Portage Collegiate Institute (PCI) has received a $55,000 skills enhancement grant that has supplied the school with two welding booths and a welding system.

Automotive instructor at PCI, Sean Benedictson says that the school applied for a Skill Strategy Enhancement Equipment Fund (SSEEF) grant in 2022 through the province of Manitoba.

Benedictson said his students and PCI’s automotive program says they have likely done more welding since they got the system since the school year began than the last entire five years. He notes that once students have been trained and know how to set up the systems properly, if they want to weld on any given day, they ask and there’s no extra set-up required.

He further explained that Grade 10s at PCI in the automotive program begin welding toward the end of their term while Grade 11s work with the tech consistently throughout the semester.

The SSEEF grant is applied for annually in the province and, if successful, supplies the winning school with things they want for their program that are on their ‘wish list.’ Specifically, the grant is for equipment that enhances any given program of the winning institution’s choice.

“We received two Diversitech Clean Air workstations.” says Benedictson. “They’re a booth that’s lit that has a downdraft in them, allowing kids to weld without any fumes coming at them. So, if they have things like asthma or something like that, they can weld and it’s not going to affect them as much, for sure.”

The funding also purchased them as new multi-process welder, and the wiring for the installation, which was a significant portion of the cost.

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