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Girls Meet Machines Through Camp

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GUELPH, Ontario, Canada, August 9, 2011—A group of girls are attending a different kind of summer camp this week in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, getting their hands dirty on the precision instruments in Linamar’s Frank Hasenfratz Centre for Excellence.

Girls camp

Fifteen girls are enrolled in the Skills Work! Camp, a weeklong Skills Canada camp aimed at encouraging young people to take a career path in the trades. While learning to shave a fraction of a millimeter off a block of plastic, the girls had an accomplished role model in their midst.

“I’ve fallen in love with machining,” said Grace Damaren, 25, a machinist with Linamar. “I love cutting metal. It seems to me that metal is more like a liquid than a solid, the way it bends to our will when we want to make things out of it. I really enjoy achieving precision parts and the satisfaction of creating things everyday.”

Damaren and her colleagues, Chris Pyke, a machinist and skilled trades coordinator at Linamar, and James Foster, a technical trainer at Linamar, demonstrated the potential machining has for breathtaking precision. They demonstrated some of the basic skills one needs to operate sophisticated instruments and machines.

The instruction was having an impression on the girls, who gawked through their goggles as Pyke shaved just a hair off the plastic block. Then it was the girls’ turn.

“I like machinery,” said Carolina Bootsma, 13, of Cambridge. “If you do something for a long time you can lose your interest in it. I don’t want to lose my interest in machinery.”

She said she is excited to see more females getting into the trades. It’s a field that is full of possibilities.

“You can do so many things with it,” she said. “You can go into mechanics. You can work on cars and make so many parts. If you’re not interested in one thing, you can move to another in the same field.”

Damaren said a woman can fairly easily fit in on the shop floor. Machining is a predominantly male trade, but she said she has been welcomed and respected in the shops were she has trained and worked.

“I’m excited to share with the girls the life lessons I’ve learned, not only about the trade but about finding the right career,” she said.

Shannon Skinner is Skills Canada liaison officer for the Peel and Halton area, and a co-ordinator of Skills Work! Camp. The camps are run throughout the summer in communities across Ontario, and provide students going into grades 7 and 8 with opportunities to explore careers in skilled trades and technologies.

The camps cover all five areas of the skilled trades—service, automotive, construction, industrial and technology. By Grade 8, Skinner said, kids start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. They are open to possibilities and willing to listen.

“As part of our initiatives for our summer camps we are trying to get more young girls involved in the skilled trades and technologies,” Skinner said. “We are trying to open up doors and open up possibilities for them, so that they learn at a young age what is out there.”

Skinner is convinced that some of the girls involved in the Skills Work! Camp at Linamar will choose a career in the trades.

“The kids that come to these camps learn by doing,” she said. “This is an opportunity to take what they enjoy and turn it into a career down the road.

Source: www.guelphmercury.com © Metroland 2011, Metroland Media Group Ltd.

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No. 20111099

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