I Have Always Had A Desire to Teach!Jim Armstrong is one busy guy. As Chief Instructor for BCIT’s Industrial Instrumentation and Controls Technician and the Industrial Instrumentation Apprenticeship programs, his roles include not only Chief Instructor, but researcher, designer, consultant, contractor and fundraiser.
Jim has been with BCIT from the very beginning, graduating from what was then called BCIT Instrumentation and Process Control Technology. As part of only the second graduating class, Jim had his pick of jobs. He chose to enter an apprenticeship program and went to work at Elk Falls pulp mill in Campbell River, first as an apprentice and later as a journeyman instrument mechanic.
“I have always had a desire to teach,” says Jim, “and once I had my trade established, which I also love, I was able to combine my two interests into one job.” Jim’s enthusiasm for his subject is obvious and infectious. When prospective students go to Jim’s area for a tour, he always manages to convince a few new students that their future is in Industrial Instrumentation and Controls. For Jim, the best part of his job is “working with and training students on real control systems.”
In addition to his teaching career, Jim has maintained his own industrial instrumentation consulting and service business for over 25 years. His energy and dedication to his subject have brought great dividends to the BCIT programs – students get to learn from an experienced instructor with up-to-the-minute industry experience, and his connections with local industry have ensured the process plants are outfitted with a variety of instrument technologies and manufacturers. His efforts were recognized in 2004 with a BCIT fundraising award.
Jim was also the driving force behind the creation of the real-world processing plants that are central to all of the instrumentation and controls programs offered at BCIT, and he is clearly proud of the program he designed. “Hands-on practical control training on real industrial processes is something students can get only if they come to BCIT for their training.” It is this aspect which impresses employers most too. Employers seek out BCIT instrumentation grads because the students really do have “job-ready skills.”
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