The mass timber construction movement in North America started in B.C. about a decade ago but like most other jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S., the province has lagged on training opportunities for builders and their workers in the new construction medium.
That is about to change as the B.C. Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Burnaby commences a 10-month pilot program in January.
“We are trying to fill a training gap for the mass timber sector by allowing carpenters or ironworkers to enhance their expertise with specific skills and knowledge,” says Ciprian Pirvu of the Faculty School of Construction and the Environment at BCIT.
“I think this is overdue.”
Called the Associate Certificate in Construction of Mass Timber Structures, the program has four online courses covering construction planning and rigging/hoisting to moisture management and mass timber installation techniques.
In the fifth segment, students apply what they have learned in the assembly of a two-storey mass timber mock-up, a structure designed by a team led by Moses Structural Engineers, Pirvu says. The structure includes cross-laminated timber, nail-laminated timber and other mass timber components along with various connections and hardware.
“Working on a two-storey structure is not the same as working on a 20-storey structure but this is a beginning.”
The mock-up will be constructed outdoors, but Pirvu says expansion plans on the campus could free up interior space for its construction in future iterations of the course, he says.
While the certificate program is the first of its kind in Canada, it is not the first time BCIT has offered courses on mass timber.
Through engagement with the B.C. construction industry and even a trip to the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades in Toronto to see its hands-on mass timber training course, BCIT developed a curriculum in eight online mini courses for carpenters, ironworkers and others last year.
Earlier this year, it held a 16-week course in mass timber but unlike the upcoming program, the course was all theory and done online.
Pirvu believes BCIT is the natural choice for the certificate program because the technical college has a wealth of experience in trades training programs that prepare students for jobs upon completion.
The January pilot, which runs part-time until October, will be offered to 19 students free of charge. Future plans call for a permanent program to run every fall until the next summer, he says.
Huge congratulations on a fantastic and much needed training program for the trades.
I would like to enroll in the MASS TIMBER Class. Please respond when you read this. Thank you.