Twelve students from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Recreational Vehicle Service apprenticeship program in Edmonton, Alberta, had the opportunity to display the fruits of their labor at the Calgary RV show last weekend.
The SAIT teardrop trailer attracted “oohs” and “ahhs” from show attendees, and that means it’s doing its job, The Weal, a student newspaper, reported
“A lot of people stop by and say, ‘It’s cute’,” said SAIT instructor Wes Hammermeister. The tiny silver teardrop is sure to attract attention among the 21- to 45-foot RVs on display.
Hammermeister first imagined the teardrop as a flashy way to promote SAIT’s RV service program while teaching students how to build a trailer from the ground up.
“People would pass by and say ‘SAIT’s in Calgary. I’m not going to Calgary’,’” said Hammermeister.
But little did they know that SAIT’s satellite campus in Edmonton was busy training just as many RV apprentices as the main campus in Calgary.
Hammermeister devised a plan to incorporate building a small RV for display use into the program back in 2009, and went to the Recreational Vehicle Dealer’s Association of Canada (RVDA of Canada) for help. The RVDA of Canada funded building materials to get the project started.
“A lot of it came from donations, and a lot of it was somebody else’s money,” said Hammermeister.
The appliances and most of the building supplies were donated from local RV dealerships.
“It literally started from the concrete floor up,” he said. “I had a basic hand-scratched drawing to show the students and made them sit down and figure it out.”
Beyond Hammermeister’s retro-inspired teardrop shape, the students were in control of the design. Students from three classes worked together to finish the project.
The first class built the floor and worked on the electrical and plumbing. The second class built the wall and roof, and the third class worked on finishing touches.
“We did this so they’ll have an idea of what (skills) they’re looking for when they go back to their jobs,” said Hammermeister.
The majority of RV apprentices come to the program with a job to go back to after their training, and are looking to improve their knowledge.
The Teardrop features a standard double bed, outdoor kitchen and is lightweight enough to be pulled by a small car.
Enrollment rates are up at SAIT’s Edmonton campus, and the RV program has seen growth from 8 to 20 students in the past two years.