Squeaky CNC students get the grease

CNC and precision machining students band together, get program to add more teachers and re-do welding course

When students in CNC precision machining (T173) program returned to George Brown College (GBC) in November after the faculty strike, they were already unhappy with the program. 

Staring down a condensed semester, understaffed classes and noting what they called a “deep frustration” with the program in a Dec. 7 letter to GBC president Anne Sado, the students started to advocate for themselves.  

“We’ve been having problems since the first year with understaffing, that’s the main issue,” said Devreet Minhas, a T173 student. “We were told that there used to be teaching assistants for shop classes like machine and CNC which we did not have.” 

The strike made things worse, but there were deeper issues that needed to be addressed. One was a required welding course that Minhas said was teaching dated techniques that are not used much in the field today.

According to T173 student and former The Dialog reporter-editor Alex Resendes, the students succeeded in getting explicit and subtle changes to the program, including having the option to take the welding course again the winter semester at no extra cost, and generally making faculty and administrators more mindful of student concerns.

“I have no doubt that none of this would have happened in the time frame that it did without making some noise about it and trying to have our concerns heard,” Resendes said.

Resendes added that getting the changes required persistence and making the faculty and administrators of the program understand that the students weren’t going away.  

For Adel Esayed, the dean of GBC’s centre for construction and engineering technologies, one of the reasons that the program couldn’t address the concerns right away was because the T173 students did not use their college emails to lodge their complaints. 

In their letters addressed to GBC president Sado, which were also sent to The Dialog, the students used a generic Gmail account called “T173Students.”

Esayed said that it was the wrong approach to use an anonymous email account and claim to represent all of the students in the program.

But deciding to run the welding course again, hiring more staff to help students operate the machines and extending the hours the shop is open to from three to eight hours every Monday, Esayed is confident that the college has satisfied the students’ concerns.

“I think we resolved the issue and it seems to me that they are really happy with the resolution,” he said.

For CNC student Daniel Rebeldo the changes to the program were too little and too late.  

“We were promised a lot of things and those things didn’t happen,” said Rebeldo. “Bottom line, I made the decision of withdrawing from the program.” 

Rebeldo said he felt that he “wasn’t learning anything properly (the) whole semester,” including how to set up a machine and run it properly. He is now working as a lot attendant at a car dealership, though he hopes to return in September to finish the program.

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Squeaky CNC students get the grease