This month, Duncan was in Montreal to accept the Canadian Welding Association (CWA) Foundation’s Exceptional Educator Award in the post-secondary category. Duncan says he felt humbled when he was honoured on the national stage by the Foundation’s Executive Director, Deborah Mates, at the CWA’s CanWeld Conference and Expo.
Perhaps more comfortable in the background, for the past 10 years, Duncan has been coaching students to prepare them for provincial and national Skills competitions. Many students have earned medals and national exposure. More have earned recognition on the job and built a sense of personal pride in their work. Duncan teaches students how to be exceptional in their trade and sets the bar high for himself as well. He models a ‘can-do’ attitude and spends countless hours in the pursuit of excellence.
It started at Cambrian...
Flashback to 38 years ago: Robbie Duncan was a student at Cambrian College, honing his skills as an apprentice. After testing out a few other career avenues, he chose to learn a trade because he always enjoyed working with his hands, alongside his father and uncle. He never imagined he would grow into a nationally-recognized leader in the classroom and in his trade.
An Exceptional Educator
As for earning the Exceptional Educator award from the CWA Foundation, Duncan was initially in disbelief, but says “it’s starting to sink in.” Thinking about how he ended up on stage in Montreal, he explained that:
I didn’t get there on my own. You can’t do it alone. Whenever I had an idea (at Cambrian) someone would find a way to make it happen so that we could make the program better, and make things better for students. It might take a little time, but we make things happen.
Duncan’s dedication to his students, the College, and the community inspires others to help. Over the years he has engaged students in community volunteer projects, including fabricating structures like an observation deck and bridge on the Rotary Trail. He also contributes to applied research projects, supervises apprentices, and serves on the Skills Canada Technical Committee and the Cambrian Foundation Board of Directors. Students and graduates say Duncan inspires them to strive to be the best they can be in their trade and in life.
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