Thompson Rivers University

Trades students build up successes

April 26, 2024

Some of the Skills Canada banners that can be found in the trades building. These can be found in the main lobby by the stairs leading to the second floor.

Six Thompson Rivers University (TRU) students celebrated on the podium at the Skills Canada BC competition on April 17, bringing home one bronze and five gold medals in their respective trades.

Left to right: welding instructor John Sutton with welding gold medal winners Alexis Nelson (secondary) and Cole Allan (post-secondary) and welding instructor Larry Franzen.

Medal winners Giovanna Caputo, Alexis Nelson, Matthew Lavigne, Cody Rempel, Cole Allan and Wyatt Daniel O’Brien were among 19 students representing the School of Trades and Technology in automotive, carpentry, culinary arts, electrical, heavy duty mechanics, plumbing and welding.

TRU medal winners, secondary level:

  • Carpentry Gold – Giovanna Caputo, Carpentry Foundation Program
  • Welding Gold – Alexis Nelson, Welding Foundation Program

TRU medal winners, post-secondary level:

  • Carpentry Gold – Matthew Lavigne, Carpentry Foundation Program
  • Heavy Vehicle Gold – Cody Rempel, Heavy Duty Equipment Technician Program
  • Welding Gold – Cole Allan, Welding Level B Program
  • Refrigeration Bronze – Wyatt Daniel O’Brien, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics Foundation Program

Carpentry instructor Greg Alm said Caputo and Lavigne demonstrated tremendous passion for their trade from day one. Caputo, who won gold at the secondary level as a Grade 12 Youth Train in Trades student, benefited from hands-on experience building the Y Training House during her 30-week program at TRU.

“I believe that this experience is an asset and definitely has its advantages in excelling in the Skills competition,” Alm said.

To sharpen their skills for provincials, the students also spent several hours of extra time each week working with their instructors. Accuracy and time-management are key in competition.

Left to right: carpentry gold medal winners Matthew Lavinge (post-secondary) and Giovanna Caputo (secondary) with carpentry instructor Greg Alm.

“After Matt and Gio won gold at the regionals, which was held six weeks prior to provincials, we talked about the next steps, and formulated a practice plan which dedicated time a few days a week in the shop at TRU. This was after a full day of work or school,” Alm added.

Welding instructor Larry Franzen said the competition for best in the province is high. “We spend a lot of one-on-one time with our students pushing them hard to be the best. Hard work and dedication are what it takes to win.”

Franzen is impressed by Nelson and Allan’s drive and willingness to put in the time. And there’s no time to rest on their laurels. Winning provincial gold means the chance to compete at the 2024 Skills Canada National Competition from May 29 to June 1.

All five of TRU’s gold medalists will represent Team BC at the nationals in Quebec City, where more than 500 students and apprentices from across the country compete in over 40 trades. The pressure is on for the few weeks of practice left before students and instructors head to Quebec.

“To win gold at the next level takes passion, skill and dedication,” Alm said. The competitors are honing their skills and fuelling that drive in the weeks to come in hopes of being the best in Canada.

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