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CNA Burin campus welding student wins top national award

Robert Marshall, a welder engineering technician student at College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Burin campus, is this year’s recipient of the Canadian Welding Bureau Foundation’s Hugh Krentz Award.
Robert Marshall, a welder engineering technician student at College of the North Atlantic’s Burin campus, is this year’s recipient of the Canadian Welding Bureau Foundation’s Hugh Krentz Award. - Photo courtesy of the College of the North Atlantic

BURIN, N.L. – Robert Marshall’s return to school at College of the North Atlantic’s Burin campus has been a highly successful endeavour.

Marshall recently completed the welding engineering technician program with honours at the campus and received his Inspector Level 1 designation.

He was also notified he is this year’s recipient of the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) Foundation’s Hugh Krentz Award.

The recognition comes with a $7,500 cheque.

“Looking around the class there are others more academically inclined than I am, and I would have assumed one of them would get it,” Marshall said in a CNA release today, July 18.

“You’re never too old to start fresh. I’m seeing that a lot here actually. I am seeing people over the age of 45 and 50 that are restarting their trades … I’m too young to retire.”

Four years ago, a work-related permanent injury meant Marshall, a 15-year journeyman welder in his mid-40s, was faced with a decision – take a compensation package to retirement or go back to school.

He chose to train in other aspects of the welding trade.

CWB Foundation executive director Deborah Mates said Hugh Krentz is a welding industry icon.

“That award is really special because the recipient, if they know anything about the history of welding, know the calibre of Hugh as an individual and what that means to be awarded with something in his name,” she said.

Mates said there were several reasons why Marshall was the clear choice for the award.

“Robert wasn’t willing to give up on his career and continue doing what he loves. I think what really stood out for me was his interaction with the other students, and the ability to share his knowledge and all the he had learned along the way in industry, that is valuable to other students,” she said.

“It is really the mentorship that we saw, and his teachers spoke about his willingness to share that information with the class. And it’s not just about on the job, it’s life experience too that I think is so important for other students to hear about.”

While Mates recommends the potential winners, it’s Krentz who makes the final decision in consultation with the CWB president.

“With Robert’s background I think there are a lot of good opportunities for him in inspection and he’s not going to be dealing with the same work environment he would have as a welder,” said Burin campus instructor Jim Manning.

“My job turned from instructor to facilitator with Robert in the class. We wouldn’t be very far into the (class discussion) and Robert will have a story from his past that so succinctly sums up the lesson that it’s amazing. It’s been a real pleasure to have him in the class because he puts true relevance from his life experience to my lesson.”

Marshall, who said he plans to take an additional two Welding Code endorsements, as well as pursue his Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) qualification tests, acknowledged he would like to remain on the Burin Peninsula if possible.

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