Fix Network Training Centre Hosts Young Women in Trades and Technologies

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Seven high school students with no autobody experience participate in a panel painting challenge at the Fix Network Training Centre in Calgary, on April 27. Photo Fix Network

On April 27, Fix Network’s Training Centre in Calgary, Alta., hosted Young Women in Trades and Technologies (YWITT) Day.

Led by Jeff Francis, Fix Network Technical Trainer for Western Canada, the event began at 9 a.m. and featured engaging activities and insightful presentations.

Seven high school students, with no prior experience in autobody work, participated in a panel painting project. The students learned about painting gear and suits, prepped panels, applied tack and spray sealer/basecoat, airbrushed with stencils, and applied clear coat.

Speakers included Lauren Reynolds, Crystin Bulai, and Cecile Bukmeier, who shared their inspiring stories and insights.

“If this is the career that you so desire, surround yourself with people that see something in you and that will lift you up, answer your questions and take you to that next level that you want to go to,” said Crystin Bulai, Regional Operations Manager for Luxuria Auto Group (which includes Fix Auto Calgary Northwest, Fix Auto Calgary Centre, ProColor Collision Calgary North East, Fix Auto Saskatoon East, Fix Auto Calgary South Central, Fix Auto Calgary Pegasus). “All it takes is one question, one person to give you that time of day for you to then take it to that next level. My story will be different than all of yours. Your reason, your ‘why’ will be hugely different, but just know there’s a whole team of people in the trades that are now looking at women as strong individuals that are participating in every aspect of it.”

Cecile Bukmeier, Chair of the Auto Body program at NAIT added, “[The first time I was given the opportunity to work on a car] I totally screwed it up… But my boss said, ‘This is where you’re starting, and it’s only uphill from here.’ I’m really thankful that somebody gave me that shot.”

Industry professionals leant their support and expertise to help the students. Here the entire team poses for a group photo at the Fix Network Training Centre. Photo Fix Network

Guidance and gifts

At the event, supplier partners Rob Bearchell & Mel Cole from Axalta Coating Systems generously offered their time and resources, providing invaluable guidance in the paint booth and supplying paint suits and materials as well as several gifts.

Donny Hall from SATA provided numerous gifts, including custom paint suits and paint masks.

Rob Bois from NAPA CMAX brought in a 1954 Chevy Truck for the students, where they even wrote and performed an original rap together.

Rob Bois, from NAPA CMAX brought this 1954 Chevy 3100 pickup for the students to sample. Photo Fix Network

Ongoing project

The project continued on Saturday, May 4th, where the students completed the project with detailing, including polishing and vehicle detailing, and learned about various products. Marc Bonneau from 3M Automotive Aftermarket was in attendance with Rob Bois returning as well.

This event showcased the importance of empowering young women to explore diverse career paths and provided them with invaluable hands-on experience and mentorship in the trades and technologies industry.

What they had to say

Feedback from the participants during the event was highly encouraging. Here are a few remarks about what they discovered:

“Today’s experience challenged my preconceptions about trades and technology careers. Hearing Cecile’s presentation and reflecting on my own experience as a female where I felt out of place during an interview made me realize the importance of having someone believe in and support you, regardless of how you begin your journey, even if it starts with tasks like sweeping.” – Karly, 15.

“I didn’t really think trades and technology were interesting, but today in learning about autobody technicians, they mentioned the aspect of painting and stencils, and the opportunity to add your own creativity and individuality to your projects. It has played a big part in showing me and women that you can personalize things. This industry isn’t necessarily just about fixing a car; there are many different aspects that make autobody work more interesting.” – Olivia Gagnon, 14

“I think a quality that is important to be successful in this field is the willingness to learn. There is so much to learn in trades and technology and if you are not curious or don’t enjoy learning new things, it might be hard to thrive in this field.” – Soha Nathani, 16

“I see myself contributing to trades in the future by potentially going into welding, electric, or auto mechanics. Because of YWITT, I have been able to experience each of these trades which has helped me learn from experience what I enjoy and what field I might want to pursue for my future. I’d be interested in them because they’re fun and you’re not just sitting at a desk. Working these trades, every day is something new, you learn new things every day.” – Danielle Huszti, 16



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