is going to open the door to a new kind of education and training for construction professionals. As someone working on the front lines of the industry, I can say there is a real need for this kind of program and for the kind of graduates it will produce.”

Trevor Butler has invested time and efforts honing the curriculum for the program. He has an extensive background in green building and design and is the founder of Archineers, an organization that seeks to bridge the gap between architecture and engineering with a focus on sustainability. Butler is a sustainability design consultant and has earned several awards for his work in Europe including the Mile End Park, winner of London First’s Sustainable Project of the Millennium. He says the new program will deliver a practical approach to the challenges of the construction industry.

“Today’s construction professional requires it all,” said Butler, who is the College’s lead faculty member for the program. “Competency in construction techniques, project management, and the ability to adapt to new and emerging technologies. They also need the vision and perspective to meet the sustainability requirements of the 21st century. The program at Okanagan College will provide the skills to be successful in each of these areas.”

Nara Lee Straw has been waiting patiently for the new program to launch. The Vernon resident has already applied for the September intake. In March, he toured the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Penticton and his interest in the program was only enhanced by the experience.

“I’ve been waiting for this for two years,” said Straw. “This is the best news I’ve had all year.”

Straw’s interest in sustainability and construction was born out of an upbringing that exposed him to wind- and solar-power, and the use of recycled materials. As he travelled the world in his later years, he realized that he had an interest in building, and specifically, using different materials and the principles of sustainable architecture.

“I have been looking for a program with these elements for some time, but this one really fits the bill,” he said.

The program also includes a co-op work term for students who are interested in gaining additional work experience during the program. Financial aid and bursaries are also available for those who qualify.

Okanagan College is accepting applications for the program. An information night is being scheduled for Tuesday, April 30 at 4 p.m. at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College. The information session will also be webcast for anyone who is unable to attend in person: klo-media-1.okanagan.bc.ca. For more information about the Sustainable Construction Management Technology program, go online: www.okanagan.bc.ca/scmt.

Okanagan College acknowledges the financial contribution made to the program's curriculum development by the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia through its grants program which supports non-profit projects that fit its mandate and funding criteria. The Real Estate Foundation of BC supports sustainable real estate and land use practices for the benefit of British Columbians.