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Draftsman's gold medal makes Yukon history

Two weeks after the Skills Canada Competition in Charlottetown, PEI, 17-year-old Yukoner Denis Godin reveals he is still shocked by the outcome of event. Godin won gold, but it came as a surprise.

Two weeks after the Skills Canada Competition in Charlottetown, PEI, 17-year-old Yukoner Denis Godin reveals he is still shocked by the outcome of event.

Godin won gold, but it came as a surprise.

“After they announced silver, I was like no-way, I’m done!” Godin says, recalling the recent awards’ ceremony.

As he relives the experience, a grin stretches across Godin’s face.

So far, he has no physical record of the win. Godin’s camera died shortly before he was called up to the podium to retrieve his gold medal.

Other people probably got some pictures though, says Godin with a shrug.

He may not have a picture, but the event was flashed into the minds of his teammates and supporters in the crowd.

In 11 years of Yukon participation at the annual Skills Canada competition, this was the territory’s very first gold medal.

Watching Godin receive this medal was emotionally overwhelming, says Dan Curtis, executive director of Skills Canada Yukon.

“I was crying like a baby,” says Curtis.

Godin competed in the post-secondary division of mechanical CAD, (computer assisted drafting), and was up against four other competitors, the best of the best from British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

The drafting participants had to compete in four different competitions: part modelling, blueprint reading, assemblies, and parametric modelling. It entailed two competitions per day, each three hours long.

So, what’s mechanical CAD?

You make the model a machinist uses to manufacture the part, says Godin.

“In parametric modelling, you assign two or more different dimensions to a (single) part.”

Parametric modelling is about resizing, Godin explains, you create different configurations of different lengths and thicknesses.

Due to the quality and precision of the diagrams and models the participants created in the four competitions, the medals were distributed on an overall point system.

For years, Godin learned the basics of drafting, first practising simplistic two-dimensional drawings then progressing to more complex models.

Godin learned these fundamentals through the local drafting skills club, one of 96 different skills clubs for the trades in the territory.

“I got my more advanced skills through Quantum,” says Godin, referring to Quantum Machine Works, the local machining business where he received most of his training.

It is because of businesses like Quantum and other Yukon industries willing to offer their expertise that Godin and other Yukoners have been able to do so well, says Curtis.

“The medal count has been astronomical,” says Curtis, “It’s absolutely phenomenal.”

Before the last two Skills Canada Competitions, the Yukon had received 11 medals in nine years.

In the past two years, that medal count has been doubled. At the 2008 Skills Canada Competition in Calgary, five Yukoners made it to the podium, and this year in PEI a whopping six medals were hung around Yukoners’ necks.

Curtis, a self-described optimist, thought the Yukon might get three medals in PEI.

“We got six,” Curtis says clapping his hands together enthusiastically. “It’s logistically impossible. I don’t even think it’s possible to figure out the statistics on a calculator.”

Curtis gives an example: this year British Columbia, a province with a population of more than 3 million people, walked away with only 18 medals, and the Yukon, with a population of only 23,000, was able to win one-third of that.

In the other provinces, all Skills Canada contestants have to compete in multiple provisional competitions before they can attend the actual competition. Trades apprentices are recruited from all different specialized trade schools to compete.

Here in the Yukon, quite often there is not even enough interest in a particular trade to hold a territorial competition, which was the case for Godin.

Curtis shakes his head in awe, “Denis (didn’t) need a lot of support, ‘cause he’s an amazing kid.”

Godin is considering the possibility of teaching a class on mechanical CAD here in the Yukon.

“Maybe I could do it through Skills Canada,” he says.

Godin hasn’t looked into it yet, but he says if he could share this trade and spark interest in other Yukoners, it would be worth it.

Godin says drafting isn’t his main career choice, but that, “it is more of a tool for say, engineering or another of the trades.”

“It’s a great complement to machining, welding and carpentry,” Godin adds.

However, Godin says he plans to pursue a degree in industrial design at the University of Alberta because it is a degree that combines engineering with the arts.

He says he is certain that his passion and experience with drafting will help him in his future pursuits.

“I kind of do it for fun.” Godin says with a smile.

Heidi Loos is a freelance writer

who lives in Whitehorse.