A local tradesperson’s generous donation of thousands of dollars of highly sought-after precision measurement tools will give Okanagan College students some heavy-duty hands-on learning opportunities.
Bill Schoof, a retired journeyman, has donated his collection of machinist tools to Okanagan College after learning about the renovation and expansion of the Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus.
“If you’re learning a trade you need more than books, you need the right tools in your hand as well,” said Schoof. “The college already has great equipment, of course, but I know that good tools are always in demand, always appreciated. I was glad to hear that they would benefit students and I’m happy to see them put to good use.”
“It’s been wonderful to see the support from the community as our new Trades Training Complex comes together,” said Steve Moores, dean of OC Trades and Apprenticeship. “We greatly appreciate donations of equipment like this. They enrich our programs. They help us ensure that students have opportunities to work on and learn on a wide variety of equipment that they’ll encounter out in their industries.”
“I want to extend a sincere thank-you on behalf of Okanagan College to Mr. Schoof for this generous gift. As a journeyperson machinist and tool and die maker myself, I feel a special connection to these tools and the trade, and I appreciate that Mr. Schoof has chosen to share an important part of his life’s work to inspire our students.”
Schoof’s donation is one of several major donations of equipment to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign, which was launched last fall by the Okanagan College Foundation, with the goal of raising $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. In addition to over $3.5 million in funds raised, several local individuals and organizations have contributed equipment, including Art Salt, who donated a Caterpillar front-end loader to the college last year.
Schoof’s collection includes digital vernier calipers, micrometers and other machinist equipment, and is valued at over $4,500. The equipment will be used by students in the automotive service technician and mechanical engineering technology programs.
According to Schoof, the tools took half a life-time to acquire, spanning the course of his 40-year career as a tool and die-maker. He reflected on the difficulty of acquiring them, piece-by-piece, while also working full-time during his training.
“I took a little out of my paycheque each month to buy them,” explained Schoof. “It meant scrimping and saving, but it was a labour of love. So I know how hard it is for students starting out, and I believe we need to support them.”
Born in Windsor Ontario, Schoof moved to the Okanagan in 2002 with his wife, Mary, after retiring from the tool and die industry.
“It’s been wonderful to see how Okanagan College has grown over the past 15 years,” added Schoof. “These students are going to work hard and put so much back into the area.”
To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.