You would think Capt. Kitching would be enjoying the good life after passing on the bulk of his responsibility to the new owners of Western Maritime Institute (WMI), but you would be wrong. With no parking spot available the other day, when I visited, I quickly realized, there was obviously big things going on at Western Maritime.
The Parking lot was full; on campus housing full; which meant the classrooms were full – bridge watchkeeping, firefighting, cargo work classes were the predominate courses. With two temporary classrooms buildings pressed into service; the traditional campus grounds were becoming pretty tight.
Capt. Kitching is still quite involved in developing the vision of an all-encompassing independent, highly focused maritime training center. Although he claims to have passed on the bulk of his duties to his four administrative staff, he was quite busy, when I dropped in for a visit last week.
His long time vision of having a full mission bridge simulator, and engineering department, is taking shape in the form of the transformation of the school’s gymnasium, into a two level classroom building. The construction work is well underway, and the bridge simulator package is already on site, awaiting installation. An obvious, and sizable investment in the training capabilities of the school by the new owners, Fraser Education.
The upstairs portion of the new building will house the bridge simulator and associated infrastructure, with additional classrooms. The downstairs portion of the building will house the engine room simulator, classroom and a workshop. The future plan is to establish a full engineering program at WMI.
While the engineering program moves into the development stage, WMI has been offering the Small Vessel Machinery Operator (SVMO). The Transport Canada approved course is taught by a local experienced engineer, and has been reasonably popular, with four intakes going through this past year.
In another bit of news, in recognition of WMI dedication to the maritime community and its broad training needs, the Vancouver Island Branch (VIB) of the Canadian Institute of Marine Engineering (CIMarE) will be presenting Western Maritime Institute with a $1500 donation.