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Before taking part in a robotics competition in high school, Deanna Reynolds had no idea what a millwright was. Today, the 22-year-old Calgarian is getting ready to represent Canada at the 2017 WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi this fall, where she will compete in the industrial mechanics millwright category. “While I was there, I got to walk around and see the different trades,” she told The Homestretch of the robotics competition. “I saw millwrighting and it seemed pretty cool but I didn’t think much of it at the time. Then about a year later, my dad suggested, ‘why don’t you try millwrighting?’ So I said ‘I’ll give it a go,’ and here I am, four years later.”

Reynolds, a graduate of SAIT’s four-year apprenticeship program, describes a millwright as “an industrial mechanic.” “We work on anything from pumps to motors, compressors, all types of things,” she said. “Really, it’s pretty much a mix of all the trades into one big trade. Some days I might be welding something or working on conveyors or working on gearbox motors. Every day is something new.” Along with training for the upcoming competition, Reynolds works for Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope.

“What I do day-to-day is I’m a maintenance millwright,” she said. “We have a little shop in the back corner and we go around and make sure the machines are running and do preventative maintenance so they can work for a long time to come.” Moving into the trades was a natural progression for Reynolds, who said she was always handy growing up. “I’ve always enjoyed doing things around the house and helping my dad in the yard and working on the RV and stuff like that. so I guess it comes naturally and I’m passionate about it,” she said. “One of my uncles is a welder out in Saskatchewan and the other is a heavy-duty mechanic so I guess it runs in the family.”

The WorldSkills competition has been described as being the Olympics for young people in the trades. It takes place every two years. Reynolds qualified for this year’s competition by finishing third at last year’s national championship in Moncton, N.B. “To qualify for the worlds you have to be 21 and under, so the first place guy was too old then the second place guy didn’t pass the testing trials after,” said Reynolds. “Then they emailed me and asked it I wanted to join.” Reynolds is one of 30 trades people who will make up Team Canada, including seven others from Alberta. They include:

  • Aaron Taves, automobile technology Camrose.
  • Alexandre Sidorchuk, aircraft maintenance, Calgary.
  • Justin Fisher, plumbing and heating, Lethbridge.
  • Ryley LaFrance, industrial control, Edmonton.
  • Scott Dombowsky-Oneski, cabinetmaking, Rocky View.
  • Tanner Tendler, heavy vehicle maintenance, Medicine Hat.
  • Victoria Hislop, cooking, Calgary.​
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