Trades on, bridges off

Hundreds of elementary school students packed Kelowna's Okanagan College campus Friday to explore the world of trades and test out their spaghetti bridges – but, unfortunately, only one of those things happened.

The annual spaghetti bridge building competition has been going on for decades at the college, and the "Fettuccine Fault Line," a hydraulic system that applies force to the bridges, has been used for the past nine years.

On Friday, it malfunctioned, forcing the competition to be postponed, possibly to next weekend.

“It’s important for the students to know their hard work is taken seriously, so we must ensure their bridges are tested accurately using the proper equipment," said head judge Dr. Andrew Hay.

There were plenty of other things going on at the college though, as hundreds of young students tried their hand at a variety of trades, while those in Grade 12 and older competed at the SkillsBC regional trades and technologies competition.

Stations were set up where young kids used drills, tried automotive painting, learned about internal combustion engines and welding.

“Bringing them in now gives them a little taste of what it's like to be a tradesperson down the road,” said Diane Holm of Okanagan College. “Anything to give them an insight into the variety of careers that are out there.”

The SkillsBC competition pits students in Grade 12 and post-secondary school against each other in a variety of trades, including carpentry, automotive, sheet metal, aerospace, cabinet making and welding.

Winners in Friday's regional competition will go on to the provincials in April, and possibly onto the nationals in Winnipeg in June.

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