What is a millwright?
2018 was a year of changes for me
as I finished my Millwright Foundation program at Kwantlen
Polytechnic University, quit slinging coffee at Starbucks, and
started a millwright apprenticeship at a plastics recycling plant.
As such, this has been a hectic year with lots of learning, hard
work and hitting things with hammers.
Millwrights work in industrial settings
installing, repairing and maintaining industrial equipment. It’s a
mechanical trade that works across a variety of industries from
construction to resource extraction to manufacturing.
It’s been an interesting transition
because I arrived in the trade as my boss says, ‘As green as can
be.’ Before I started school the most mechanical things I had done
were taking care of my bicycle and… that’s about it. I chose the
trade because it was described as a ‘jack-of-all’ trade with a big
emphasis on problem solving and what looked at the time as a short
waitlist (I was wrong), and even though my process for choosing it
was not the most rigorous I feel like I made a good choice because
I enjoyed my schooling and am enjoying my work.
The plant I work at is a sorting facility.
We receive curbside collection and some presorted recyclables from
the provincial recycling authority and we run them through a
system of conveyor belts, mechanical sorting machines, optical
scanners, and past human sorters (otherwise known as low tech
optical scanners since they both ‘see’ the material and move it to
the correct conveyor belt) and then form bales of sorted plastics
to be sold to processing facilities. In the past 7 months of
working there I’ve learned how to clip, patch, and change belts,
fix wire guides on balers, and unjam the line and keep it running.
I’m still early in my apprenticeship but it’s been challenging,
fun, and rewarding (when fixes work).