Mad skills

By Mary Moffat

Ryan Folk, who lives in Arcola, was attending SIAST in his first year of the Electrician apprentice class when his instructor mentioned the Skills Sask. competition.  It spoke to him, and in April of 2018, he entered the competition.  The components included conduit work, motor control panel wiring, 4 way switching and plug wiring.  Judging included neatness, measurements with a tolerance of 5 mm and basic code rules.  Competitors included level 1-4 apprentices and Ryan took first place in a group of 9.

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In May of 2018 he moved on to compete in Nationals held in Edmonton Alberta. There were 13 competitors, one from each province and territory.  The skills required included all of those mentioned above plus Smart Relay Control and a lot more residential wiring.  Smart relay operation is a laptop programmable device that can be used for motor control, cutting down the number of connections 10-fold, which cuts down the number of items on the schematic, allowing for huge cuts in material and time due to the ease of wiring. Judging was the same as mentioned previously but now also meant every connection could have no copper showing, along with the quality of the Smart Relay Control.  Folk says he made a couple of silly mistakes, which landed him in 4th place.  The top two age eligible competitors were selected to move on, and to Folks surprise the 2nd and 3rd place holders were over the age of 22 and he was now eligible to move on to the worlds.

Folk has been training in Regina to prepare himself for his next big challenge.  The Australian World Skills Competition takes place in Melbourne, Australia is just that.  Folk is currently there, to prepare for and take part in what is basically the equivalent of an exhibition match.  This 10-day trip is paid for through Skills Canada and Folk is excited to learn everything he can during that time.

Worlds has a lot more automation involved, using KNX, a home and building automation platform that can run pretty much all lights and receptacles in a home. It uses the Smart Relay for motor control and must be able to tell KNX what to do or vice versa. While some of this is currently in Canada, there are over 600 different manufacturers and each must be approved by Canada Standards Association, so it may be a while before he can use these same components in Canada.  There will be an expert assigned from each respective country to vouch for the individual country’s standards, and 90% of the wiring will be run through the computer program.

The competition will take five days, with the first day dedicated to inspecting and familiarizing himself with the materials and the next four days he will use the few sheets of paper containing the project measurements and a description of the finished projects.  Safety is a priority throughout the 4 days and use of safety equipment is a big part of that.  The project will not be allowed to power up unless it will pass safety. 

The end of May will see Folk heading to Nova Scotia for Skills Canada National World’s Selection, basically doing the same things he learned in Australia.  Should he succeed there he will be eligible to compete in Russia in August.  This is a huge challenge for an Electrician apprentice who has completed half of the 4 rounds of classroom study.  Folk is a level 3, but his classroom studies had to be postponed in order to compete.  Folk is grateful to the support of his boss, Jamie Chapman, of Chapman Electric for the time off; Dwayne Vert for the one on one, on the job training; Daniel Nelson of Regina, his trainer; the support of his partner Brandy Holmes (no relation to Mike Holmes) and his parents, Rene Creuset and Rod Folk.

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