Staff Spotlight: Heather Bruederlin

Heather Bruederlin profile photo in the welding shop.

I started at Assiniboine this year as a welding instructor. I worked in the industry for a while, gaining some valuable training, before coming to the college. I was able to travel a bit and work at a few large construction sites. I also worked at Crocus Plains High School in Brandon as an education assistant in their welding shop. The school started grooming me to teach, and I spent four years at Crocus helping teach welding. I applied for the position at Assiniboine when it came up, and I’m enjoying my time here. Right now, I hold two different positions: one as a job coach and one as a shop instructor. It’s been a very nice chain of events, and I’m lucky to be able to do what I do.

It’s actually kind of come full circle. I attended Assiniboine as a trades student. I actually won a scholarship to take a trade, thanks to Much Music (thank you!). I chose Assiniboine’s welding program, and that was my first introduction to trades. The scholarship was a random online contest offered through CHUM Radio to take a skilled trade. I had never really thought about taking a trade program before that. I was working at a different job, completely different from trades, at the time.

Heather Bruederlin welding in shop.

When it came time to make my decision as to what skilled trade program I wanted to take, I knew I didn’t want to become a plumber or an electrician; welding, on the other hand, seemed pretty cool and piqued my interest more than the others.

During my time here, I also competed in the Manitoba Skills Competition, and I won bronze. My name is still on a banner hanging in the hallways at the college, and I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment!

The transition from a student, to working in the industry, and now as an instructor has been weird. Not a bad weird, but just the way I have to approach things. I’m so used to just knowing how to do the little things. As a student, everything was set up for us. We showed up and were told what to do and asked questions.

But now as an instructor, from the other side of the table, I have to think about the why’s of it all. I need to be able to explain things like why you hold the rod this way or hold things at certain inclinations. I have to think about things a whole lot more because now I have to explain it and pass that knowledge along in my lessons. I definitely have a greater respect for instructors and teachers now that I know how much work goes into each and every lesson.

Heather Bruederlin grinding metal in trades shop.

When I first started as a student, there weren’t many females in the program. I’ve worked with and met some great female welders throughout my career though. Now, there seems to be many more taking the program. It’s really nice to see. I still feel a bit weird to be told that it was me that got someone interested in trades and the program itself. There’s a lot of pressure with being a role model but it’s pretty cool. I’m glad I can make people feel comfortable and get interested in the industry. It definitely feels bigger than me. I don’t feel like I’m setting out to do that, it’s not a goal of mine. But it’s super cool when someone comes up to you and says they are taking the program because of me. It’s awesome to be a part things in that regard.