Congratulations, Eric, for receiving the 2021 Wilden Trades Awards for Sustainable Construction Management Technology.
Eric is a Sustainable Building Technology student at Okanagan College at the Penticton campus, and the deserving recipient of the 2021 Wilden Trades Award. After receiving a thank you letter from Eric we were curious to get to know him a little bit better and are excited to now introduce him to you!
How long is the Sustainable Building Technology program (SBT) and when will you graduate?
The SBT program is a two-year diploma, containing 32 full-time courses. It’s fair to say this is a three year program condensed into two. I will be graduating this Spring, 2022.
What are some of your personal highlights of the SBT program?
As a career oriented student, I found the job shadow opportunities provided by the college to be invaluable. One of the most difficult challenges when switching careers, is gaining meaningful access to professionals in a new industry and to be able to assess different roles. I leveraged these job shadows (often doing twice as many as required by the program) to get to know local companies, compare the real world environment with what I had learned, and to gain both inter-semester and full-time employment post graduation.
You mention a career change in your thank you letter. What did you do for work prior to attending Okanagan College?
My early work life was very reactionary, working a wide variety of jobs including carpentry, web/graphic design, facilities/land management, video production, organic farming, and manufacturing. In the end I found myself at a dead-end, as a jack-of-all-trades with many well developed skills but few credentials or specialized knowledge.
What led you to enrolling in the SBT program?
I enrolled in the program because the COVID pandemic put a sudden stop to my endless cycle of travel plans, forcing my girlfriend and I to return to Canada. While in isolation, we hatched a plan to invest in new careers. I knew at that point that I wanted to pursue something related to construction/architecture, but she was the one who decided on OC Penticton because of the wine/viticulture program and the quality of life offered by the area. That is when I discovered the SBT program which seemed like a perfect fit. We both enrolled and were accepted for that coming fall.
What are your future plans once you’ve graduated?
The Okanagan has been incredibly good to us, and we can’t see going anywhere else for the foreseeable future. We have both secured full-time salary jobs in our area of study and will be getting married here this summer. Our long-term plans may include finding land here to start our own vineyard or working overseas to enhance our knowledge and field experience.
How did the financial support of winning the award help you?
My experience at OC has been incredibly positive and successful. There is no doubt this is attributable to the financial support I have received throughout my studies. I found it tipped the scale from surviving to thriving, providing that vital store of confidence and decisiveness that pushes you to excel. And in the most practical sense it allowed me to invest in industry related certifications while not sacrificing my well-being by overworking in a part-time job.
Do you think it is important that the building/development sector invests into education towards more sustainable building practices and why?
The most important thing I have learned from this program is that sustainable thinking sees every problem as an opportunity to improve people’s lives. Anyone can buy a new technology or follow a new prescriptive building method. But knowing how to properly tune and apply the right technologies and the right methods to solve a unique problem requires professionals with well-developed skills and knowledge; people who are well versed in the nuance and concepts of sustainable problem solving, and are ready to facilitate constructive conversations that ask “why are we doing what we do?” and “how can we do better?” I found the SBT program did exactly that for me, and I am excited to learn from the past generations of construction managers and to work with them to shape the industry moving forward.