Robots, Cows and Trades Training in the Fraser Valley

UFV’s Harv McCullough was recently featured in an article by BC Jobs Plan.

Read the full article below.

Robots, Cows and Trades Training in the Fraser Valley

Harv McCullough jokes that although he started with a trade certification, his real education came from the school of hard knocks.

“People shouldn’t have to go through the same process I had to go through to get to where I am,” says Harv, the former Dean of Trades and Technology and current Vice President – External at the University of the Fraser Valley.  “These young folks have an opportunity to get that education now while they’re young.  They don’t have to make the mistakes that I made, and should be able to go up the ladder faster than I have.”

After 33 years with the post-secondary institution, Harv knows the value of an education in the trades, particularly in relation to the agriculture industry.  UFV students come from all over the Fraser Valley, and many take their skills right back into B.C.’s agricultural belt, where they’re moving the industry into the future.

“We’re going to see much more food production happening in the Fraser Valley, and that becomes a whole process of preparing it, meeting the health and safety regulations, the shipping, the logistics of handling it,” says Harv.  “I think there’s a huge opportunity there.”

And it’s not just traditional agriculture – there’s a new wave of technology and innovation happening at progressive farms.   Harv describes wireless radio transmitters attached to the legs of cows that monitor their movement and help to identify animals with health issues.  The transmitters also track milking patterns and the overall output of the cattle.

Another useful technology is robotic milking parlours, where a cow comes in at a certain time and the milking machines automatically attach to the animal’s teats.

“All the electronics that are required for the technology being used in that industry – they’re just the tip of the iceberg,” says Harv.

UFV’s task now is to dovetail traditional agriculture and culinary programs with less traditional technology programs to help BC stay ahead of the pack.  They’ll be supported, in part, by one-time funding of $10 million that was announced by the Ministry of Advanced Education to support skills training.  This funding will be directed across the province, but part of it will go to UFV where it will help support the future of the agriculture industry.

These innovative programs will provide new and exciting opportunities for students looking to work in the agriculture industry – and there’s no better time to be at UFV.  “This is all new for us,” notes Harv. “And we’re right in the lead for this.”

How this story connects to the BC Jobs Plan:

  • A skilled workforce is one of two foundations of the BC Jobs Plan, ensuring our skills and training programs are leading the way to opportunities for tomorrow.
  • Agrifoods is one of the eight sectors identified by the BC Jobs Plan as critical to BC’s growth.  The training provided by UFV will help keep our province competitive in this sector.
  • Harv mentions shipping and handling logistics, key factors in the success of the agrifoods industry.  Getting goods to market – and getting our food products to customers around the world – is one of the pillars of the BC Jobs Plan.

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