PLANT

Cinde/Mohawk address NDT technicians shortage


September 15, 2008
by Steve Gahbauer

Ultrasonic testing at Mohawk College’s non-destructive testing lab. Mohawk and CINDE have created a program to address an anticipated shortage of NDT technicians.

Photo: CINDE

Non-destructive testing (NDT) and evaluation (NDE) plays a critical role in manufacturing and maintenance. Highly skilled and specially trained technicians prevent unexpected failure using sophisticated equipment and techniques to evaluate areas that are difficult or impossible to examine by other methods.

It’s a simple concept, but there’s a problem. Maintenance professionals and the CINDE Journal, published by the Canadian Institute for NDE (CINDE), contend Canadian NDT is suffering from a shortfall of qualified technicians. A recent North American survey indicates there’s also an alarming shortage of NDT inspectors. To compound the problem, there are no formal NDT apprenticeship programs for quality control technicians. They learn on the job, but they must adhere to ISO standards, which require formal training through an approved training centre and certification from the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB).

Turning a problem into an opportunity, CINDE and the Mohawk College for Applied Arts and Technology—both based in Hamilton—are jointly addressing this need for promoting and educating the next generation of NDT technicians who will replace the present workforce, an estimated 50% of whom will leave the profession over the next 10 years through retirement, or for other opportunities.

The program, developed by industry experts, fills the gap with a 2½-year co-operative education internship called the Quality Engineering Technician—NDE. Students gain valuable hands-on experience and classroom training to meet the requirements of ISO 9712, the key NDT standard. They’re also ready for Level-2 certification in radiography, ultrasonics, liquid penetrant, magnetic particle and eddy current technologies, which is available through Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

“Faculty and staff enjoy a very close connection with business and industry and welcome the opportunity to partner with CINDE in the delivery of this new program,” says Brad Bowman, a professional engineer and professor of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at Mohawk College. He is also one of the program’s instructors.

The not-for-profit CINDE offers training facilities, education and certification testing for NDT personnel. Its well-equipped facilities, located on Mohawk’s Fennell Campus, include an approved test centre for conducting hands-on training and CGSB examinations for the NRCan, certified exposure device operators (CEDO) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). CGSB-certified instructors with significant NDT experience deliver the training.