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Passion and talent drive success for young car enthusiast A

t only 17 years of age, Ashley We- ber is already gaining notability in the trade of Motor Vehicle Body

Repairer (Metal and Paint), a career in which women are significantly under- represented. Weber grew up attending classic car

shows with her parents and watching her father repair and refinish vehicles. Over time, she cultivated a passion not only for appreciating and driving cars, but also for repairing, restoring and polishing them. Building on her lifelong interest in au-

tomobiles, Weber elected in grade 10 to take automotive and carpentry classes in addition to her academic schedule. Her instructors immediately recognized her passion and talent. She achieved grades that earned her a place on her school’s honour roll, in both academic and trades- focused classes. In addition to graduating from high

school with honours this past spring, Weber was selected in April to compete in the Skills Manitoba Competition. Tis provincial competition involves nearly 500 high school and post-secondary stu- dents as well as young apprentices, all of whom have been selected from the best in their trade to compete in 42 skilled trades and technology contests. Weber’s exceptional performance at

the provincial level earned her a gold medal. It also earned her a spot on Team Manitoba to participate in the 2015 Skills Canada Compet it ion, a challenging three-day “Olympics” style contest. Te top 500 apprentices and students from across the country meet annually at this event to showcase their skills and engage with training facilities, employers and industry leaders. Team Manitoba

Weber travelled to Regina with Team

Manitoba in May to participate in the 2015 national competition. Once again,

Ashley Weber competed for, and earned gold medal standing in automotive repair and refinishing at the 2015 Skills Canada Competition held in Regina this past May.

U of M students, alumni in spotlight for Rainbow Stage's Sister Act.

UM Today

friends. For vocal performance student


Colleen Furlan, it has been all about lending her summer to Rainbow Stage. Furlan is entering her final year at

the Desautels Faculty of Music this fall. While she was finishing up her July run as Cosette in Les Miserables, she was already rehearsing for her next show: Sister Act(playing August 13-Septem- ber 1 at Kildonan Park). “It’s definitely a lot of work rehears-

ing for one show and performing in the other at the same time,” said Furlan. “But it’s what I like to do and I enjoy every minute of it!” Sister Act, starring Whoopi Gold-

berg, became a box office hit in 1992. Furlan’s first time seeing Sister Act

wasn’t on screen. It was on the stage. “During my time as a contestant on

CBC’s Over Te Rainbow, the produc- ers gave us tickets to see the touring Sister Act show in Toronto. Prior to this, I had never seen the story.” When Furlan learned of Rainbow Stage performing Sister

Act, she began studying the characters, watching the movie and learning the songs. Her hard work paid off: It landed her the role of Sister

Mary Robert. “Sister Mary Robert is a quiet, meek woman,” said Furlan.

“She doesn’t like a lot of attention put on her, and she doesn’t know anything about life outside the convent until Sister Deloris comes in.” Te show features a cast of upbeat nuns who, by the

show’s finale, learn how to dance, clap and sing with joy. One of the nuns in the ensemble is University of Manitoba

alumna, Paula Potosky. Potosky is no stranger to Rainbow Stage. She performed

September 2015

Desautels faculty of music student Colleen Furlan as Sister Mary Robert in Rainbow Stage’s Sister Act. Photo by Chris Reid

or some students, summer break means relaxing, taking a vaca- t ion or catching up with old

last month as Fantine in Les Misera- bles and starred as the title character in Mary Poppins in 2013, among other appearances. Potosky says being in the en-

semble can bring just as many challenges to the stage as having a principle role. “Playing in the ensemble requires

multiple costume changes and being quick on your feet to be in the right place at the right time,” said Potosky. At times, actors leave the stage if

only for a few moments and change into a completely different ward- robe. “It can definitely bring you physi-

cal fatigue but I’m living a dream and am doing what I love to do on stage,” said Potosky. “I left a career in school teaching to pursue a career on stage. It has been a fun adventure!” Potosky graduated from the U

of M in 2004 with her Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Music. She credits her time on campus for getting her to where she is today.

“Te U of M’s musical theatre and vocal training was

amazing,” said Potosky. “Working two shows back to back over the summer requires you to use your voice night after night. Classes at the university taught me how to sustain my voice for long periods of time, and make sure I sing in a healthy manner.” Tere are more connections to the U of M in Sister Act: • Donna Fletcher [B.Mus(Perf)/89] is playing Mother

Superior. • Joanne Parker Gibson [BEd/74, CertEd/68, BPE/67] is

playing Mary Teresa. • Ross McMillan [MA/92, BA/96] plays Monsignor. • David Fox, who trained out of the Black Hole Theatre

Company, plays TJ. • Aaron Hutton BMus(Perf)/11 and Brenda Gorlick (guest professor at the U of M) are in the ensemble. By Jerrad Peters

she demonstrated exceptional talent in her chosen trade by placing first at the national level. “As they announced the gold medal re-

sult, the first word I heard was ‘Manitoba,’ says Weber. “After that came the words ‘Ashley Weber’ and I was so shocked I couldn’t find it in me to get up from my seat and go to my place on the podium.” In addition to her success in the 2015

skills competitions, Ashley received the Kildonan East Collegiate Auto Body Award of Excellence in 2013, 2014 and 2015. To add to her list of achievements, Ashley was also the recipient of the Motor Vehicle Industry of Manitoba Scholarship in both 2014 and 2015. Weber says she is excited to start her

post-secondary training and career. ”While I was in high school, I worked a term position at Urban Autobody to gain on-the-job experience in automotive re- pair and refinishing,” she says. When the term position ended, she was immediately offered a full-time job. According to Weber – the only female

employee in the shop where she works – her employer and co-workers are support- ive and encouraging. “I go to work every day with a smile on my face, excited to see what new challenges will come my way.” Apprenticeship programs consist of

about 80 per cent on-the-job training and 20 per cent in-school technical training. While she is also vastly outnumbered by male counterparts in the technical train- ing portion of her apprenticeship, Weber feels confident she has made the right career choice. “I’m so grateful for all the support I get

from my family, friends, instructors and employer,” she says. “I’m also grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I’m good at and love to do.” To find out more about the skilled trades, visit

Impressive finish at RoboCup

By Eric Postma, UM Today S

ome day the world may be overrun by automatons, but for now the brightest human brains in the world are busy programming robots to play soccer.

In July 2015 researchers from the University of Mani-

toba partnered with a team from Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT) in Tehran, Iran to create a robot soccer team that competed in RoboCup. With more than 2000 participants from around the world, RoboCup is the larg- est and most prestigious competition for intelligent soccer robots. Tis year’s competition took place in Heifei, China from July 13 to 23. Te AUT-UofM team competed in the Humanoid League

Teen Size competition (two players, max 1.4 metres high), and won an impressive third place in the soccer competi- tion. Te team lost their semi-final match to Team Parand from Iran, the new world champion. “Te Iranian team focused on the hardware and the U of

M team focused on the software,” said John Anderson, head of the department of computer science. “Collaboration with a team with a very different cultural background proved both challenging, but also interesting for all involved.” Te team also achieved an excellent second place in the

technical challenge competition behind team NTUST Teen from NTUST, Taiwan. Te technical challenge is an event to challenge particular player skills, similar to a combine in human soccer, football or hockey. Tis year the techni- cal challenge involved push recovery (a robot being able to remain on its feet after being pushed), goal kicks from a moving ball, high kicks and high jumps. “Participating in the Teen size league is more difficult

in our experience than using a team with smaller robots, as the larger robots are more challenging to control and power, and physically transporting the robots also becomes an issue,” said Anderson. Te U of M side of the team consisted of the following

researchers and students: Amirhossein Hosseinmemar, Chris Iverach-Brereton, Brittany Postnikoff, Dewin White, Jamillo Santos, Kiral Poon, John Anderson and Jacky Bal- tes. Santos, Poon and Baltes represented the U of M side of the team in Heifei for the tournament. Funding for team travel comes in part from the Faculty of Science and the Department of Computer Science, to which the team is very grateful.

Smart Biz 13

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