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Killarney’s Kemp would love to be gold metal-ist

Killarney’s Kemp would love to be gold metal-ist

Written On: 26 May, 2017
Category: Academic Awards Community Student Spotlight
Related programs:  Industrial Metals Fabrication

On May 31 to June 3rd four Assiniboine Community College students will be part of the annual Skills Canada National Competition taking place in Winnipeg at the RBC Convention Centre. The event brings together more than 500 students and apprentices to take part in more than 40 hands-on skilled trade and technology competitions.

Parker Kemp (Industrial Metals Fabrication)

Taking nothing and turning it into something. 

That’s essentially what Parker Kemp loves about machining.

But while it took him quite some time to discover his craft, once he did so, his passion for it became immediately evident.

The 20-year-old’s path to his chosen field took a number of twists and turns. With an electrician grandfather, Kemp learned a lot about the electrical business, and thought he might pursue that line of work. But it was while helping out a buddy that Kemp was first exposed to welding.

“My friend Zach – he’s in a wheelchair – he builds derby cars,” Kemp said. “So I was welding for him because he can’t, and I’d never touched a welder – not ever – until I was 19. And I thought, ‘This is actually pretty cool!’

“I did three years of electrical apprenticeship with my grandpa through Apprenticeship Manitoba, and then I totally switched it up. I decided I wanted to give welding a whirl. And I knew that my friend had taken the Industrial Metals Fabrication program at ACC. And he recommended I do that.”

Kemp was resolute about becoming a welder until he began the first part of his course at Assiniboine Community College, where he was introduced to the metal lathe.

“I’d never ever seen one of those machines before I got to ACC,” Kemp said. “And the machining part is a total shock to me because I thought, ‘I’m just here to learn a couple of other things before I get into welding.’ And then it was like, ‘Well, maybe machining’s where I want to go!’”

With so many options, Kemp’s attempts to settle on a career were both frustrating and fascinating. And there was some uncertainty too, since he’d not exactly been a stellar student at Killarney Collegiate Institute.  

“I sucked at high school,” he said frankly. “I barely made it through my math courses. I’m sure my mom was a little worried about me going to college for what was pretty much a math course! And I was pretty intimidated when I got to Assiniboine. But between Lance (Seib) being a phenomenal teacher and helping me out with the math, I love math now! I can’t get enough of it! So I’m super-happy that I decided to get into the course. Because I really, really enjoyed it and lots of interesting things came out of it.”

Probably the most interesting thing was his discovery of machining. He loves it for the challenges it presents, and also for the sense of satisfaction he gets from creating parts that are integral to a functioning final product.   

“There’s millions of pieces involved,” Kemp said. “And I like the idea of making things. Knowing that you took that from a block of aluminum or whatever and turned it into what it is, I just love it.”

An avid cyclist, Kemp said machining parts for bikes or cars would be “super cool.” Doing the same for airplanes would be “really, really sweet.”

And it certainly appears any of those things are possible. Even though machining was new to him, he took to it like a duck to water, so much so that he won the gold medal in machining at the Skills Manitoba competition.

“I was pretty surprised, to say the least,” Kemp said of the provincial win. “I didn’t expect that at all – not even a little bit.”

So now he moves on to the Skills Canada Precision Machining Competition. He’s been practicing a lot, but is “definitely nervous” about the nation-wide contest. However, his enthusiasm, his ability and his desire to excel should take him a long way.   

“I don’t know if it’s quite sunk in what I’m going to,” Kemp said. “It sounds like it’s going to be quite the event. They’ve even got commercials for this thing! I saw one at the theatre the other day! But we’ll see what happens. I’ll go in and give it my best shot. Who can do more than that?”