Previous Posts(10)
Business students prepare to head east for prominent case competition
Horizon Electric lights up Okanagan College with trades complex donation
College graduates answer school district’s needs
College brings its renowned Culinary program to Revelstoke
College hosts session on combining construction program and green building project
Acclaimed biologist promotes public appreciation for insects
College’s Vernon Aerospace Campus hosts open house
Donor hopes new trades building will inspire students to think green
3-Hour writing contest underway this weekend
Red Seal of approval – it’s Apprenticeship Recognition Week
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Business students prepare to head east for prominent case competition
Okanagan College Media Release

Jessica Lenz Nov 2015Jessica Lenz is hopeful that she can once again help her team bring home a gold medal from the prestigious Queen’s University Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) when she heads to Kingston, Ont., in January with seven fellow Okanagan College School of Business students.

Lenz, a fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration Honours student, and her teammate Karen Vandergaag, have earned a finalist spot in the finance division of the longest-running Canadian undergraduate case competition. Okanagan College teams also qualified in the debate, management of information systems, and marketing disciplines. Last year, Lenz’s accounting team earned the top spot.

“Whether it’s your first time, or second or third, ultimately, you are representing your school,” said Lenz. “Making it twice to the competition I think is proof of the quality of education I’ve received at Okanagan College. It distinctly shows that I didn’t just memorize and pass exams; it’s a demonstration of how the knowledge we gain is applicable to the real world.”

Having the previous year’s experience is a competitive advantage in knowing what to expect in terms of time management pressures, judging format, and the types of questions that could be asked.

At the finals, students will be given five hours to review the complex business case within their designated field and prepare a 15-minute presentation for the judging panel, which is comprised of Queen’s professors and senior management professionals from Canada’s largest corporations. No electronic resources are allowed, however, teams can use all the textbooks they had the foresight to bring with them.

“My suitcase is going to be 90 per cent textbooks, it gets a bit heavy,” Lenz remarks.

“It will be different than last year; while accounting and finance are both numbers based, finance is a bit more of a grey area, relying on making a judgment call,” she said. “You have to make the decision and then be accountable in proving why that is the right financial decision to make.”

That’s where the training received from coach and Professor Derek Cook comes into play. In their Applied Corporate Finance class the students studied real life case examples to learn about capital decisions (to buy or not to buy), financing by debt or share issue, and mergers and acquisitions.

While the technical knowledge is important, Lenz is quick to point out that in her opinion the three most critical skills to success at the I.C.B.C. are: written and verbal communication to effectively present and get your point across to the judging panel, analysis to demonstrate understanding of what the numbers mean, and a big-picture outlook as to the impact the decision will have looking at the years ahead for the company and the effect on other corporate departments.

“I congratulate all the students who displayed tremendous effort during the preliminary round,” said Dr. Barry McGillivray, Associate Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business. “The competition at every stage is a wonderful learning experience for them to test their competency at a very sophisticated level. Our students have shown outstanding quality of knowledge, and we are very proud.”

In total 15 Okanagan College students competed in the preliminary round with seven teams submitting case analyses in a pool that included more than 100 teams from post-secondary institutions across Canada and the world. Okanagan College student teams competing in the I.C.B.C. finals on Jan. 14-16 at Queen’s University are:
  • · Finance: Jessica Lenz and Karen Vandergaag (professor coach Derek Cook)
  • · Marketing: Megan Whittingham and Nicole Arbuthnot (professor coach Alan Rice)
  • · Management of Information Systems: Ariel Richards and Jesse Tate (professor coach Glen Coulthard)
  • · Debate: Two additional students (professor coach David Cram)

For more information about the competition, visit

Horizon Electric lights up Okanagan College with trades complex donation

Horizon Electric photo, releaseThe future looks bright for the next generation of electricians in the Okanagan thanks to a major boost from a local contractor that will help the College amp up a cutting edge lab for trades training.

Staff from Horizon Electric joined students and employees of Okanagan College to celebrate the announcement of the company’s donation of $100,000 toward the new Trades Training Complex under construction at the Kelowna campus.

“Having a state-of-the-art facility like this in our own backyard is so beneficial to our industry and our community,” says Horizon Electric President Jerry Pasitney.

“This new complex will attract people to the region, keep jobs local and provide the skilled workers needed in the Okanagan and throughout the province. As a local family-owned company we are very proud to be able to support that.”

Students in the Electrician program will have access to three new electrical controls labs when the complex opens in the spring of 2016; both will feature the latest equipment, technology, and workstations specifically geared for electricians.

“From top to bottom our new trades training facilities are being designed, built, and outfitted with a great deal of input from our industry partners,” says Okanagan College’s Vice President Education Dr. Andrew Hay. “We are very grateful to Horizon Electric for supporting our vision to create a dynamic, new learning environment for trades students.”

Launched in 2006, the Electrician program is the largest program in the College’s Trades portfolio with more than 500 FTE (full-time equivalent) enrolments in 2014-15, and is one of the fastest growing trades programs in the province.

The arrival of the new electrical labs next spring will be timely for the College and for students, given the projected demand for electricians in the region.

Over the next seven years, it is expected that the Thompson Okanagan will need more than 1,000 new electricians. Provincially, the government has identified electricians as one of the top trades-sector jobs over the next decade, along with heavy duty mechanics.

The 10,000 sq. metre $33-million renovation project includes a new three-storey tower along K.L.O. Road, along with upgrades to existing shops. Overall, the College has set the goal of meeting LEED Platinum standards for the new trades facilities. Earlier this year The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus became the first building of its size in the Okanagan to become LEED Platinum Certified.

As an added benefit of the new space and facilities, the College will also be able to bring back to campus more than 700 students currently training at leased facilities on Acland and Penno Road.

“When the new complex opens it will allow us to bring our Kelowna trades students together in a world-class facility,” explains Hay.

“Community support, as we are witnessing here today from Horizon Electric, is helping us strengthen the bond of community among our students; this is yet another way our donors and industry partners are helping the College build for the future.”

The Okanagan College Foundation is endeavouring to raise $7 million – including $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support – to top up the Provincial Government’s $28-million investment.

More information about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to support students is available at

Horizon Electric is a family-run electrical contractor based in Kelowna employing more than 100 people locally. The company has worked on numerous large scale commercial and residential projects, including recent renovations and expansions for Interior Health, and provides services to many small businesses and individual home owners.

College graduates answer school district’s needs
Okanagan College Media Release

North Okanagan Shuswap School District #83 is anticipating a significant number of retirements in the next couple of years, and graduates of Okanagan College’s Education Assistant (EA) program will be ready to meet the community’s needs.

“We’re at a point in time now where we have a significant percentage of our support staff at retirement age,” says Nora Kennett, District Administrator – Student Services SD #83. “Of course, we can never predict exactly when people will choose to retire – as each employee’s situation and choices are different – but it is safe to say that we will be looking to fill this gap in the next couple years.”

Kennett should know – she not only organizes practicums for students with the school district, but also sits on the College’s program advisory committee and is an instructor.

“I really value the link between Okanagan College and the school district,” says Kennett. “This connection allows the College and the District to dialogue around important course content and what practical experiences these students should have to be successful in the role they will play in schools. The students are learning what they need to be successful graduates and the school district is ultimately able to hire employees who have the knowledge and skill set to support our most vulnerable learners.”

Okanagan College’s Education Assistant certificate prepares graduates to work in the classroom with children with diverse and unique learning needs, including physical, cognitive and/or behavioural challenges. The program is a total of nine months and includes a 120-hour practicum, during which time students are each placed in a school where they work alongside CEAs (Certified Education Assistants), teachers and learning resource teachers to practice and hone their skills.

“The practicum is as important as the classroom content,” says Kennett. “Students have an opportunity to see the actual workings of a school and learn precisely what the role of a CEA is.”

This experience gives the College students the opportunity to put into action what they have been learning in the classroom and allows students to practice two main themes of the program: reflection and teamwork.

“During the practicum, students are encouraged to reflect – to examine whether or not certain strategies worked and develop thoughts on how they could do things differently next time,” says Kennett. “A school is a dynamic place and practicum students need to have the ability to be flexible and to quickly shift and change directions when needed, all within a team context.”

Kennett says that although most Education Assistant graduates do go on to jobs within the school system, others have found employment within community agencies, such as the Shuswap Children’s Association. With graduates eligible to apply for their Early Childhood Educator Assistant license
, some have chosen to take on roles in daycare and preschool settings. And others choose to work as behavioural interventionists focusing on supporting children on the autism spectrum.

“What’s interesting,” says Kennett, “is that in every class I teach – without fail – students remark on how the learning from this course about supporting and caring for others would be spectacular for everybody to know. Many tell me that they take home what they’ve learned and reflect on how to use the strategies with their own kids and family.”

Okanagan College’s Education Assistant certificate program is now accepting applications for a program start date of Jan. 5, 2016 at the Salmon Arm campus. For more information, call 250-804-8888, email or go online to
College brings its renowned Culinary program to Revelstoke
Okanagan College Media Release

Casavant and Maw Nov. 2015Aggressive growth in the tourism and hospitality sector has created a demand for skilled workers in Revelstoke’s culinary industry, as a result, Okanagan College will offer its Professional Cook Level One program in February to prepare the chefs of tomorrow for the in-demand jobs of today.

The 20-week program, which is currently accepting applications, will be offered in partnership with School District 19 and the City of Revelstoke. Senior Secondary school students and mature students, or anyone who is 19 years of age or has been out of Secondary school for at least one year, are eligible to enrol. Secondary students who take the program will acquire Level One technical training credit, as well as credit that counts toward their Grade 12 graduation.  

“Our community has experienced a significant increase in the number of tourists who visit us each year,” said Alan Mason, Director of Community Economic Development for the Revelstoke area. “We have seen hotel room revenues increase by 35 per cent since 2008 and we estimate the tourism sector has grown to make up 16 per cent of the city’s base employment income. We need to ensure we have the skilled work force we need to accommodate this growth and one area where we anticipate strong demand for employment is in the culinary sector.”

Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts program begins with Professional Cook Level One, which is the first of three apprenticeship training levels required to become a Red Seal Chef. 

“We are really excited to bring our Culinary Arts program to Revelstoke in the New Year,” said Chef Bernard Casavant, Culinary Manager at Okanagan College. “It’s a great opportunity for anyone with a passion and interest for food to learn from our skilled instructor without having to travel to another community for a professional culinary education. I know first-hand the value of a certified Red Seal trade and have benefitted from a rewarding and challenging career as an executive chef.”

Okanagan College’s Professional Cook One program will begin on Feb. 1 and will run for 20 weeks from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Revelstoke Community Centre.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the program, entrance requirements or application process can attend a free information night on Monday, Nov. 23 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Revelstoke Community Centre. 

College hosts session on combining construction program and green building project

Res Con 7Would-be builders and carpenters have a chance on Nov. 23 to find out more about a course next spring that will take them onto the jobsite of tomorrow as Okanagan College instructors and students help to construct one of the most energy efficient homes in the region.
The College’s Trades Department is hosting an information session at 5 p.m. on the evening of Nov. 23 to showcase a Residential Construction program that will see students working side-by-side with a local homebuilder to construct two homes in the Wilden subdivision in Kelowna.
Students who sign up for the College’s Residential Construction program in February will have a unique opportunity to hone their skills through a unique research project designed to study how new building technologies can translate to energy savings for homeowners.
The 26-week course will introduce students to all aspects of the construction trades, including familiarization with the latest building materials and installation techniques. Graduates will receive Level 1 technical training credit and credit for 450 work-based hours toward completion of the Carpenter Level 1 apprenticeship program.
As part of the building project, two single-family “Living Laboratory” homes will be constructed on lots provided by Wilden developer Blenk Development Corporation. The first home will be built to current building code, while the second will be designed and built to push the envelope and achieve next-level energy efficiency through the use of a number of emerging sustainable building technologies.
Students from the Residential Construction program will work with local builder AuthenTech Homes to install the latest energy efficient technologies into the second home. Researchers from UBCO’s School of Engineering will then monitor and compare the energy use of both homes over the next three years and report their findings.
“We are very excited to see the contributions the students will make, both on the construction side and the technology side,” says Scott Tyerman, President of AuthenTech Homes. “At the end of the day, there is potential to gain some major insights into how homebuilders and homeowners can get the most out of these new technologies.”
“These students are the future of our industry,” adds Russ Foster, President of Blenk Development Corporation and Wilden’s Project Manager. “We feel it is important to work with the College and UBCO to ensure that students have meaningful opportunities to build their skills and put their knowledge to work.”
While the technology involved may be new, the project builds on over a decade of community partnerships for Okanagan College’s Residential Construction program.

To date, students have contributed to nearly 50 building projects like this throughout the valley, with the College’s Trades Department always on the lookout for new opportunities for students to gain practical experience in the construction workplace.
“This project is exciting because it will give our students the hands-on training of building homes, as well as the chance to explore and implement the latest green building technologies and techniques,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.
“The practical experience of being on the jobsite for a very high-end build like this, and receiving mentorship from a builder like AuthenTech homes, is so valuable for students. We are very grateful to the builder and the developer for giving our students this opportunity.”
The info session will take place on Nov. 23 at 5 p.m. in room T137, Okanagan College Kelowna Campus, 1000 KLO Road. Space is limited and those interested are asked to RSVP to Nancy Ankerstein, Program Administrator for Trades and Apprenticeship by email:
Design and preparation for the build is underway. Construction on the homes is expected to begin next spring.
The Residential Construction program is offered at the College’s Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, and Salmon Arm campuses.

Acclaimed biologist promotes public appreciation for insects

Jeremy McNeilHave little critters been giving you the creepy crawlies? In an effort to shift your perspective towards insects, Dr. Jeremy McNeil, Biology Professor at Western University, will make the case about their crucial role in the planet’s ecosystem when he visits Okanagan College’s Vernon campus later this month.

McNeil encountered the knee-jerk fear reaction towards insects first hand when he showed his neighbours’ seven-year-old son a hornworm caterpillar from his garden. The young boy stared for a minute and then squashed it in the palm of his hand. When McNeil asked why he did that, the boy replied "Insects are not nice.”

This interaction sparked nearly four decades of public outreach, where McNeil has attempted not only to educate the public about insects (and hopefully reduce insecticide use) but also to instill a real appreciation for the natural world around us.  

Part of the Science in Society Speaker Series, his public talk titled Are humans really smarter than insects? will take place on Tuesday Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the College’s Vernon campus lecture theatre.  

In this talk, McNeil will draw comparisons between insects and humans to establish the fascinating common ground we share, such as making paper, building solar panels, as well as how both species apply the same physics principles used in snorkeling and scuba diving.

With a teaching career spanning over 40 years, McNeil alongside students and collaborators has published more than 180 papers in primary international journals and more than 10 book chapters. He has received many national and international awards (including the prestigious Humboldt Prize), is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and this year he was named to the Order of Canada for his work in studying the reproductive biology in insects and for his dedication to increasing public appreciation of science.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets, please call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. For more information, visit

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Best Western Vernon Lodge, Starbucks Coffee, Cooper’s Food, and the Vernon Morning Star.

College’s Vernon Aerospace Campus hosts open house

AircraftThose interested in learning more about careers in aviation will have a chance on Nov. 14 to tour Okanagan College’s Vernon Aerospace Campus and speak with instructors and students about program opportunities and two big new additions to the College’s fleet.
Okanagan College recently received two donated aircraft for training purposes in Vernon – a Jetstream 31 from the Swanberg family of Alberta and a Metroliner II from Carson Air in Kelowna. Guests of the open house will have an opportunity to tour the aircraft and learn more about how they will be utilized in the program.
The College offers a 62-week Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) M-License apprenticeship program in partnership with Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.
The program is designed to take a student with little or no previous experience in the aircraft maintenance trade and supply him/her with the necessary skills to seek employment in that industry as an apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.
“Having recently received about $1 million in aircraft for training purposes it’s a very exciting time for our program and this campus,” says Dale Martell, Chair of the AME program. “We know the aviation industry is facing a very real shortage of AMEs in the coming years, similar to the shortage predicted for commercial pilots, so this is a great time to be stepping into this career.”
Guests will also have an opportunity to learn about the College’s two-year Commercial Aviation diploma program, offered through Okanagan College’s School of Business, which conducts pilot training out of the Southern Interior Flight Center at the Kelowna Airport.
Globally, Boeing has projected there will be call for 584,000 maintenance technicians over the next 20 years, making it one of the most in-demand occupations in the aviation industry, just ahead of the estimated need for 533,000 commercial pilots in the same time period.
“The open house will be a chance for anyone interested in becoming an AME to learn about how the program is delivered through the College and how they can get started,” adds Martell.
The open house will take place on Saturday, Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. until noon at the Vernon Aerospace Campus, 6225 Okanagan Landing Rd. in Vernon. The event is free and no RVSP is necessary. For more information, please contact Dale Martell, AME program Chair,

Donor hopes new trades building will inspire students to think green
Okanagan College Media Release

Patrick Waunch Rambow Nov 2015A local business leader and volunteer for the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign is supporting the College’s efforts to go green with its new trades training facilities.

Rambow Mechanical Ltd., led by President Patrick Waunch, has donated $50,000 to support the construction of a
classroom in the new $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre complex currently under renovation and expansion along KLO Road.

Waunch began volunteering his time in support of the fundraising campaign long before its official launch last October, and feels strongly that local industry should support the College’s efforts to train the next wave of tradespeople in B.C.

“I believe it’s incredibly important that we invest in the skilled tradespeople of tomorrow,” says Waunch, whose company currently employs five Okanagan College-trained apprentices. “The future of the construction industry looks extremely positive over the next 15 years, so training new apprentices to fill the workforce is going to be imperative.

“This new facility is going to be a great asset to students who want to make a future for themselves in this industry.”

With a skills shortage among trades and technical workers that could see call for 160,000 new skilled workers in the province by 2022, the College set out last year to proactively upgrade its facilities. Support from local business has been encouraging.

“It sends a powerful message to our students and to our surrounding communities when local employers invest in education,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are grateful to Rambow Mechanical for this generous donation and to Patrick Waunch personally, for championing the project in his sector.”

Rambow Mechanical is one of the contractors engaged in the complex’s construction. The company previously provided mechanical systems services for The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the Penticton campus, the first building of its size in the region to achieve LEED Platinum certification (which the College is once again aiming for with this new facility).

Slated for a spring 2016 opening, the new complex in Kelowna is expected to accommodate more than 2,600 students per year. The added space of the new three-story tower will allow the College to bring students back to campus who are currently training at leased facilities off-campus.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this renovation and expansion project is the fact that it will allow the College to unite our trades students and provide them with a completely modern and sustainable facility,” explains Hamilton.

Waunch says he hopes the building’s sustainable design will inspire students to think about the role they will play in implementing and advancing new building technologies as future tradespeople.

“Our industry is based on new technology that is constantly changing and becoming more environmentally friendly. I couldn’t think of a better place than this innovative new facility to train the creative minds that will lead our industry into the future.”

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign is seeking to raise $7 million by next spring to support the College in completing the project. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit  
3-Hour writing contest underway this weekend
Okanagan College Media Release

Talk to any writer and they will tell you that the process of writing, editing and rewriting is one that is unique to every person. Some writers need absolute silence, an antique typewriter and a pair of perfectly worn-in and well-loved slippers on their feet before the prose can flow. Others seek out busy coffee shops, the newest MacBook Air and double espressos.

Okanagan College’s English department is challenging budding writers to cast aside the comfort of their own writing environments and test their focus and creativity in a 3-Hour Short Story contest taking place on Saturday, Nov. 7 at all four campuses.

The contest is
open to students in Grade 11 and 12, and those attending Okanagan College. Participating writers will not only be challenged with a time constraint all stories must be written in a designated location within a three-hour time period but they’ll also have to find a way to incorporate a “secret phrase” that won’t be revealed until the moment the contest begins.

For Joe Dermo, regional winner of the 2011 contest, the competition allowed him to develop his free writing skills and provided him with an introduction to the greater writing community. His story “Bank Robber” earned him first prize in the Kelowna contest and along with it, a $250 tuition credit to help him complete his Associate of Arts degree at the College.

“The 3-Hour Short Story competition was the first writing contest I had ever entered,” said Dermo. “It was really beneficial to me at that time because I can be a harsh critic on my own writing through my editing process. In the competition you don’t have time for editing and re-writing so it’s a great way to learn how to let whatever is in your mind spill out.”

Dermo says the contest pushed him outside of his comfort zone and exposed him to other writers.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities for young writers to get involved in the writing community and it’s so important to put yourself out there and learn to be judged. Of course, for the winners, it’s extra special because of the prize, but that’s just a bonus.”

Dermo, who is now a player support representative and editorial contributor at Disney Interactive, isn’t the only former participant who sees value in the 3-Hour Short Story competition. Cole Mash participated in the contest when he was a creative writing student at Okanagan College and has taken when he learned with him in his master’s studies in creative writing.

“At the time I participated, I had taken writing classes and workshops but had never done anything like the Short Story Contest,” explains Mash. “It was great because there was no anxiety about editing, you just don’t have time. The contest allows you focus on just telling the story you are going to tell.”

Mash says writing in a different environment was also valuable.

“It was definitely a challenge to write in different space – no quill at your desk. It’s important though, just to get out in the community and engage with other writers.”

The 3-Hour Short Story Contest takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the College’s Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton campuses. Writers will work on College computers and will not be able to access any pre-written material or anything online.

Four prizes of a $250 tuition credit will be handed out – one for each campus winner. The grand prize winner will be chosen from those four and receive an additional $250 tuition credit as well as have their story published in a limited fine-print edition by the Kalamalka Press.

This popular contest is free but can only accommodate a limited number of entrants, so interested scribes are encouraged to register early. Deadline for entry is 12 p.m. on Friday,
Nov. 6.

Visit to sign up.
Red Seal of approval – it’s Apprenticeship Recognition Week
Okanagan College Media Release

The B.C. government has proclaimed this as B.C. Apprenticeship Recognition Week and there are few places in the province where the role of apprentices is more obvious than at Okanagan College, B.C.’s second-largest trades training institution.

“This week we have 310 apprentices in class at the College,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Think about the impact they have and the role they play in our economy as they finish their studies and return to work.”

One of the many places they are working is at the College itself. An example is Tyler Tetlock, a journeyman carpenter who is helping the College build for the future.

“Okanagan College helped prepare me for my career, so I’m very proud to help build a space where thousands of others will train towards a career in the trades,” explains Tetlock, who is an Assistant Superintendent for PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc., the company spearheading construction of the new Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus.

When doors open next spring, the new complex along KLO Road will provide room for more than 2,600 students to train each year—including the approximately 1,500 who will pursue Red Seal Apprentice-level training.

In addition to acknowledging current students and alumni, the College also wants to salute another key player in the apprenticeship process next week—employers. 

“The participation of employers is crucial to apprenticeship,” says the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “We are very grateful to all of the businesses and individuals that hire and endorse our apprentices and are supportive of the apprenticeship process.”


Another alumnus helping the College build for a bright future for trades in the Okanagan is fellow carpenter Chuck Cullen, a Project Manager for TEAM Construction. For several years now Cullen has delivered spotlight sessions at local high schools about career paths in the trades.

“My apprenticeship training at Okanagan College was very valuable,” says Cullen. “So I’m proud to share my positive experience with young people who are considering their options for trades training.”

Between now and 2024, the province forecasts job openings for 2,346 carpenters in the Thompson Okanagan region alone. The estimates suggest there will be job openings for nearly 2,200 cooks, chefs, and bakers in the region. Overall, there is call for more than 10,750 tradespeople in professions that Okanagan College teaches in the region in the same period.

Last year, the provincial government proclaimed Nov. 7 as B.C.’s inaugural Apprenticeship Recognition Day to help raise awareness of the importance of developing a highly trained and skilled workforce amid a projected labour shortage in the trades sector over the next decade.

The proclamation has been expanded this year, with the government calling for a full week (November 2-6) recognizing the positive impact that apprentices have on individuals, businesses, and the economy in B.C. Read the full proclamation

More information about the College’s Apprenticeship and Foundation (Pre-Apprenticeship) training programs is available at

Balancing campus life and sport no ordinary feat for Special Olympics athlete
Okanagan College Media Release

Janeka GreifWith 18 medals adorning her neck representing five years competing in provincial, national, and international track and field events, 21-year-old Kelowna resident Jeneka Greif has defied the odds. The latest in her hardware collection are a silver and a bronze earned at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles this summer.

Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy as a baby, doctors had prepared Greif’s parents for the probability that their daughter would never be able to walk, and likely never speak. Not one to give up, she has proven the contrary.

Like many students this fall Greif is back on campus with a focus on a career beyond competition. She is in the midst of earning a Preparing for Access to Careers and Education (PACE) certificate from Okanagan College’s Adult Special Education department.

“Right now, I want to focus on my education and on my future,” says Greif. “Definitely something in sports, maybe in personal training or in nutrition. I needed to bring focus to my life, and I was inspired to come to Okanagan College where I could be set on that path. Taking the PACE program is a first step.”

The PACE program aims to develop student success skills with a focus on career awareness and the development of appropriate workplace attitudes, values, and behaviours. Students like Greif develop communication, time management, stress management, and conflict resolution skills that will support them in the pursuit of jobs and continued education.

“Special Olympic athletes can compete right up into their senior years,” explains Greif. “The way I see it, taking a few years off right now to get an education, that’s most important. I started the sport five years ago, so I know that with the right training schedule I’ll be able to get back into it, but now is the time to build a career.”

Janeka Greif shot putTraining for the Special Olympics World Games had Greif in the gym six days a week, two hours a day. She describes competing on the international stage as an incredible experience and the chance of a lifetime. During the two weeks spent in L.A. as one of 114 Canadian athletes (22 on the track and field team) she also attended an L.A. Angels baseball game, walked in the opening and closing ceremonies, and met pop superstar Justin Bieber.

“What was most inspiring though was meeting the athletes from different countries,” she says. “It made me realize how fortunate we are in Canada for the resources we have available to us as athletes with special needs, from healthcare to equipment, that enable us to practice our sport.”

The silver Greif earned was in the 4x100m relay where she was the anchor, and she earned a bronze in shot put.

“These games were definitely more challenging, with more countries, and more levels to compete against. But what I’ve learned is that if you set your mind to it, you can achieve it.”

This is the same perspective Greif is applying to her studies at the College. After the PACE program, she hopes to continue on to obtain a Supported Access to Modified Education (SAME) certificate.

K-HUB at Career Fair to spark innovation
Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan’s first Makerspace Business Incubator, K-HUB, is looking for the people and ideas that will spark light-bulb types into creating, innovating and manufacturing new products and services and they’ll be on hand at Okanagan College on Sunday, Nov. 1 as part of the 34
th annual Career Fair.

“We are a one-stop-shop for individuals with business and product ideas and we are really looking forward to connecting with the community at the College’s Career Fair this weekend,” said Lisa Jeffrey, Assistant Executive Director at K-HUB. “The concept of a Makerspace is fairly new to this area and we are one of the first of our kind to spring up in B.C. so we want to let people know what we do, what we can offer and how they can utilize our space and expertise to help launch their ideas in a real way.”

K-HUB will officially open its doors in Kelowna in January. Those doors lead to 4,500 square-feet of office and shop space that is available for rent for anyone who is looking to test and develop their ideas or prototypes. The space includes access to high-end manufacturing equipment that ranges from woodworking tools to 3-D printers to CNC machines.

The company also offers “101-style” workshops and business services that range from marketing to branding, allowing innovators to take their ideas all the way from concept to product and delivery.

“We are really excited to be in Kelowna and at Career Fair to showcase who we are and what we do,” said Jeffrey. “It will provide us with access to a valuable and important part of our client base – students, instructors and members of the community. We’re looking forward to collaborating with them and telling them about who we are and how we can help launch their ideas. It’s also a great opportunity for us to listen and understand what the needs of our Maker community are.”

K-HUB is just one of more than 30 exhibitors who will be at Career Fair on Sunday connecting with the community, and in many cases, hiring.

Career Fair also provides the community with access to the College and its programs. Tours of the campus, Trades facilities, labs and kitchens will be offered throughout the event, which is free and runs from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Kelowna campus.

Anyone interested in finding out about career opportunities or learning more about the education and training needed to springboard into a new career should visit the campus.

A series of special presentations on financing your education, preparing to apply and strategies on finding a job are just a few of the highlights from exhibitors.

Anyone interested in applying for a program at Okanagan College can start the process while at Career Fair and will have the application fee waived. The College will also draw for a $500 tuition waiver for those who enter at the event.

Find out more online:
PCL helping Okanagan College build the future of trades training
Okanagan College Media Release

PCL Oct 2015The construction company overseeing the renovation and expansion of Okanagan College’s new trades training facilities has made a major donation to support the College’s efforts to elevate the learning environment for tradespeople.

PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. (PCL) has pledged $75,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the new Trades Training Complex at the College’s Kelowna campus.

“Okanagan College is a leader in producing qualified skilled tradespeople for our province and our country,” says Todd Craigen, PCL’s Vice President and District Manager for the B.C. Region. “These tradespeople are on the frontlines of jobsites everyday building the projects that PCL is renowned for across North America.”

“We continue to hear from government and from our industry partners that the province could be facing a significant skills shortage across the trades and technical sector over the next decade,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“With more than 160,000 new job openings projected in the trades in B.C. by 2022, this new facility will allow us to continue to build the Okanagan as a hub for trades training, which is timely for the province and beneficial for our regional economy. More than 40 per cent of our trades students come from outside of the Okanagan.”

Over the past year, 1,926 full-time equivalent students enrolled in foundation or apprenticeship training at the Kelowna campus in 2014-15. The new complex will be able to accommodate more than 2,600 students per year.

This project marks the third major construction project that PCL has partnered with the College on since 2006, when construction began on the LEED Gold certified Centre for Learning at the Kelowna campus.

Following that project, PCL completed The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation at the Penticton campus in 2011. Since then, the building has received numerous accolades for its innovative design and construction, including being recognized earlier this year as the first building of its size in B.C. to achieve LEED Platinum certification. PCL made a $100,000 donation to the fundraising campaign for the project, along with a $10,000 gift in support of the College’s Sustainable Construction Management Technology diploma program in Penticton.

The $75,000 pledge toward the Bright Horizons campaign brings the company’s total gift to the College to $185,000 to date. PCL is also a long-term sponsor of the Okanagan College Foundation’s annual Charity Golf Tournament, the proceeds of which benefit students.

“On behalf of Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation, I would like to thank PCL for making yet another significant investment in our students and in our infrastructure,” says Foundation Executive Director Kathy Butler. “The fact that Okanagan College graduates are working for PCL on this very project, only steps from where they trained, makes PCL’s support for the campaign all the more meaningful.”

Helping the College advance learning environments for trades students was a natural fit, notes Craigen, given that PCL counts numerous Okanagan College graduates among the more than 10,000 tradespeople employed by its family of companies.

“These people are the backbone of our industry,” he says. “Without qualified skilled trades people, we would not have a successful business.”

The College has set ambitious goals for the Trades Training Complex: aiming to build one of the greenest buildings of its kind in North America by meeting LEED Platinum standards, net-zero energy usage, and carbon neutrality. Doors are slated to open next spring.

The Okanagan College Foundation launched the Bright Horizons fundraising campaign in October of last year with the goal of raising $7 million in capital and program/student support for the project, to top up the Provincial Government’s $28-million investment.

Conservationist provides rare look into the Great Bear Rainforest coastal waters
Okanagan College Media Release

The coastal waters of the Great Bear Rainforest
in British Columbia contain more than 1,000 uninhabited islands and are one of the planet’s most ecologically rich marine environments. Stretching 21 million acres from Vancouver Island to Southeast Alaska, the area includes the largest coastal temperate rainforest on earth and is globally renowned for its astonishing biodiversity.Ian McAllister Oct 2015

Based on his summer 2015 expedition, long-time Great Bear Rainforest resident Ian McAllister will describe his efforts to generate a more complete picture of the B.C coast from both below and above the water. This will be presented in a public talk,
Where the ocean meets the rainforest: exploring Canada's Great Bear Rainforest on Monday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus lecture theatre.

“British Columbia’s offshore world is as real as the mountains we climb and the rivers we swim in, but not nearly as familiar,” says the acclaimed photographer and co-founder and Executive Director of the wildlife conservation organization Pacific Wild.

Using advanced filming techniques, McAllister and his team have captured some of the lesser known stories of right whale dolphins, blue sharks, salmon sharks and studied their relationship to the waters of what is now known as the Great Bear Sea of the central and north coast of British Columbia. McAllister has described this experience as “the most spectacular display of aquatic ballet I could ever imagine,” and hopes through the sharing of spectacular photography, videography and storytelling, he can continue to inspire others to protect this precious region.

An award-winning photographer and author of six books including
Great Bear Wild, McAllister’s images have appeared in publications around the world. He has been honoured by the Globe & Mail as one of 133 highly accomplished Canadians, and he and his wife, Karen McAllister, were named by Time magazine as "Leaders of the 21st Century" for their efforts to protect British Columbia's endangered rainforest. He is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers and has won the North America Nature Photography Association's Vision Award and the Rainforest Action Network's Rainforest Hero award.

Where the ocean meets the rainforest
is presented in collaboration with Pacific Wild, and is part of the Science in Society Speaker Series (a joint project by Okanagan Science Centre and the Okanagan College), which is sponsored by the Best Western Vernon Lodge, Cooper’s Foods, Starbucks Coffee, and the Vernon Morning Star.

Admission is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For tickets, call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. To subscribe or obtain more information about the Science in Society Speaker Series, visit

Carson Air donation expands Okanagan College training fleet
Okanagan College Media Release

Kevin Hillierand Dale Keegstra Oct 2015A local aviation company has touched down with its second major donation to Okanagan College in as many months.

Carson Air has donated a Metroliner II aircraft to the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME) M-License program; the company estimates the value of the aircraft at approximately $300,000. The aircraft landed at the Vernon Airport on October 16, welcomed by students, instructors, and Okanagan College employees outside the College’s Aerospace hangar adjacent to the runway.

“This aircraft has served Carson Air very well and we are proud to see it put to use as a training tool at Okanagan College,” says Carson Air’s Vice President of Operations Kevin Hillier. “We’ve hired numerous graduates of the College’s AME program over the years, so in a way, we are supporting the future of our industry and our company with this donation.”

Little more than a month ago, on September 19, Carson Air announced a donation of $125,000 to support the purchase of a flight simulator for the Commercial Aviation program in Kelowna.

“Support from industry plays a vital role in the College’s ability to provide high quality training experiences,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We sincerely appreciate Carson Air’s investment in our students, Canada’s future aircraft maintenance engineers and aviators, through these very generous donations.”

“A gift like this from Carson Air, a local employer of our graduates and mentor to our apprentices, speaks volumes to their commitment to education in the region.”

Built in 1980 in San Antonio Texas, the Metroliner II saw service with two US regional airlines before being imported to Canada in 1994 when it was converted to haul cargo.AME Oct 2015

Nearly 60 feet in length and with a wingspan to match, the 19-passenger, twin-engine turboprop has been part of Carson Air’s fleet since 1998.

The plane’s arrival in Vernon from Carson Air’s hangar in Kelowna marked the final flight for the aircraft, after more than 35,000 hours in the air over Canada and the U.S. (approximately 14,000 of which under Carson Air’s banner).

While the aircraft’s time in commercial service may be over, its utility as a teaching tool will go on for years, says AME Program Lead and Acting Chair Dale Martell.

“It will be utilized primarily for structures and electrical training,” says Martell. “Electrical is one of the most challenging areas facing AME students, and so the hands-on experience they can get by working on an aircraft of this complexity is invaluable.”

Also upping the excitement factor for students: the fact that the
aircraft was still in active service only days before it landed at the College.

“The more types of aircraft we work on, the greater depth of experience we gain,” says AME student Ashley LaPointe. “This gives us pure experience on an aircraft we’ll definitely encounter out in the industry, which is very beneficial.”

Earlier this month, the College also received a Jetstream 31 aircraft from the Swanberg family of Grande Prairie & Fort St. John; that aircraft was valued at nearly $700,000, putting the total in-kind value of aircraft received by the College in 2015 at approximately $1 million (estimated).

Through the AME M- and S-License programs offered in Kelowna and Vernon, the College instructs students on structures, electrical, and mechanical maintenance of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters and welcomes donations of aircraft and components.

More information about the AME program is available at
Audition call for College theatre troupe’s annual stage production
Okanagan College Media Release

Holy stage fright, Batman! Okanagan College’s Red Dot Players theatre troupe is seeking actors to perform in its sixth annual theatrical production, the comic book comedy
A.K.A. Fangirl. Auditions will be held Nov. 4, 6, and 8 at the Kelowna campus lecture theatre.AKA Fangirl

This will be the inaugural stage production of
A.K.A. Fangirl, which was written by playwright and Okanagan College English Professor Jeremy Beaulne. Uniquely, Beaulne will also direct the play.

“I'm a bit nervous about directing my own play. Ideally, a director should have some distance from the material being directed,” says Beaulne. “At the same time, I'm excited at the prospect of tackling some of the directorial challenges I built into the script.”

He points to an example on the first page of
A.K.A. Fangirl’s script, where a character levitates. “I'm looking forward to finding out how exactly we’ll achieve that effect!”

Blurring the lines between reality and a world of comic superheroes, the play focuses on protagonist Nichelle O’Neil, a high school student and aspiring comic book creator. During her adventures at Fanaconda Fest, a science fiction convention, her world is juxtaposed with the adventures of the Midnight Sentinels, the superhero characters she has conjured for the graphic novel she is writing.

The play is seeking nine actors: five men and four women, with most of the actors playing more than one role. For a detailed character list and an audition schedule, visit Evening and weekend rehearsals will commence in January 2016, and public performances will be in March. Actors must be a minimum of 17 years old, and roles are on a volunteer basis.

Those interested in auditioning can email Jeremy Beaulne at to book an audition time. Actors will not be required to memorize any material prior to their auditions.

In addition to seeking actors, the production is seeking volunteers for the crew, including a stage manager, a costume coordinator, a prop coordinator, a sound designer, and a set designer.

The Red Dot Players is a theatre troupe for Okanagan College students, alumni, employees and community members and is based at the Kelowna campus. Previous productions include
The Beaux' Stratagem (2011), Blithe Spirit (2012), Les Belles-Soeurs (2013), The Government Inspector (2014), and The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon (2015). This year’s production, A.K.A. Fangirl, won “Best Full-Length Play” in Theatre BC’s 2014 Provincial Playwriting Competition. 
Inspiring inquisitive minds: upcoming OC Speaker Series events in Penticton
Okanagan College Media Release

Currently underway, the Okanagan College Speakers Series in Penticton is piquing curious minds, encouraging public dialogue and highlighting research and innovation in our midst.

Penticton CampusFrom now through to December the public is invited to attend six scheduled talks. The presenting speakers will address a spectrum of interests including: uncovering the darkest corners of space, how GPS technology can help gauge sport performance even indoors, financial planning and the stock market, and demystifying the idea of a born criminal.

On Oct. 26 Rob St. Onge, the College’s Energy Manager will present “Living Building Challenge – Lessons Learned.”

Earlier this year the College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation at the Penticton campus was awarded the prestigious LEED Platinum designation from the Canada Green Building Council. The next step is the Living Building Challenge standard, which is based not only on construction but also the ongoing green-energy performance of the building.

St. Onge will discuss the victories, and challenges, the College is experiencing as it continues to grow and how the institution is using the Living Building Challenge standards as a guide in its quest towards sustainability.

The Speaker Series takes place on Monday evenings at the Penticton campus lecture theatre from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is by donation, benefitting the College’s Emergency Student Bursary program. Parking on campus is complimentary for the events.

Upcoming speaker series events:
  • Oct. 19: Dr. Sheilagh Seaton, Business Professor at Okanagan College, “The Canadian Centre for Business Growth – C2BG – on the Penticton Campus”
  • Oct. 26: Rob St. Onge, Energy Manager at Okanagan College, “Living Building Challenge – Lessons Learned”
  • Nov. 2: Dr. Ken Tapping, Astronomer at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, “Puzzling Pluto”
  • Nov. 16: Scott McMillan, CEO of XCo, “Wearables: Indoor GPS and the Future of Health Care and Sport Technology”
  • Nov. 23: Jacinta Jay, Financial Advisor at Edward Jones, “Take Stock in the Market”
  • Dec. 7: Jarkko Jalava, Criminology Professor at Okanagan College “The Myth of the Born Criminal”

For a complete list of speakers and detailed topic descriptions visit:

Keldon Electric gives OC Trades Complex campaign a boost, amps up new classroom
Okanagan College Media Release

With the demand for electricians projected to surge in Western Canada, a local electrical services contractor is helping Okanagan College power up a dynamic new classroom space.Keldon Electric Oct 2015

Keldon Electric and Data Ltd. has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizons fundraising campaign for the
Trades Training Complex under construction at the Kelowna campus. The donation will assist the College in constructing and outfitting a classroom geared towards training electricians and other skilled tradespeople.

“Keldon Electric and Data Ltd. feel privileged to support a facility where the majority of our workers are trained,” says Keldon Electric President Brian Yamaoka. “The College is a proven training facility that continually puts out skilled workers.”

Elevating the learning environment is part of the College’s thrust to continue to advance trades training in B.C., says Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores.

“New technologies and techniques are always emerging and so we adapt the training to reflect changes across the sector,” says Moores. “From top to bottom, the vision behind the new complex is to elevate trades training and provide students with learning environments that prepare them for the jobsites of tomorrow.”

Keldon Electric’s support of the project is timely. Last year, the Provincial Government released a report highlighting electrical trades as one of the key fields in the sector—along with heavy equipment operators and heavy duty equipment mechanics—that will require new skilled workers over the next seven years.

“With baby boomer retirements looming, it is anticipated there will be continued demand for electricians, and so we are excited to have a top-of-the-line new facility to train the next wave of skilled workers needed in the province,” adds Moores.

The College launched the Electrician program in 2006, which is now one of the fastest growing trades programs in the province. In the last five years alone, the College has graduated 2273 full-time equivalent foundation (pre-apprentice) and Red Seal apprentice electricians.

General Manager Jarret Yamaoka says having electrical trades training available locally has and will continue to help Keldon Electric attract new talent.

“We pride ourselves in having an above average workforce, and recognize that having a new state-of-the-art facility can only help in drawing outside talent to this region.”

Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Kathy Butler notes that donors in the community are playing a critical role in helping the Foundation raise the funds necessary to top up the Provincial Government’s $28-million commitment for the $33-million project.

“We are so grateful to Keldon Electric and all of the donors who have stepped forward to support the Bright Horizons campaign,” says Butler. “The investments being made in our students’ futures by industry and by individuals in the community are timely and are going to have an immense impact.”

The Foundation is aiming to raise $7 million, including $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support.

Overall, the new complex and upgrades to existing shops and classrooms represent a 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion. The College has set the goal of meeting LEED Platinum standards and achieving net zero energy usage for the project.

More information about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to support students is available at
Foodies take note: Infusions ends corkage fee on Okanagan wines
Okanagan College Media Release

A new menu and a new feature are key ingredients in a revamped fine dining experience that awaits foodies eager to test the creations of the Okanagan’s next culinary stars.

Okanagan College’s Infusions Restaurant – open to the public during the day Tuesday to Friday for breakfast and lunch and evenings on Thursday and Friday – showcases the work of students in the Culinary Arts department, shepherded by Chef Stuart Klassen and the Culinary Arts Department Manager, Chef Bernard Casavant.

A new development for the restaurant, located in the heart of the Kelowna campus, is an end to corkage fees on Okanagan wines. That means diners can bring in their own bottle and not be charged.

“Our goal is to entice diners and provide our students with the opportunity to prepare and serve quality meals,” explains Jonathan Rouse, the College’s Director of Food, Wine and Tourism. “Okanagan wines are a focal point for our programs, and we thought that eliminating corkage fees on the area’s product would be a way to support the industry, while at the same time providing our patrons another reason to visit Infusions.”

Rouse is quick to point out that diners don’t have to bring their own wine. “We still have a growing list of Okanagan-area wines that are available for purchase.”

The fall menu is a mouth-watering temptation, from a range of appetizers that includes a smoked duck and confit crepinette ($8, which is accompanied by a plum chutney, farm greens, yam chips and a cherry gastrique) to main courses that run through meat, fish and vegetarian choices (contemplate a sterling spring chicken breast - $20 - that comes with cranberry sage sausage, fall squash risotto, a loose parsley pesto, roast beets and rainbow carrots).

Dessert? Consider a local apple tart ($6), that is built around a honey-thyme crust, served with vanilla pastry cream, caramel sauce, an apple gel and cinnamon-spiced mascarpone.

Reservations for Infusions are recommended – you can call
250-862-5455 or email
Debbie Robert joins Okanagan College Foundation Board
Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Foundation is pleased to announce that Debbie Robert has joined its board as a new director.

Robert now resides in Kelowna after calling Fort McMurray home for 32 years. She and her husband Leo are retired co-owners of L. Robert Enterprises Ltd., a heavy equipment rental/repair business based out of that region that employs more than 400 people.

Previously, Robert was appointed and served on the Keyano College Board of Governors for a six year term, and upon completion chaired the Keyano College Foundation Board of Directors for a further six years.

“Okanagan College plays such an important role in education and training throughout the valley. I look forward to joining the Foundation board to assist with current and future developments that will enhance the student experience,” says Robert.

Robert is an active supporter of Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation. She is currently serving as Northern Projects Sector Chair for the Foundation’s Bright Horizons, Building for Skills fundraising campaign which is seeking to raise $7 million for the new Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus.

Harding Award for Engineering motivates local student to reach for robotics career
Okanagan College Media Release

Matthew McCann was teaching English in Brazil when an unforgettable moment in the classroom inspired him to re-engineer his career path and trade the role of teacher for student.Matthew McCann Sept 2015

“Many of my students were engineers who were looking to improve their English,” McCann says. “One day, I was just struck by their passion for their work. I realized that the projects they were working on in their communities really appealed to me. Their energy sparked my journey into Engineering.”

Two years later, after completing the Electronic Engineering Technology Program (ELEN) at Okanagan College, McCann got another jolt of inspiration when he learned he had been selected to receive the Yvonne and Norman Harding Award for Engineering.

Valued at $5,000, the award is the largest given out annually by the Okanagan College Foundation and is intended to assist students bridging the ELEN program to a university Engineering Degree Program.

For McCann completing the ELEN program means he can enter the third year of Electrical Engineering at the University of Victoria. Receiving the award has meant that he can complete the year without having to worry about finances.

“This award definitely takes a big load off my mind,” he explains. “But even greater is the motivational factor—the fact that Yvonne and Norman Harding have made this incredible investment in my future is very validating for me. It will push me to work as hard as I can.

“I hope in future I can give back and change somebody’s life like these generous donors have changed mine.”

McCann must now choose which field of specialization within Electrical Engineering he will pursue, noting a strong pull towards robotics.

“I can definitely see myself working in that field,” he says. It’s exciting. There are new innovations every day and it’s something that has the potential to change the world.”

Norman Harding earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from UBC after serving in World War II. He enjoyed a long and successful career in Engineering, working with Bell Telephone in Montreal and Computing Devices of Canada in Ottawa; his wife Yvonne also worked for Bell and taught technology to adult students.

The Hardings retired to Penticton in 1994. They established the Harding Award for Engineering in 2007 through a donation of more than $100,000 to Okanagan College.

The creation of the award marked the first but not the last generous gift made by the Hardings in support of students at Okanagan College. In 2010, they gave $30,000 to support the creation of the Women's Resource Centre at The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Penticton. Yvonne passed away in 2010.

“It is always amazing to hear from recipients like Matthew about what they hope to achieve in the future and how this award will help them on their way,” says Norman Harding. “Yvonne would be very pleased that this award is making a difference in their lives.

“Our family is touched by the gratitude of the students. We are delighted that the award has always been thankfully received.”

“We are so appreciative of the generosity and the thoughtfulness shown by Yvonne and Norman Harding in establishing this award nearly a decade ago,” says Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Kathy Butler. “As we can see in in the case of this year’s recipient, Matthew McCann, it continues to inspire students to reach for the stars and get the most out of their education.”

More information about the ELEN program and the Yvonne and Norman Harding Award for Engineering is available on Okanagan College’s website
Single largest equipment donation in College’s history lands in Vernon
Okanagan College Media Release

Jetstream Donation Oct 2015A world-class aircraft donated to Okanagan College for training purposes was unveiled today during a ceremony at the Vernon Aerospace campus. The donation marks the most valuable gift of equipment the College has received in its 50-plus-year history.

The British Aerospace Model Jetstream 31, valued at nearly $700,000 was donated by the Swanberg family of Grande Prairie & Fort St. John, in memory of Sylvan and Dorothy Swanberg. Their son Loran was joined by family members to announce the donation in support of the College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME) M-License program, which trains students in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

“Our family is very proud to be able to support the next generation of Aircraft Maintenance Engineers,” says Swanberg. “Continuous education and hands-on training is so important in the aviation industry.

“We are delighted that this aircraft, donated in honour of my parents, has found a wonderful home at Okanagan College, where it will inspire and enrich the learning experience for students for years to come.”

Swanberg presented the keys to the aircraft to Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, who noted that the value of the aircraft as a teaching tool far exceeded any dollar value that could be ascribed to the plane.

“This gift will enrich the training experience for our students for years to come,” said Hamilton. “On behalf of Okanagan College, I want to express our sincere gratitude to the Swanberg family for this support.”

In accordance with Transport Canada regulations, the Jetstream was disassembled in Calgary and shipped by truck to its new home at the College’s AME hangar in Vernon for reassembly. Students were included in the reassembly process and are already at work on maintenance projects on the aircraft.

With baby-boomer retirements looming and a serious shortage of aircraft mechanics on the horizon, Hamilton says the College is working with industry partners to be proactive in addressing skills shortages.

“We know we are facing a shortage of aircraft mechanics,” explains Hamilton. “Boeing has projected a need for 584,000 maintenance technicians globally over the next 20 years. Support like this gift plays an integral role in Okanagan College’s efforts to train the skilled workers our province and country needs.”

Sylvan Swanberg’s career in the transport industry spanned more than 50 years. He founded Swanberg Air in Grande Prairie, AB, in 2000. The company offered cargo, scheduled and charter passenger services in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia for 11 years. A decision was made to cease operations after Swanberg passed away in April 2011; his wife Dorothy passed away in June 2012.Jetstream Donation Keys Oct 2015

The family has previously donated aircraft to three other post-secondary institutions in Canada, including Jetstream 31s to Red River College in Winnipeg, and Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek, and a 601 Challenger to SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary.

There is another unique connection between the Jetstreams at Northern Lights and Okanagan College, notes Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

“It’s all the more special that our students will have a chance to work on a Swanberg Jetstream here at the College, and they’ll see another when they head up to Dawson Creek to complete their training,” says Moores.

AME students train for 48 weeks at the College’s hangar in Vernon and then complete the final 14 weeks of the program at Northern Lights College.

“We hope that link resonates with the students,” adds Swanberg. “Our family is very excited about the legacy behind these aircraft and the connection between them. These donations are meant to celebrate and carry on my parents’ strong belief in higher education and lifelong learning.”

More information about the AME program is available at
Ben Klick’s new EP hits a high note: College to host public CD release party
Okanagan College Media Release

Ben Klick Sept 2015When rising country music star Ben Klick’s second extended play (EP)
Today dropped on Sept. 15 it only took two days to climb the iTunes country album download chart, landing at #37.

“To be up there with Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, the big names who are all over the radio, and my personal idols in country music, was extremely humbling,” said West Kelowna resident Klick.

In celebration of his new six-track recording, the public is invited to a family-friendly CD release party at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus lecture theatre on Saturday Oct. 10. Fans, family, and friends will meet and mingle with Klick during the pre-reception starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a live performance of the new tracks at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door, and kids under 12 are free to attend.

An Okanagan College Audio Engineering and Music Production certificate program alumnus, Klick made the conscious choice to host the event at the College.

“The instructors and staff at the College have taught me a lot, given me a lot. I wanted to give back to the College in some way,” shares Klick.

He adds that hosting the event over the Thanksgiving weekend is also a way of saying thank you to all those who have supported him in the pursuit of his childhood dream. A dream conjured after attending a Shania Twain concert at the age of four and being mesmerized by the guitar player on stage.

Following in the footsteps of country music legends Klick headed to a recording studio in music city Nashville to record his new tracks. There, he found that the hands on training he received at the College proved valuable.Ben Klick CD Cover Sept 2015

“As an artist it’s important to find a unique tone. Certainly I put a lot of trust in my producers, but I’m grateful that they gave me the freedom to be the artist that I am,” says Klick, who wanted to be involved in the business of his own career from the get-go.

“Because of the skills I learned at the College, I could go in the studio and give direction, using proper terminology. I understood the technology and that helped make the creation of this EP something I had a big hand in. It definitely made the whole process very professional and collaborative.” 

Balancing out the technical knowledge, on the creative side Klick finds inspiration all around him for his songs that are diverse in order to appeal to a wide variety of folks.

“I hear stories and it sparks something in me, it inspires the songs.”

As an example, the new track
Off Road (the EP’s first radio release) was inspired by a friend Klick made at the College.

“Back in class after a weekend, she was passionately telling me about having gone off-roading. It’s a pretty popular thing to do in the Okanagan I hear. It struck a chord, I called my co-writer and we got to work,” shares Klick. He adds that the friend who inspired the song doesn’t know, yet, about her influence in creating this track.

Copies of
Today will be available for purchase at the Oct. 10 event for $10 which Klick will sign during the pre-reception. Fellow country artist Danielle Marie from Vancouver will also play an acoustic set of her own music prior to Klick taking the stage.

Klick’s music career is kicking into high gear. He is nominated for five 2015 BC Country Music Association Awards, including the Mike Norman All Star Band Guitar Player of the Year award. On the heels of the CD release Klick and his band will go on tour with dates already booked in Vancouver and Kamloops, and sights set on touring across Vancouver Island and Alberta. For tour information and updates visit
Fall Enrolments up at Okanagan College, 11th year of exceeding targets in sight
Okanagan College Media Release

Fall enrolment numbers are showing that Okanagan College is headed for an 11
th straight year of exceeding government targets for student enrolment.

Information from mid-September—when the deadline has passed for students to register for most academic programs and courses—indicated an overall increase in student numbers of about 5.9 per cent: 6,967 in 2015 compared to 6,577 in 2014. That includes students registered in degree, diploma and certificate programs, as well as those registered in trades, vocational and upgrading programs.

Helping fuel that number is a significant growth in international student numbers (although international student enrolments don’t count toward government targets): September enrolments show an increase of more than 20 per cent, with 534 students from 50 different countries at OC’s campuses (predominantly Kelowna).

It’s important to note that the mid-September numbers tell only part of the year’s story for Okanagan College. There are trades, vocational, and continuing studies programs that commence at different times through the fall and into January and early 2016. The complete enrolment picture won’t be known until well into the spring of 2016.

In 2014-15, Okanagan College reported exceeding government targets for funded student spaces by six per cent. In each of the 10 years since the split of OUC in 2005, the school has surpassed government-set targets.

The fall enrolment numbers for this year show the institution may achieve the same sort of performance.

Each of Okanagan College’s four major campuses showed growth from last fall to this fall, with Salmon Arm reporting 5.2 per cent growth (16 additional students, total 319 in 2015), Kelowna with 7.6 per cent (327 more students, total 4,622), Penticton with 2.8 per cent (793 up from 771) and Vernon showing 1.8 per cent growth (783 in 2015, up from 769 last year at the same time).

Significant growth was seen in the College’s business portfolio, with combined academic and vocational programs showing a 7.8 per cent growth (1,821 students compared to 1,689 in 2014). There was also notable growth in the College’s technology programs, including computer information systems: total enrolment in that area grew by 10 per cent, from 461 in 2014 to 509 in 2015.

Enrolment in the trades area, including foundation-level and apprenticeship programs, has also shown seven per cent growth year-over-year, to 780 students as of Sept. 19. In 2014-15, Okanagan College was the second largest trades training institution in the province.

$25,000 in scholarships to celebrate 10 years of giving
Okanagan College Media Release

Corrie Knapp Sept 2015Ten South Okanagan students will receive a boost to their college fund next spring thanks to the generosity of two local donors whose award fund has provided more than $125,000 in scholarships at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan over the past 10 years.

“Given that 2016 will mark the 10th year of awards from the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarship Fund, we wanted to do something special for students of the region,” says donor Rick Thorpe.

The Thorpes have announced 10 scholarships, valued at $2,500 each, will be awarded to qualified students enrolling in first-year studies at Okanagan College in 2016.

Since the fund was established in 2006, more than $70,000 has been awarded to 30 recipients at Okanagan College.
The Thorpes have also established numerous awards for students entering or continuing studies at UBC Okanagan where students have received more than $55,000 in awards.

“Looking back over the last 10 years, we are reminded of so many wonderful interactions with students,” says Yasmin Thorpe. “It is always such a pleasure to meet the recipients, hear their goals for the future, and share their in excitement.”

“Yasmin and I feel very strongly about supporting our local students,” adds Rick Thorpe. “Seeing this fund help young people follow their dreams of higher education has been incredibly meaningful to us.”

The Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarships assists students who are a graduate of, or will be graduating from, a secondary school located on the west side of Okanagan Lake, from Penticton to Killiney Beach, registering in full
time studies at the College. The award also supports students already enrolled at the College who are continuing their studies. Recipients must be undertaking courses in business, viticulture, agriculture, engineering, tourism/hospitality, trades, technologies, English or creative writing, science, and nursing.

Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Kathy Butler says many students have reached out over the years to express their thanks and to share how receiving a Thorpe & Friends Scholarship has helped them.

“The sheer gratitude expressed by the recipients, in the form of thank-you letters, emails, photos, and video messages for the Thorpes, is a testament to the impact these awards have had, and will continue to have,” says Butler.

One student on which the award has had a tremendous impact is nursing student Corrie Knapp.

“It made all the difference in the world to me,” says Knapp, who is currently entering her second year of nursing at the College. “It came at a time when I was unsure how I was going to pay for school and manage other bills.

“When the cheque arrived, it was an incredible feeling of relief—I can’t even put it into words how helpful and inspiring it was.”

After this year, Knapp plans to complete the final two years of her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at UBC Okanagan. She hopes one day to put her skills to work in developing countries.

The Thorpes are longtime supporters of Okanagan College. In 2011, both served as Honorary Chairs of the $5-million fundraising campaign behind the construction of the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the Penticton campus; the Thorpes personally committed $50,000 to the project. Yasmin was named an Honorary Fellow of the College in 2012.

The application deadline for the 2016 Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarships will be March 4, 2016. Students are encouraged to review the application guidelines at or for more information.