Thompson Rivers University

Donation makes glass pipe dream a reality

November 23, 2022

Representatives from Andrew Sheret Ltd. Chris Eugster, regional manager (on left holding cheque), and Kamloops branch manager Mike Penner present a cheque for $115,000 to Associate Professor Paul Simpson (on right holding cheque) alongside students, faculty and employees.
Water moving through glass pipes

Glass piping allows students to see inside a multi-pipe system.

Plumbing — it’s not just about toilets. And once you’ve had a chance to see TRU’s Andrew Sheret Plumbing Lab in action, you might even describe it as a thing of beauty.

Lab visionary and Associate Professor Paul Simpson aspired to design a piping lab at TRU for years, but without funding, his plans were no more than pipe dreams. That is until Andrew Sheret Ltd. stepped up with a $100,000 donation to upgrade the facility.

In addition, Andrew Sheret also established the Andrew Sheret Limited Plumbing Award, a $1,500 annual award set to support piping students for the next 10 years.

“We enjoy investing in the future and the trades are where it’s at these days,” said Chris Eugster, Andrew Sheret regional manager. “(Experiential learning) creates curiosity and curiosity is how you learn. If you’re not invested and interested in it, you’re never going to learn.”

With a network of glass pipes overhead and the water moving through them in a carefully choreographed dance, students can see exactly what is happening in the pipes and create plumbing simulations to aid understanding and facilitate learning.

“I dreamed about something like this for a long time,” said Simpson. “The new glass lab benefits students by allowing them to be immersed in an actual working drainage system. . . . We use the lab to introduce experiential learning practices where students can ask questions based on textbooks and experiment with the lab to see a new outcome. This is a big change from traditional trades training.”

Lab described as legacy project for students

(Left) Jared Emery and Shane Wonnacott

(Left) Jared Emery, Shane Wonnacott and Robbie Case (not pictured) completed TRU’s plumbing program and helped design and build the new glass lab.

TRU alum and newly Red Seal certified plumber Shane Wonnacott heard Simpson talk about his plans for the lab often during his time at TRU, so when Simpson told his students they had finally secured funding, Wonnacott asked to be involved. Two other students, Jared Emery and Robbie Case, joined in to design and build the lab. Together with Simpson and TRU’s Facilities department, they took the original plans for upgrades and turned them into even more.

“It was almost like a legacy project for us. To actually renovate and add on to the school — it was pretty interesting,” said Wonnacott, adding that when potential students tour the facilities, viewing all of the moving parts will definitely be a draw for the program. “They can go up and see that there’s a lot more to it than just unplugging a drain.”

School of Trades and Technology Dean Baldev Pooni said the lab is the only one of its kind in BC and far beyond, simulating the piping system of a multi-unit dwelling so students can see a live demo of water flowing through a multi-pipe system.

“We are very thankful to Andrew Sheret for the generous contribution, which will serve the learning of apprentices throughout BC,” said Pooni.



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