At one time the profile of a typical post-secondary student was that of an 18 to 20-year-old individual transitioning from high school directly into college. Today Loyalist’s classrooms are filled with students ranging in age from 17 to 70 – some preparing for their first career, some updating their skills for advancement purposes, and others upgrading to re-enter the workforce.
College is exciting and challenging – and for some the challenge entails a major change in direction. Dustin Liebau was one of those. At the age of 28, his life was very full – two children, two stepchildren, and a résumé which included a long list of jobs but no high school diploma. In May of 2009 Dustin was laid off from his position at a local call centre. He decided it was time for a change and enrolled in Loyalist’s Manufacturing Engineering Technician program with the financial support of the Ontario government’s Second Career program. Dustin describes this as a great decision. He graduated in June of 2011 and began his new career as a Material Coordinator with Continental Conveyor in Napanee.
“But then life changed again,” Dustin said. “We found out that we had another baby on the way and, although Continental Conveyor was a great place to work, the long commute made me decide that it was time for me to move forward to something closer to home. Norampac in Trenton gave me the chance to start at the bottom – literally. If you go down into the basement, lift up the drain grating and climb down another two and a half feet, you will find yourself where I started in the mill. I was not a permanent employee, but there was enough overtime that I was able to pay the bills and that’s what I did for three months. I took advantage of that time to learn everything that I possibly could about the mill – its systems, machines and the process as a whole. At every possible opportunity I let human resources know that I was seeking a more technical role in the mill.”
Then it happened. Dustin is now the Maintenance Planner at Norampac, “Every morning we meet to decide how to deal with any equipment repairs needed. I find out if the equipment in question can be taken off line – if not, I will include it as part of our monthly maintenance shut down. Next I help determine what is needed in the way of materials, parts, equipment rentals, special tools, tradesmen and the amount of time they will need to complete the job. I add this information to the work order, order the parts and hire any special contractors – such as confined space rescue teams – that are required.
“I’m also going to be leading up a new reliability engineering-based maintenance planning program. We’re trying to become more proactive as opposed to reactive. We’re going to analyze our equipment and our processes following a failure – then combine that information with our historical data to try and predict when problems might occur.
“Everything I learned at Loyalist applies to this job. The program took me way outside my comfort zone and I learned….gasp….that I’m actually smart. The professors pushed us hard and taught us how to learn and think outside the box. I’m so glad that this is the decision I made.”
For information about the career-oriented programs offered at Loyalist College’s School of Skills Training click here.