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StPatsTech – A Grand Design

For architect, Peter Moeck, designing a successful building is more about the outcomes for the people inhabiting that space than awards and praise.

Peter, who has been St Patrick’s Technical College’s architect since before a site for the school was even selected, recently returned to the college to oversee its new $120,000, 150-square-metre extension. The expansion will provide more space for the School of Building & Construction, in particular for wet trade specialities.

A specialist in educational architecture, Peter said when StPatsTech (then known as the Australian Technical College – Northern Adelaide) was being designed, modular systems were hugely popular for schools. However, not a fan of the modular model, Peter said he was happy when the project partners agreed StPatsTech should be a purpose-built facility.

“You have got to purpose-build because the results are enduring and robust,’’ he said.

“Of the three technical colleges in South Australia, and all were different – this (StPatsTech) was the only one that was purpose-built. There were some big picture decisions which went down the sustainable pathway and they were purpose-built so the outcome has been a hundred times better and so much more cost effective.’’

Peter said the brief for the design was to produce a campus that was sympathetic to its industrial surroundings but to be contemporary and comfortable, have the maximum floor space, be highly functional and be cost effective.

He said his favourite part of the campus is the large 64 metre long, three metre high rusted steel screen which runs the length of the Hooke Road side of the campus. The screen was made in consultation with the College’s Operations Manager, Greg Collins, and Groundplay’s Gregg Mitchell and Greg Healey. It features laser cut patterns as well as galvanised steel industrial symbols to represent the College’s programs.

“That vista had to say ‘vocational experience’ and capture the five original trades. It is an iconic statement,’’ Peter said.

“It breaks the mould a bit without stating the bleeding obvious and it’s a little bit quirky.”

Since completion of the campus in 2007, Peter has returned to the College to design additions and extensions such as the science pods, new learning spaces and a reconfiguration of the library.

“There is still a core group of people who have been with StPatsTech since the beginning that gives a connectivity to this place.’’

Peter said he enjoyed building those working relationships with the staff but overwhelmingly the most pride he felt for the project came from seeing the spaces used for their purpose and the success stories which come from the College.

“There is a pride there but the pride doesn’t come from ‘it’s a great building’, it comes from what’s happening in that building,’’ Peter said.

“When the school produced its Interim report and hearing from the South Australian Apprentice of the Year, Jack Donaldson, who attended the school, that really resonates with me. I feel like I’ve been involved in something bigger than just a building.’’

The project, which was done while Peter was at architecture firm Brown Falconer, has received a number of awards including the Architecture Award for Public Architecture, a Commendation for Collaborative Design and the Colorbond Award for Excellence in Steel Architecture from the Australian Institute of Architects SA Chapter in 2009.

Peter is a Registered Architect in SA. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and the Past Chair of the Association for Learning Environments SA Chapter Australasia Region.

Peter received the inaugural Robert Denyer Cheesman Award for Best Practice in Architecture 2013 from the Architectural Practice Board of SA on 29 January 2014. The award recognises that architecture is for and about people, and that long term relationships based on trust and rapport have immense value.

Picture 11b

Cambodia pilgrimage 2017

St Patrick’s Technical College students and staff will travel to Cambodia in September 2017 to learn new skills and share their knowledge to help build stronger communities.

Picture 12bWith the help of the Rotary Club of Elizabeth, 14 students and three teachers will spend ten days in Cambodia’s Siem Reap area helping to improve the lives of local school students. Elizabeth Rotary has kindly donated $5000 to financially assist a number of students to take part in the trip.

The 2017 trip will include two projects:

The major project will see students and staff undertake a construction project. This will use the skills the technical college students have learnt while in the school’s workshops in northern Adelaide and apply them to help a school in Cambodia. The students will also be asked to teach the local students many of the construction skills to ensure the project can be maintained for the long-term. This year the students will build on the work they did in 2016, which saw 800m of water pipe laid from the local well to the school, by helping to bring water to the community market.

Picture 2bThe second project will see the school create book packs, buy uniforms and purchase bicycles for students of a remote school. Without these things, students cannot attend the government school. StPatsTech hopes to ease the burden on the local families by buying books, stationery, uniforms and bicycles so remote students can more easily access school each day.

The College has launched a GoFundMe page which will raise money that will go directly towards construction material and school needs of Cambodian children. StPatsTech will purchase the goods in-country to reduce shipping costs and support the local economy and encourage those who are able to donate via the GoFundMe page.

The journey to Cambodia embodies the St Patrick’s Technical College belief of Faith in Action. Passing on and sharing skills to ensure projects are successful for a lifetime, is an important part of this work by StPatsTech.


Work experience

Undertaking work experience is the difference between securing an apprenticeship or not. The extensive work experience program at StPatsTech is one of the main reasons why the College has seen nearly 800 students gain apprenticeships over the past 10 years.

Whether it is a school-based apprenticeship started in Year 12 or a full-time apprenticeship following graduation, employers are consistently sourcing their newest tradesmen and women from the College’s work experience program.

For students, work experience can not only rule in potential career pathways, but importantly help you rule out jobs. It also helps builds technical skills, get a feel for the workplace and develop your confidence and communication skills.

Brandon Hwang, 16, from the StPatsTech Engineering program spent his latest work experience block at the College’s P-TECH partner, Century Engineering at Edinburgh North.

Working with the company’s 71-year-old boilermaker, Ken Tipping, Brandon said he had gained a good insight into the industry he’s keen to join.

“I’ve been able to see the type of work they do here (at Century Engineering) and how important precisions is,’’ Brandon said.

Ken said exposure to industry and workshops was important for potential apprentices to ensure they were on the right career path. “The students need to know if they want to be in this environment because it’s not for everyone,’’ Mr Tipping said.

Brandon is one of StPatsTech’s Engineering P-TECH students who, under the guidance of Century Engineering, are learning about the importance of Australian Standards in the welding and fabrication industry. As part of the 2017 P-TECH course, students will learn to do a fillet weld to the Australian Standard by the end of the year.


Meet our latest SA Training Awards finalist

Madison ter Bogt, St Patrick’s Technical College Year 12 student and apprentice Chef at FINO Seppeltsfield, has been named as a finalist in the SA Training Awards 2017, School-based Apprentice of the Year Award.

Madison said she was very excited to be named as a finalist for the annual prize, which is part of the peak awards for apprentices and trainees in South Australia.

St Patrick’s Technical College last year celebrated with Old Scholar, Jack Donaldson, being named as South Australia’s Apprentice of the Year, while Rhys Ferrari, an electronics apprentice with BAE Systems, was a finalist in the School-based category.

“This nomination could change my career,’’ 17-year-old Madison said.

maddi2Madison is studying a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery with TAFE SA and under the guidance of head chef, Sam Smith, at the award-winning FINO Seppeltsfield.

“Madison is very committed to the industry in her care and attention she pays to products and technique,’’ Chef Smith said.

FINO Seppeltsfield has three apprentices in its kitchen at the moment, with Madison the only school-based apprentice. Past FINO apprentices, including, Sarah Voigt (StPatsTech 2011), have gone on to work overseas and in top, Michelin-rated restaurants.

Madison has big plans for her future as well. She hopes to travel the world to expand her culinary knowledge.

College Business Development Manager, Patrick Kelly, said the school was immensely proud of Madison’s shortlisting in the awards.

“Maddie is a fine example of the great outcomes possible for students when educators and industry work together,’’ Mr Kelly said.

“Madison is able to focus on her passion for cooking without sacrificing her education and being shortlisted as finalist will open even more doors to her.

“We are very proud of Madison and wish her all the best for the awards.’’

The winner will be named at the SA Training Awards 2017 Gala Dinner on 1 September at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.


Life changing scholarships

Scholarships can change lives and if you needed more proof of this, look no further than 16 year old, Edwije Pendo, from St Patrick’s Technical College.

Edwije’s enrolment in the College’s Construction program this year was only possible thanks to The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program. This scholarship, aimed at supporting disadvantaged children and youth through education from preschool to tertiary studies, has been a turning point in Edwije’s life and career ambitions.

“The Smith Family gave me a scholarship to enter the school,’’ she said. “This meant that I only had to contribute a small sum of money. If it wasn’t for their support I would have missed out on a life-changing opportunity. The support from The Smith Family meant that I was able to have the best education at the best school.”

Edwije, who arrived in Australia as a five-year-old in 2006 from a Tanzanian refugee camp, hopes to secure a school-based apprenticeship as a first fix carpenter.

With three brothers and five sisters, Edwije’s family struggled financially following their arrival as her father’s building qualifications were not recognised in Australia. When her father stopped working long hours in a local factory to begin full-time studies the family were reliant on Centrelink benefits.

So in 2011, a year after they became Australian citizens, the family joined The Smith Family. Edwije was in the charity’s Student to Student program to help improve her English skills.

“One day a letter came from The Smith Family inviting all Year 10 students to attend a tour and information night at St Patrick’s Technical College. The College presents unique opportunities for students to start a trade and pathways through school-based apprenticeships,’’ she said.

“I thought this was a great opportunity for me to chase my passion.’’

Edwije said her teachers’ encouragement and support in the classroom and workshop had helped build her confidence and inspire her to chase her dreams.

“I really enjoy all the lessons because they are focused on what you want to do and you are not learning irrelevant stuff,’’ she said.

Edwije said being the only girl in her class was not an issue as the students all shared common interests in trade. She hopes to encourage more women to take up roles in male-dominated industries, like carpentry.

“I now feel quite confident entering a workforce that is male-dominated. I feel that it will give me an opportunity to empower and encourage women that stereotypes are barriers that we must learn to overcome.

“I would like to learn the business of carpentry so I will potentially have my own company and employ young people. I want to be able to help the community as it has so generously helped me.’’

For more information about St Patrick’s Technical College’s scholarships contact 8209 3700. For information about The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program contact 8224 1400.


The workforce evolving door

By Cara Jenkin, The Advertiser, Saturday 17 July 2017 – Pathways to a successful career can come from all directions, as one heavy diesel mechanic has discovered.

Aden Bird, 22, is a heavy diesel mechanic with CMV Trucks and St Patrick’s Technical College old scholar.

“I left Xavier College from year 11 to study year 12 at St Patrick’s because I really wanted to get into a trade and the StPatsTech mechanical program gave me a better chance to do that,’’ Aden said.

Aden said he liked the fact that StPatsTech Automotive teacher Mark Valente is a mechanic by trade as well as a teacher, so was able to impart real-world practical skills to the students.

Aden1“The thing about StPatsTech is that it doesn’t have just normal teachers who haven’t experienced the things that you want to do.’’

Aden was able to secure a full-time apprenticeship during Year 12 following a successful block of work experience with CMV Trucks.

The company has been a great supporter of StPatsTech having recently taken on another apprentice from the school following Aden gaining his qualification.

Aden said he enjoyed earning his own money during his apprenticeship and had been able to put together a $30,000 to $40,000 tool box as well as more than a dozen cars or motorbikes as hobby projects.

“My trade is also recognised worldwide so there’s no limit for me anymore. I would like to travel and maybe work overseas somewhere like Dubai where the diesel industry is very large.’’

St Patrick’s Technical College is located in Adelaide’s northern suburbs. Its unique education style sees students study their SACE as well as trade qualifications through the school’s partnership with TAFE SA.


SA budget investment in apprentices

St Patrick’s Technical College has welcomed the South Australian Government’s 2017/18 budget measures to encourage more youth into apprenticeships.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis announced an extra $8.1 million over three years for the Jobs Accelerator Grants.

For local small businesses, this could be a great step to putting on a School-based Apprentice. Businesses with payrolls less than $600,000 will be eligible for a grant of $9000 over two years for each new job of 22 hours or more per week.

Businesses with payroll between $600,000 and $5 million will now be eligible for up to $15,000 over two years for each full-time equivalent apprentice. Both packages will be backdated to July 2016.

StPatsTech Principal, Rob Thomas, said the extra $5000 per package would help encourage investment in apprenticeships in the local area.

With approximately 800 Year 11 and 12 StPatsTech students commencing apprenticeships in the past decade, Mr Thomas said the specialist technical and vocational college had introduced innovative programs like P-TECH and new courses to keep abreast of the skills needs in Adelaide industries.

He said the College’s ability to respond the industry skills needs was even more important now with the closure of automotive manufacturing at the Holden plant in the northern suburbs and the emerging Defence and Advanced Manufacturing industries in the region.

“We are very excited to be introducing an Information Technology Certificate IV Programming course in partnership with Saab Australia and TAFE SA for 2018,’’ Mr Thomas said.

“Working collaboratively with industry and having built those relationships over the past 10 years, means StPatsTech is uniquely positioned to respond to addressing the skills gaps across a range of industries.’’

Mr Thomas encouraged the College’s current employer partners and any business considering employing an apprentice, to access the Jobs Accelerator Grants from the South Australian Government.

For more information please contact StPatsTech Communications Officer, Hayley Odgers, on 8209 3709 or


P-TECH Engineering project

St Patrick’s Technical College and Century Engineering’s P-TECH partnership has seen Year 11 students learn the importance of maintaining industry standards when it comes to welding.

The Year 11 Engineering students were accompanied by Century Engineering’s Andrew Sinclair and Simon Doe to Intertek AIS (Adelaide Inspection Services) at Wingfield recently. The field trip was designed to help students understand why quality assurance is important and how it is achieved within the engineering industry.

The students, under the guidance of Century Engineering, are working on a project (as part of P-TECH) that will see them undertake a gas metal arc welding project to the requirements of Australian Standard AS 15541.1. Once their welding project is complete, their work will be taken to Intertek AIS for testing against the standard.

The project is designed to help bridge the gap in welding standards and help students gain valuable, employable skills.

CENTURY AIS VISITDamien Lynch, Manager, Mechanical Testing Asset Integrity Management, gave a presentation about Intertek, explaining the business and the services it provides to a variety of industry sectors including the Defence Industry. He also explained the importance of the quality standards of welding and the consequences of failing to reach these standards.

A variety of methods used in testing welding sample were demonstrated and the students were shown both good and poor examples.

St Patrick’s Technical College is South Australia’s only school selected to be part of the Australian Government’s P-TECH program. P-TECH aims to bring real-life skills to youth while focusing on science, technology, engineering and maths subjects and encouraging innovation. It is unique as it brings industry partners into the class room in partnership with educators.

SaabAustralia Facebook

Training the “New Collar” workforce

St Patrick’s Technical College is expanding and will soon be training the computer software engineers of the future as part of a national program which aims to boost the skills of Australia’s youth.

Thanks to a new course at the college, Year 11 and 12 students can now study an industry-level qualification in software development under the guidance of a global Defence industries company.

StPatsTech will introduce a TAFE SA Certificate IV in Programming in 2018 as part of the P-TECH program. Partnering with Saab Australia, students will be given a unique opportunity to learn from one of the Defence industries biggest players and set themselves up for a career that is in high demand. Saab Australia joined other P-TECH partners Century Engineering and PMB Defence to sign a Memorandum of Understanding at the Adelaide Careers and Employment Expo on May 26.

StPatsTech principal Rob Thomas said he believed the College was the first secondary school in South Australia to offer the Certificate IV course to students.

“We hope this will lead these students directly into the local Defence industries workforce and helps them broaden their career horizons,’’ Mr Thomas said.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Saab Australia and working with TAFE SA to offer this course to students. It is really aimed at those students who are interested in technology and computers but with a trade focus.’’

Dean Rosenfield, Managing Director Saab Australia, said the P-TECH partnership with St Patrick’s Technical College allows Saab Australia to play an active role in the learning and career development of its future technical workforce.

“With so many significant defence industry projects planned for the next 20 to 30 years in Australia we will require a new level of people with specialist technical skills,’’ Mr Rosenfield said.

“This partnership ensures secondary students will learn the technological skills, understand industry demands and gain a much higher level of practical experience before emerging into the workforce. This new partnership further expands Saab Australia’s work in building defence industry capacity and delivering world-class solutions for future key projects.”

TAFE SA’s Acting Director, Business, Information Technology and Justice Hilary Ashworth said the program with Saab Australia provides students with a career pathway enabling direct entry into employment within the growing national defence industry.

Describing the P-TECH Saab Australia course as exciting, Ms Ashworth said: “TAFE SA is proud to be providing the training and educational expertise to ensure students learn the skills that innovative companies like Saab Australia need for software engineers of the future.”

“TAFE SA is increasing our focus on responding to the training requirements of the defence industry and highly values working with StPatsTech to train young people to meet the industry’s skills needs.”

The P-TECH program will see Saab Australia develop a project for students to gain skills relevant to the industry, mentoring, and work experience.