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Engineering technologists plug in to the business of IT
Okanagan College Media Release 

Troy Berg Feb 2015Information Technology (IT) managers increasingly have the ear of senior management and have a seat at the table when it comes to making strategic decisions to advance a company’s objectives. 

In today’s world, businesses operate on a need-for-speed model and it is the IT team’s responsibility to provide productive, timely, and most importantly connected business solutions. After all, nothing grinds business to a halt as much as Internet service interruptions or not being able to access working files on the network servers.

Kelowna resident Troy Berg graduated four years ago from Okanagan College’s Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology (NTEN) program and currently works as IT Manager for the law firm of Doak Shirreff. “As an IT professional, I see myself as an advocate for and translator of technology to business managers,” he says. “IT can be confusing to those who are not familiar with it. We can use our knowledge to offer creative and proactive solutions on ways to improve productivity, workflow, security, and profitability. A huge part of my job is to make business cases for ways technology can help make businesses run faster and better, and get a calculable return on investment.”

The two-year NTEN diploma program at Okanagan College teaches students the intricacies of technology in three distinct areas of focus: network infrastructure, telecommunication, and client/server administration. Attuned to the business needs of the future, the program incorporates business management courses to help students understand the correlation between IT and business. 

“Certainly a passion for technology and a curiosity for finding out how things work is a must when entering this field of study,” says Phil Ashman, Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “More than simply being ‘techies’, our graduates are engineering technologists who apply their thorough understanding of the sophistication of IT in order to support businesses broadly across industries. They are employed as IT specialists for banks, natural resources companies, government and education institutions, and in Troy’s case a law firm.”

The diploma affords graduates the practical skills to become Computer System Analysts, Cloud and Data Centre Specialists, Network Administrators, Telecommunications Technicians, and IT Integrators and Consultants as examples. Since its launch, 136 students have graduated from the niche NTEN Diploma program. The BC Student Outcomes Survey results for the last five years found that 91 per cent of NTEN graduates are employed, many of which in a variety of organizations throughout the Okanagan.

“The convenience of technology is a part of our everyday life, and as such it’s easy to think we all know IT quite well. It’s the millennial factor,” explains Ron Light, Okanagan College Professor and Chair of the NTEN program. “What we see in our students in their first week of class is how surprised they are to discover the intricate back-end complexities of user technologies.”

As a rule, the easier the technology is for individuals to use, the more complex and bigger the team on the back-end to make it operate smoothly. It’s an unforgiving field of work with no margin of error: it either works or it doesn’t.

“I agree that this is indeed the age of the ‘Internet of Everything’,” says Light. “You cannot run a business today without having an efficient and secure computing infrastructure. From our smart phones and wireless devices that enable us to work remotely, to Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and streaming video for conferencing, to fibre optic connectivity and cloud-based services., these are the tools of business today. The IT department is the architect, mechanic, and occasionally maybe even the magician, that makes it all happen.”

Engineering Week (March 1 to 7) celebrates the engineers and engineering technologists who make things work in our community. Visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/nten for more information about Okanagan College’s program.