The Saskatchewan Energy Training Institute (SETI) marked another milestone in its young history on May 25, with the celebration of its grand opening.
Hundreds of people gathered at the state-of-the-art facility in northeast Estevan for tours, speeches, a ribbon cutting and a barbecue lunch. They were able to learn more about the courses that are offered at the SETI, the technology available to the students, and the benefits that the building will have for the energy sector.
The Southeast Regional College operates the building, and the college's interim CEO, Jody Holzmiller, called the SETI a “fabulous facility.”
“I arrived at the college in December of 2005, and it wasn't long after that when the idea for an energy training facility came to light,” said Holzmiller. “The board and management team, at that time, worked tirelessly on planning and presenting the concept to staff, stakeholders and numerous potential planners.”
In the spring of 2009, the federal and provincial governments each committed more than $7 million in funding for SETI through the Knowledge Infrastructure Grant program, while the City of Estevan provided land in the Glen Peterson Industrial Park.
A ground-breaking ceremony was held in November of 2009, and construction began in the summer of 2010. Excessive precipitation over the next 11 months repeatedly delayed construction. The building was finally ready for occupancy late last year, and the first courses were offered in early January.
“In just four short months, we have settled in, and we are extremely excited for what the future holds for SETI, the City of Estevan, and for the people of our province,” said Holzmiller.
The building met its first big challenge during spring road bans, she said, when it was full every day with oilfield employees who were taking courses.
“I will admit that we had some worries … but thankfully we worked through it without any glitches,” said Holzmiller. “I think it was a really good test of the facility and of our staffing.”
Holzmiller said the SETI's labs and classrooms make it equipped to do anything that industry needs or wants.
Souris-Moose Mountain MP Ed Komarnicki said it's “quite remarkable” how quickly everything came together for the SETI to receive funding from the different levels of government.
“I'm looking forward to see if you will take this to the next level, if you will take it to the next step, to provide specialized training in the energy industry, that will be important here locally, provincially and beyond,” said Komarnicki. “I appreciate that it doesn't happen in one year or two years; it takes a lot of cooperation, a lot of partnerships and a lot of programming.”
Community colleges and regional colleges play an important role in allowing people to receive skills upgrades in a quick, efficient and affordable manner, he said.
Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles said she has been looking forward to the SETI's grand opening for a long time. She called it a remarkable building.
“It's a state-of-the-art facility,” said Eagles. “The capacity to deliver specialized training, not only for the oil industry, but other industries, and to do it in an environment like this is important.”
Mayor Gary St. Onge said he believes the SETI has the potential to become the most important educational facility in the region.
“Education is so important nowadays, even more than it ever was,” said St. Onge. “Most people, they talk about now, in a lifetime, will have at least three different jobs, and of course, with that, comes a lot of training.”
Other City of Estevan representatives who have viewed the building have been impressed, the mayor said.
Southeast Regional College board member Bernie Bjorndalen drew applause as he told the audience that the SETI is a world-class facility that is the envy of many people in other markets. He believes a lot of people partnered together to make the facility in Estevan.
He believes that the SETI will help the Southeast Regional College continue to fulfill its mandate.
“It's our responsibility to our students to continue to provide the best education and training, which is second-to-none, and constantly strive to stay one step ahead of the needs in our community,” said Bjorndalen. “This world-class facility will help us to support this mission.”