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Have classroom, will travel

SAIT offers just over 30 apprentice programs, but Dan Weinert, a SAIT carpentry instructor, estimates the average person could name just ten. His answer to this information gap? "We need to get some exposure in the high schools and junior highs about all the trades that are available." 

It's this thinking that helped Weinert secure the Cadmus Foundation Trades Teaching Chair, an award that honours excellence in trades. As the 2012-13 Cadmus award recipient, Weinert was provided $25,000 and four months leave from teaching duties to pursue a project he calls Tailgate Trades.

It's a hands-on carpentry project Weinert designed to take to high-school students. Weinert invested his award money in a cargo trailer outfitted with equipment and he travelled to area schools to introduce students to carpentry by helping them frame a house built at 1:10 scale. Students learned how to read blueprints and perform carpentry skills associated with framing a house. 

He says a few students didn't warm to the idea but most loved it and some enthusiastically rose to the challenge, including one young female student who built the entire house by herself. 

"I wasn't sure what to expect at the beginning," says Weinert. "I knew it was going to be a popular idea. I just had no idea how popular!"

The success of the project suggested it may be continued and possibly expanded. "There is going to be a concerted effort to continue on with Tailgate Trades in the future," says Weinert. "We intend to broaden it to include other programs within the School of Construction then other SAIT schools."

SAIT carpentry instructor Dan Weinert loaded a cargo trailer with materials to frame a 1:10 scale model of a house and took his Trades Tailgate project to high schools across Calgary.