Major expansion for Alberta pipe trades training


The Alberta economy may be slowing down due to low oil prices, but one would never know it at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton. Or perhaps because it is slowing down more people have time for trade training.

“People want to go to school when things slow down a bit,” remarked David Hughes, NAIT, associate chair (special projects), Pipe Trades.

Whatever the reason, eight new classrooms and a new pipe fitting lab at the College’s Patricia Campus in Edmonton’s west end will allow the trade college to increase each intake by 100 apprentices. It can now train about 2,200 pipe trades apprentices per year with 58 instructors. The trades taught include plumber, pipe fitter, gas fitter and there is also a special program for utility workers.

As a result of building the new classrooms, two shops/labs that were previously pressed into service as classrooms can now be used for their intended purpose – hands-on training.

Moveable walls

The new classrooms were completed in August. Some of them have moveable walls. As a result, two sets of three classrooms can be opened up into two large classrooms for 72 apprentices each; the wall between another two classrooms can be retracted to accommodate 48 students.

The 2,600 sq. ft. pipe trades lab was still under construction during P&HVAC’s visit last fall during the CIPH Edmonton Roadshow and was scheduled to be operational in November.

Recent and ongoing renovations also include re-piping the hydronic heating lab and re-doing the water treatment lab. Water treatment is becoming an increasingly important part of the plumbing trade, noted Hughes. Flow meters have been installed throughout the plumbing lab so that apprentices can see the effect of different faucets, flush valves, etc. on water use.

The expansion also includes five new classrooms for the electrical trade. For more information, visit


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