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College to host 22nd Annual Aboriginal Career Fair on May 5
Rick Gee recognized by College for Distinguished Service
Local business helps College gives trades students a warm welcome
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College to host 22nd Annual Aboriginal Career Fair on May 5
Okanagan College Media Release

Hundreds of Aboriginal high school students from throughout the B.C. Interior will converge on Okanagan College on Thursday, May 5 to explore a vast array of post-secondary and employment opportunities.

Aboriginal Career Fair May 2016The 22nd annual Aboriginal Career Fair will take place from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Centre for Learning at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on KLO Road. The event is a partnership between Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan, the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, and Westbank First Nation. Students will have a chance to connect with more than 30 exhibitors, including representatives from colleges and universities, and employers in finance, trades, agriculture, health, technology, and other sectors.

“Opportunities like this are an excellent way for Aboriginal students to explore their options for post-secondary, and to learn about employers’ expectations in regard to education and training,” says Okanagan College Vice President of Students Charlotte Kushner.  

More than 300 students are expected to attend. For schools and employers, the career fair is an opportunity to initiate connections with a key demographic for recruitment. Provincial data indicates that Aboriginal peoples are one of the fastest growing populations in B.C.

Okanagan College has witnessed significant growth in Aboriginal student enrolment in recent years. In 2015, the College delivered educational programming to over 1,500 Aboriginal students, more than three times the number that attended a decade prior in 2005-06.

“Working With, and Learning From, the Indigenous Community is one of the five key directions for the College, as outlined in our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan,” explains Kushner. “We value every opportunity like this to collaborate with local school districts, First Nation bands, Aboriginal organizations and industry, to inspire and open doors to post-secondary for Aboriginal students.”

Exhibitor spots are still available. Educators or school administrators interested in having students participate are requested to register in advance. To learn more and to register, visit

Lunch will be provided by students and faculty from Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts program. 

Rick Gee recognized by College for Distinguished Service
Okanagan College Media Release

A retired employee who assembled an impressive career that spanned 30 years and five days will be recognized by Okanagan College with the Distinguished Service award at the College’s Summer Convocation ceremony on June 29 in Kelowna.Rick Gee

Rick Gee, former Chair of Okanagan College’s Education Council and longtime professor of Computer Science, has left an indelible mark on the institution’s curriculum and program development after dedicating more than three decades to supporting students and enhancing academic standards.

President Jim Hamilton, whose career with the College began just five year prior to Gee’s, recalls him as a cornerstone of the institution.

“Rick’s contribution to Okanagan College has been immense,” says Hamilton. “His name was synonymous with Education Council and in that role he became the keeper of educational quality in programming. He has done much to build the institution’s reputation for academic excellence.”

Gee joined the College on July 26, 1985 as a College Professor of Computer Science. Throughout his tenure at the College he served as department chair on three separate occasions, contributing 17 years altogether in the role.

He was elected to the College’s Education Council, the body that is responsible for setting curriculum content, academic standards and policies, eventually becoming Chair in 2008.

Gee was responsible for the development of two degree programs during his time at Okanagan College and Okanagan University College, the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems and the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He was also the 2013 recipient of the Career Achievement award at the College’s Employee Excellence recognition ceremony.

With 30 years of experiences to reflect upon, Gee says his most memorable moments at the College occurred in the classroom.

“My favourite part was the teaching,” says Gee. “Seeing the light bulbs go on is something that brought me a lot of joy. I also worked with some very interesting and intelligent people over the years.”

In addition to his scholarly contributions Gee was a longtime volunteer and supporter of initiatives like the College’s Career Fair. He dedicated his personal time to support the College community at events such as the annual Clean the Creek, wading in the murky waters of Fascieux Creek at the Kelowna campus to remove garbage and waste.

Gee retired on July 31, 2015. Those who knew him well remember him as a meticulous editor and someone who could advocate on behalf of a comma with an unmatched passion.

“Rick was a stickler for detail, punctuation, grammar and consistency who also had the ability to focus on the big picture of student success,” says Dianne Crommer, who worked beside Gee on Education Council for many years. “Outside of his contributions to the College, he is also a tireless volunteer in the community and is someone who did a lot of great work, much of it very quietly and on his own time.”

Gee is an active member and current president of the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club and the director responsible for snowshoeing for the Kelowna Nordic Ski Club. He also volunteers with the NatureKids Kelowna. He dedicates his time to leading people on snowshoeing adventures.

“Rick was very committed to the College and had students at the heart of everything he did,” said Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “He was often the driving force on committees to ensure that ideas came to fruition and his many contributions will be long standing.”

Local business helps College gives trades students a warm welcome
Okanagan College Media Release

Coast Appliances Donation May 2016As Okanagan College welcomed students and staff to its new Trades Training Complex last week, a donation of equipment from a local appliance dealer helped ensure it was a warm welcome. 

Coast Wholesale Appliances Inc. has donated microwaves to power up kitchenette stations throughout the new three-storey tower at the Kelowna campus. Construction on the building completed on Mar. 31. Over the past three weeks, more than 700 students training at satellite campuses on Acland and Penno Rd. transitioned to their new home at the KLO campus.

“We are very proud and excited to contribute to the student experience at Okanagan College,” says Robert Siddon, General Manager for Coast Wholesale Appliances in Kelowna. “The trades are connected to our business, and so many others in the Okanagan, and so having a world-class training facility here benefits us all.”

Siddon says it was important to Coast Appliances that students know the valley’s businesses are behind them, which is why the company has also provided a tool credit to assist a student in purchasing tools.  

Coast Appliances joins a growing number of individuals and organizations in the community who have stepped up to help the College enhance student spaces like food service and study areas in the building.

Our goal with this renovation and expansion is to provide a world-class facility that truly celebrates the trades and celebrates our students,” says Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “We are very grateful for the depth of community support for that vision. Local industry and individuals are sending a message to our students that they have chosen an important and valued field in the trades.”

Community support has brought the Okanagan College Foundation within $1 million of its $7-million goal for the Bright Horizons, Building for Skills fundraising campaign in support of the project. The Foundation is aiming to raise $5-million for capital construction and $2-million for program and student support, to top up the provincial government’s $28-million investment. To date, the campaign has raised more than $6.2 million.

Last week’s welcome event for students and employees was a soft opening for the building. An official grand opening is slated for the fall.

In the meantime, College officials will continue to put the finishing touches on the new complex over the summer, including landscaping, signage, and activation of the building’s solar panels (when completed, the roof will have the second-largest solar array of any non-utility building in the province, behind only the The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus).

More information about the Bright Horizons campaign and opportunities to get involved is available at

Eleven trips to the podium for OC students at Skills BC competition
Okanagan College Media Release

Three Okanagan College students are on their way to Moncton, NB to competeAST at Skills April 2016 in the Skills Canada National competition following their gold medal wins at the provincial competition, which was held in Abbotsford on April 13. The three gold medalists were joined on the podium by an additional eight students who earned four silver and four bronze medals for the College in categories that ranged from Aerospace Technology and Carpentry, to Culinary Arts.

Okanagan College was the best in B.C. in the areas of Electronics, Aerospace Technology and Automotive Service. Second-year student Zachary Andrews won gold in the Electronics category. Spencer Humphries, a first-year student in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering M License program, won in Aerospace Technology and Aaron Schmidt, a level 4 apprentice, led the College to gold in Automotive Service. He was one of three Okanagan College apprentices who finished in the top three in the province – OC swept the automotive category.  

Automotive Service instructor Jamie Bloomfield said he was extremely proud of the efforts of his students, who he referred to as the dream team.

“Each one of our students took the competition preparation and practices very seriously,” he said. “They had great attitudes and were very motivated. During the competition they shook the nerves off quickly and performed beautifully – I couldn’t be prouder.”

By the end of the competition, Okanagan College had captured 11 medals. Other institutions that took part included Vancouver Island University, BCIT, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Camosun College, North Island College, Northern Lights College, University of the Fraser Valley, Thompson Rivers University and Vancouver Community College.

Okanagan College students placed as follows:

Zachary Andrews – Electronics
Spencer Humphries – Aerospace Technology
Aaron Schmidt – Automotive Service

Dale Blumhagen – Automotive Service
Curtis Koepke – Refrigeration
Sarah Maw – Culinary Arts
Lukas Pfob – Carpentry

Hugo Beaumier-Martin – Automotive Service
Andrew Kennedy – Aerospace Technology
Rav Matharoo – Heavy Equipment Service
Rudi Verlinden – IT – Network Systems Administration

The National Skills Canada competition attracts more than 500 competitors who compete in 40 contest areas, each vying for a chance at a coveted gold medal. The program was launched in 1994, and is the only national multi-trade and technology competition for young students and apprentices in the country.

Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence named greenest post-secondary building in Canada for 2016
Okanagan College Media Release

COE 2016After becoming the first building of its size in the region to receive LEED Platinum certification, The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation has been named the most sustainable post-secondary building in the country.

The Centre of Excellence earned the top honour – Gold – in the university and college buildings category of the 2016 Green Buildings Review, a recent ranking of Canada’s greenest buildings.

“This latest recognition for the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence is heartening for us because it re-affirms the high level of sustainability we have been able to achieve and maintain since the building opened in 2011,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“Sustainability is deeply rooted in our core values, and this ranking will challenge us as an institution to continue to push the envelope in providing our students with learning environments that embody and inspire innovation.”

The review was released in March by Corporate Knights magazine, a nationally distributed publication focused on corporate ethics. It identified Canada’s dozen greenest buildings, as selected by a panel of building industry experts.COE 2016_2

In order to earn a spot in the top 12, the Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus first had to land on a shortlist of 22 leading facilities whittled down from an original pool of 200. Judges awarded distinctions of Gold, Silver, and Bronze to the greenest buildings in each of four categories: universities and college buildings, hospitals, office buildings, and other public buildings.

Okanagan College faced strong competition in its category. UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability in Vancouver was awarded Silver, and Dalhousie’s Mona Campbell Building received the Bronze award.

“It is a great source of pride for our students and staff that our facility stands among other leaders in the post-secondary sector, and among buildings in much larger centres,” says Donna Lomas, Okanagan College’s Regional Dean of the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

“We could not be more pleased with the way the building has attracted people here to learn, work, and collaborate—from students and staff, to members of the community, to visitors from all over the world.”

This most recent accolade adds to a growing list of provincial, national, and international recognition garnered by the building for its achievements in sustainability. It was one of only three buildings in North America to be featured by the New York Times as examples of carbon-neutral post-secondary facilities.

The College received LEED Platinum certification in June 2015. A ceremony was held this past February to unveil the official Platinum plaque bestowed upon the College by the Canada Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is globally recognized as a means of assessing green building practices and outcomes. Platinum is the highest LEED certification that can be achieved.

The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence opened in 2011, and was jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments along with more than $9 million in community contributions. Since the opening of the building, continued community support has also helped to launch new programs and create additional support for students at the Penticton campus.

Read the full results of the 2016 Green Building Review here.

Silver Surfers: College students help seniors catch the techie wave
Okanagan College Media Release

Silver Surfers and Daniel Alfred Apr 2016In today’s fast-paced digital age, catching up to the latest technology gadget can seem insurmountable for seniors.

Helping bridge the technology age-gap, twins Daniel and Rebecca Alfred and Sam Jamieson, all Enactus Okanagan College students, have stepped up to connect 28 Missionwood Retirement Resort residents with 15 student volunteers for hands-on tablet tutorials throughout the month of March.

Over the course of four sessions the Silver Surfers project covered the basics of how to use an iPad from turning it on, adjusting volume controls, taking pictures, FaceTiming with family, and how to post, like and comment on Facebook.

“Working part-time at Missionwood, I’d see family members give the gift of a tablet to their grandparent, but without showing them how to use it,” says Daniel Alfred, now in his third year of a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Okanagan College. “I’d help where I could, but I knew more could be done. That sparked the idea of Silver Surfers.”

He points out that research has shown that many seniors face depression and isolation. Silver Surfers was developed with the goal of helping them reconnect with their loved ones by using the very technology they were being gifted to alleviate these feelings.

First lesson: taking a selfie.Silver Surfers Apr 2016

“It was a great ice-breaker with the volunteers, and was quite fun to see these individuals, many over 70 years young, discover the phenomenon of the selfie,” adds Alfred. “It was incredible to see the relationships forming, and the true connections.”

“I enjoyed the students so much,” echoes resident Lois Patterson. “They were very kind, helpful, and patient with us seniors.”

Complementing the hands-on learning experience, the three business students designed an illustrative booklet with step-by-step instructions to help refresh the memory of the tablet users ongoing.

TELUS Kelowna generously loaned five 3G enabled iPads to the cause, and has committed to doing so again as the program expands to other residences. The project is also branching out across the region after Enactus Okanagan College at the Salmon Arm campus expressed interest in launching Silver Surfers at a seniors’ residence in the community.

College enlists in program that opens doors for Canadian vets, reservists
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College is enlisting in a national program that helps Canadian Armed Forces veterans and reservists accelerate their education as they transition to other employment.

The College has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Canada Company, a charitable, non-partisan organization that serves to engage, educate and build ties between community and business organizations and the Canadian Military. The charity’s goal “is to ensure that the men and women in our Canadian Armed Forces receive the widest support, care and recognition that they deserve.”

The MoU means Okanagan College joins other Canadian post-secondary institutions that are working with Canada Company under the Military Employment Transition (MET) program to provide vets and reservists with recognition for training and experience they have received as they take credential programs at the institutions. It means they may be able to fast-track their way to a credential - an important link to military members’ and veterans’ successful transition to second careers

This opens a door for military veterans and personnel to get credit for prior learning as they enter programs at Okanagan College,” explains Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President Education. “It is a superb way to take what they have learned in their careers with the Canadian Armed Forces and transition into careers in the private sector.

The College joins BCIT, NAIT, Fanshawe College, Eastern College and Marine Institute as participants in the program.

“We’ve already had some interest from a reservist in Kelowna when he learned we were becoming a part of this initiative,” notes Teresa Kisilevich, an Associate Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business and a key player in the College’s involvement.

“We’re pleased at Okanagan College’s decision to sign on to the MET program,” explains Canada Company President Angela Mondou. “Okanagan College offers an array of programs that veterans and reservists are interested in, from business administration to trades, to engineering technology programs. Many of our vets have undertaken significant training in the military that transfers directly to the business world. Being able to have their prior learning recognized will make credential achievement and transition to employment that much easier.”

For more information or to learn more about the program, veterans and reservists can contact Kisilevich at 250 762-5445, ext. 4393 or

(Okanagan College currently has ties to the Canadian Armed Forces through its Electronic Engineering Technology diploma program, which is accredited by the national military, meaning that students can apply to the Forces and be paid while achieving their diploma at OC, with guaranteed employment on successful completion.)

Student ambassadors honoured at President’s Dinner
Okanagan College Blog Post

At the annual President’s Dinner held on March 31 in KPresident's Dinner 2016, blog postelowna, President Jim Hamilton recognized 145 students for being ambassadors of Okanagan College, noting that the students’ participation in events revealed admirable levels of commitment by these individuals and their instructors to the College’s community.

Student ambassadors participated and represented the College at 17 competitions and events across Canada this past year including, but not limited to, business case competitions, Skills Canada, computer programming events, and culinary battles. In many instances they earned podium finishes, and showcased the high-level of skills, training, and education they have received while studying at the College.

The evening of celebrating success included a sumptuous buffet feast prepared by the Culinary Arts students and Culinary Manager Chef Bernard Casavant.

PrairieCoast Equipment gives Trades Complex campaign an Okanagan-style push
Okanagan College Media Release

With heavy duty mechanics in high demand across many sectors, a donor has stepped forward with a locally-inspired donation to remind Okanagan College students and would-be students that BC’s agricultural equipment industry needs more mechanics.PrairieCoast Donation April 2016

“Our company is very pleased to support Okanagan College in building a facility that is going to benefit so many people,” says Ryan Johnson, Regional Manager for PrairieCoast Equipment. “We feel it’s important to invest in the future of our industry, and tomorrow’s trades students are a big part of that future.”

PrairieCoast Equipment has pledged $50,000 toward the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign in support of the new Trades Training Complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. To the excitement of students and instructors, the first installment of the company’s donation arrived on four wheels.

The College’s Heavy Duty Trades shop now boasts a piece of equipment geared towards Okanagan industry: a farm tractor suited to orchard and vineyard work.

“We’re projecting about a 10 per cent increase in our technician workforce this year,” explains Johnson. “So we wanted to provide a piece of equipment that would really benefit and be interesting to students, and that also spoke to the need for skilled workers in our field.”

In the Thompson Okanagan alone, it is projected there will be a need for more than 1,000 new heavy duty equipment mechanics and operators over the next eight years—a need the College is well geared up to address following the renovation and expansion of its facilities. BC Student Outcomes data reinforces the demand; the annual Province-generated survey of recent post-secondary graduates shows that 100 per cent of heavy-duty apprentices from Okanagan College are employed, and at an average wage of $40 an hour.

“We’ve completely updated our Heavy Duty shop and added a 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space,” says Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “Support from local industry like PrairieCoast Equipment has played a big role in our ability to make those upgrades to the learning environment.”

The Okanagan College Foundation launched the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign in October 2014 to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. Of the more than $5.8 million raised to date, donors from in and out of region have stepped up with $250,000 in equipment, from tractors to front-end loaders to collections of hand tools.

“Donations of equipment like this one by PrairieCoast also help us ensure that our students can familiarize themselves with a wide variety of vehicles they are going to encounter out on the job,” says Moores.

The new Trades Training Complex represents one of the College’s most ambitious capital projects, valued at more than $33-million and designed to meet the highest standards of sustainability and green-building technology. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

Shops and classrooms have come online in the renovated areas in recent months but students will now have their first glimpse into the all-new three-storey, 5,500 sq. metre Trades Training Complex. Classes begin this week while finishing touches on the building progress. An official grand opening for the new complex is being planned for the fall.

The Okanagan College Foundation is endeavouring to raise about another $1.3 million to complete the project, the bulk of which will go towards funding for students to help increase access and support student success in trades programs.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit

PrairieCoast Equipment is a BC- and Alberta-based company with eight locations across both provinces, including one in Kelowna. Another location is slated to open in Prince George later this spring. 

Bluebird day for Okanagan College’s 14th annual Half Marathon

Brad BickleyKelowna runners took the top spots in Okanagan College’s 14th annual Half Marathon, 10 KM and Relay Race on Sunday, April 3.
Kelowna’s Christy Lovig tied the women’s 10 K course record, the same record that she set at last year’s event. Lovig ran the distance in (36:48) in both 2015 and 2016, down to the second. Alison Gill of Kelowna came in second (41:59) and Camille Galloway, also of Kelowna, finished third (42:33).
The men’s 10 K race was swept by UBC Okanagan’s cross-country team. Sam Goodrich finished first (35:49), followed by teammates Michael Mitchell (36:00) and Alex Hansen (37:36).
The half marathon men’s race was won by Kelowna’s Brad Bickley (1:12:24). Vernon’s Aaron Heidt wasn’t able to defend his title from last year but still came in second with a time of (1:13:17). Cael Wainer came in third (1:25:06).
The female half marathon was won by Kelowna’s Gina Tranquada (1:29:55), followed by Tracy Dayman (1:33:57). Jodi Cochran finished third with a time of (1:34:17).
JumperThe half marathon relay event was won by team “Your Pace or Mine?”  The five runners covered the 21.1 KM distance in a time of (1:47:58). Team members included: Jennifer Hostland, Lizzy McKinlay, Laura Fylyshtan, Matt Gibson and Teddy Haley.
“There were an awful lot of happy faces on the course today,” said Christine Ulmer, Race Director. “The sun was shining and temperatures were absolutely perfect. On top of that, we had the largest number of volunteers ever for the race this year so it was very well run and things went off without a hitch. We didn’t break any records but judging by the number of people who thanked me at the finish line, it was a huge success.”
The Okanagan College Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay is an annual not-for-profit event that raises funds to support student bursaries. Event sponsors include: Canadian Springs Water, the Kelowna Capital News, Save On Foods, Active Living Chiropractic, Okanagan College Pastry Arts, Starbucks, the Orchard City Amateur Radio Club.
Aid stations were generously operated by enthusiastic volunteers from: Orange Theory Fitness, Spinco, Okanagan College Trades and Apprenticeship, Aviva, The Hot Box Yoga.
Complete race results will be available online:

OC passes $100 million budget
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s Board of Governors has passed its first $100 million budget: one that will create additional capacity for international and domestic students and provides additional financial aid support for students at each of its four campuses.

The Board passed the budget Tuesday at its regular meeting.

The budget also contains an allocation for an additional 3.7 FTE staff members in the financial aid department and in the finance department to assist Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language students as they apply for bursaries and grants to offset tuition fees announced earlier this year. Financial Aid will now have a physical presence on all four campuses.

“There is an important message in this budget,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Through collaboration between departments, through dedication, through looking at opportunities Okanagan College has found ways to continue to grow access and support our goal of diversifying the institution.”

“We started the budget process several months ago with a gap of about $2 million we needed to wrestle with, and we have found a way to address that and continue to build Okanagan College,” notes Vice President Finance and Administration Roy Daykin. “Our enrolments and tuition revenue were larger than budgeted in 2015-16, and we were able to incorporate those on an ongoing basis as well as find ways to build capacity for international and domestic students. Our international department has exceeded its target for 2015-16 and saw ways to continue that momentum working with the program areas in the coming year.”

Additional capacity for both domestic and international students will be added in network and telecommunications engineering technology, electronic engineering technology, computer information systems, and business administration, requiring five additional instructor positions. International recruitment and advising will also grow by 1.7 full-time equivalent positions to expand recruitment efforts and to increase advising services to students. A new digital content and social media specialist is being added to Public Affairs.

“I’m pleased that we have been able to make the 2016-17 budget one that sees some limited growth, some investment where we think it will bear return, and that sees no reductions in programs and services,” says Daykin.

New Salmon Arm diploma option maps ties between information and geography
Okanagan College Media Release

A new two-year Environmental Studies diploma option at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus is focused on a growing area of research and study that integrates information and computer-based mapping.Andrew Perkins March 2016

Beginning this fall, students can take the Geographic Information Science option in the Earth and Environmental Studies Diploma program. It is a field of expertise that is in increasing demand by everyone from police forces to forest companies, First Nations to smartphone app developers.

“Paper maps are outdated as soon as they are printed. Digital maps overlain with interactive information are like living objects, leading you to decisions on where things happen, how frequently they happen, when they will or might happen, and who or what is making them happen,” explains Dr. Andrew Perkins, a Salmon Arm professor key to the program’s development and delivery. “Now, that map is an enhanced tool for data storage, data analysis and, ultimately, better decision making.”

An information session focused on the program is being held May 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Salmon Arm campus.

“We’re building on an area of expertise this campus already has,” explains Professor Stephanie Bunclark, the chair of the College’s Geography, and Earth and Environmental Science Department. “Salmon Arm has been offering a certificate course in Geographic Information Systems for several years and we’re building on that with university courses in Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, in addition to other courses in the Social Sciences and Sciences.”

This diploma program will lead students to understand the research, analysis and human resources, as well as the hardware and software integral to Geographic Information Science.

“It blends theory and technology to provide graduates with a diploma that will open career doors for them in a number of fields, including urban planning, local government, mining, forestry, resource management, or surveying,” explains Bunclark.

The program will be one option that students can choose within the College’s Environmental Studies Diploma program. The full two years of the GIScience option are housed on the Salmon Arm campus and will provide hands-on opportunities to work with tools of the trade like GPS (global positioning system) and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles).

“Geographic Information Systems were initially developed in Canada to help us better manage our farmlands. Since that time the technology has exploded globally where it helps individuals, organizations and government make better decisions about every aspect of the issues they face,” explains Perkins, whose research interests include Augmented Reality and Geographic Information, UAV-based data collection and glacial geomorphology.

“To accomplish this, GIS users capture spatial data surrounding an issue, display and analyze the data to provide new insights on issues, and generate new, creative outputs that aid in critical understanding of the issue.”

For more information visit

Nominations open for 2016 OCAA Alumni Awards
Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Award.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni of Okanagan College and Okanagan University College for their demonstration of excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and/or support for Okanagan College. The Young Alumni Award celebrates the outstanding contributions of an alumna or alumnus who is under the age of 35.

“It is a joy and a privilege each year to review nominations and learn more about the accomplishments of our alumni,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the OCAA Board of Directors. “Okanagan College and OUC alumni are doing remarkable things, and these awards are a wonderful opportunity each year to recognize the impact they are having in our surrounding communities and far beyond.”

All members of the Okanagan College Alumni Association are eligible to be nominated for the distinguished or young alumni awards. Nominees must have completed a certificate, diploma, degree, apprenticeship program or have completed a minimum of 30 academic credits at Okanagan College or OUC.

The deadline for nominations is April 29. Nominations may be made by completing an online form available at:

Sareena Sharma Nickoli, Bachelor of Business Administration (2001) and Interior Decorating Certificate (2003), was the recipient of last year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. John Perrott, Bachelor of Business Administration (2003), was honoured with the 2015 Young Alumni Award. Profiles of previous years’ recipients can be found at

For Nickoli the award was a reminder of the role education has played in her success as a local business leader, while the ceremony was a chance to re-connect with her alma mater.

“I have always worked hard with the intent to better myself and those around me. To be recognized by Okanagan College, where I got my degree and started myself off on the path I’m on today, was such a humbling experience.”

The 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Award will be selected by the Alumni Association Board of Directors and presented at the association’s annual general meeting in September.

Arts education promotes an open mind, critical thinking, and global perspective
Okanagan College Media Release

Aaron Gregory March 2016Adopted from a Haitian orphanage as a baby, 21-year-old Kelowna resident Aaron Gregory’s personal history has instilled in him a deep commitment to humanitarianism and giving back to the community.

Gregory has found his stride at Okanagan College where he is completing the second year of an International Development Management diploma. He also volunteers in his spare time as the Vice President of Enactus Okanagan College (a student-run social entrepreneurship organization), where he spearheaded the InnSpire project that raises funds for local shelter Inn From the Cold. He is also a student ambassador, giving campus tours to prospective students, and mentors little ones when working at Camp OC in the summer.

“I chose an Arts education because it encouraged me to analyze the world around me, and to think critically about ways to contribute to its betterment,” says Gregory about the multi-disciplinary program that combines diplomacy, political science, and business courses.

On Tuesday, April 5, prospective students, parents and anyone curious about Arts programs at the College’s Kelowna campus will have a chance to speak with Gregory to learn more about his experience as a student during an Arts Open House from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event will be held in the atrium of the Centre for Learning.

Informal in style, the open house will enable Grade 11 and 12 students who are considering applying, or those who have already applied but not accepted their offer, to connect with instructors, advisors, current students, and alumni in order to help them choose the right Arts education path. More than 180 courses in 21 subject areas are offered in the Arts discipline at Okanagan College and representatives from these will be on hand to share information.

In addition, two information presentations at 6 and 6:30 p.m. in room E202 will cover the topics of the application process, funding options, university transfer credits, and the Freshman 15, giving practical tips of what to know before starting post-secondary.

“I looked at nearly 40 schools across Canada to find the right one,” explains Gregory. “I chose Okanagan College for its reputable programs but also so that I could stay close to home. I didn’t want to experience the big 300-person class, that’s intimidating. Small class sizes and the ability to connect with professors was a big driver for me, especially coming from a small town.”

He adds that the Arts program transfer credits are a great asset, noting that high school students he meets are surprised to learn that courses are fully transferable to universities and other institutions in B.C. and in Canada.

“I’ll be transferring to the Okanagan College School of Business to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration. It’s fantastic that my first two years of Arts count as the first two years of the BBA.”

For more information about the April 5 Kelowna Arts Open House event visit No pre-registration is required to attend, and parking will be free that evening.

Provincial funding spurs program for Health Care Assistants in Princeton

With funding from the Province’s Ministry of Advanced Education, Okanagan College will offer a new Health Care Assistant program in Princeton this year, providing education for eight students in the six-month certificate program.
“There is a growing need for health care professionals throughout our province,” says Jackie Tegart, Fraser-Nicola MLA on behalf of Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “Funding a health care assistant program in Princeton demonstrates the commitment by our government to answering the skills needs of our province.”
Okanagan College will receive $90,000 to support delivery of the program.
“We anticipate that classes will commence in September for the program,” explains Donna Lomas, Okanagan College’s Regional Dean for the South Okanagan Similkameen. “That will provide time for prospective students to ensure they have the necessary prerequisites.”
Those prerequisites include having medical certification of good health, a FoodSafe certificate, first aid certification, necessary immunizations and a criminal record check.
The program provides students with the skills and knowledge to act as direct client care providers and members of a health care team. Graduates provide care focused on promoting the physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being of clients. Graduates of the program are prepared to work in any level of continuing care including home support, adult day care, assisted living and complex care.
“There is significant demand within our region for Health Care Assistants,” notes Yvonne Moritz, the College’s Dean of Science, Technology and Health. “And there was tremendous support for this project from the Princeton and District Community Skills Centre and the community. Interior Health has been very co-operative and supportive as we put the plans together for this program.”
Details of the program will be available shortly on the College’s website and an information meeting is being planned for the near future. Dates and details will be advertised.

Pastry Arts students provide extra incentive for a race to the finish line

PastryOkanagan College has come up with a few sweet and savoury reasons for runners to register for the 14th annual Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay Race, which will take place on Sunday, April 3 at the Kelowna campus.

In addition to the traditional post-race fare of bagels, fruit, cookies, and other carb replenishing snacks, students in the College’s Pastry Arts program will be serving up an assortment of warm baked goods, fresh from the oven.

With input and guidance from instructor Chef Danny Capadouca, the Pastry Arts students developed a post-race menu that includes something for everyone’s palate.

Runners will be able to snack on fresh baked field berry scones, rich chocolate brownies with walnuts, peanut butter and jam muffins, homemade trail mix and a hazelnut truffle, to satisfy those with a sweet tooth.

“Our students are involved in a number of community events and the half marathon was a great fit for us,” said Chef Capadouca. “It provides another opportunity to showcase the skills of our students to an audience who otherwise might not be aware of the talented chefs we have in our program. It’s also really nice for the students to present their food and get out of the kitchen to interact with the community.”

Race Director Christine Ulmer says the addition of the Pastry Arts students into the annual event makes sense on a whole number of fronts.

“I’ve been organizing this race for the past six years and I can’t believe I never thought to invite our student chefs into the mix,” she said. “I was running in a race this fall and was so excited to see a group of our Pastry Arts students serving amazing snacks on the course. It made me wonder why we weren’t doing this at our own race. I put a call into Chef Danny and he’s put together a really special selection for our runners. I think people will be very impressed by the food they get to enjoy and I think it will add a special touch to this unique event.”

Registration is still open for the race, which offers three different distances: a half marathon, a 10 K, and a relay race that covers the half marathon course. Online registration is available until Wednesday, March 30. After that time, runners can register in person the day before the race at Okanagan College’s Centre for Learning or on race morning. All proceeds from the race go to support Okanagan College student bursaries.

Visit for more information. 

Why is there public resistance to vaccination?
Okanagan College Media Release

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? This is a question loaded with contention in a public debate that has come to be mainstream in recent years.Dr. Edgar Marcuse March 2016

Vaccines are generally regarded as among the most effective public health interventions. Scientific research has increased knowledge about immunology and new technologies have made possible the development of countless vaccines that protect against diseases that were otherwise common only a generation ago.

Paradoxically, why is it then that we are seeing a decline in public confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines?

Concluding this year’s Science in Society Speakers Series, Dr. Edgar Marcuse, MD and Pediatrics Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington, will address this question in a public talk titled “Let’s talk vaccines: was there ever an age of reason?” on Thursday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus lecture theatre. 

“The crux of the issue is that our understanding of the science of vaccine development far exceeds our understanding of individual decision-making and how best to influence it,” claims Marcuse.

In his talk, Marcuse will review the history, origins, scope and impact of vaccine hesitancy, highlighting some common concerns, while exploring the relative role of science, culture and emotion in parents’ decision-making about vaccines. He will make the case that timely and complete immunization should be standard practice. He will suggest that values play a central role in both individual decision-making and policy development and argue for the need for a public discussion of values.

Marcuse is an academic general pediatrician with a special interest in immunization policy, practice, ethics, economics and vaccinology. He has served as a member and Chair of the US Department of Health and Human Services National Vaccine Advisory Committee and most recently has served on the US Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. He has authored more than 100 publications relating to immunization, general pediatrics and public health.

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

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.

Voyager RV gives back, sees bright future for technicians in B.C.
Okanagan College Media Release

Voyager RV Donation March 2016The Okanagan’s largest dealer of “homes away from home” has made a major donation towards the new home for learning students at B.C.’s second largest trades training institution.

Voyager RV has donated $30,000 to support the construction of a bright new student space in the trades training complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

“We jumped at the chance to be part of building a facility that will make students proud and excited to learn their trade,” says Voyager’s Vice President Jason Friesen.

“I think the College is doing wonderful work to remind people that there are bright futures in the trades. Tradespeople are vital to so many businesses like ours in the Okanagan and all over the province.”

A completely renovated, state-of-the-art 6,302 sq./ft. RV shop is now in operation. The entire new complex is slated to open doors to students by the end of the month and will provide the College with room to train more than 2,600 students each year.

“Support from industry and the community has helped make this building a reality,” says the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “We thank Voyager RV for supporting so many of our graduates over the years and now for this generous investment in our new facilities.”

Friesen says the demand for RV technicians remains strong, noting that Voyager is already experiencing peak season traffic early in the year.

“Every year we keep adding technicians who have gone through the College’s RV program. We’ll be relying on these graduates for our workforce for the future as our business continues to expand.”Voyager RV Jason Friesen March 2016

The Winfield company has grown by leaps and bounds since Friesen’s father Rod set up shop 1984 with one employee and a handful of consignment RVs scoured from around the valley.

Today, the business employs between 45-50 people depending on the season—including more than a dozen alumni of Okanagan College, from the RV Service Technician program to the Women in Trades Training program. About a year and a half ago, Voyager added a brand new six bay service shop to keep up
the demand for both sales and servicing of the RVs and to house its growing team of technicians.

As the company has grown, so too has Voyager’s connection to the community.

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to do this for the last 34 years, due to the incredible people in the valley here who have supported our business. So we like to give back to local causes whenever we can.

“This was a particularly special opportunity. It has been amazing to watch the building come together and to know that something we supported will endure and benefit students in the Okanagan for many, many years to come.”

When completed this spring, the $33-million renovation and expansion of Trades shops and classrooms at the Kelowna campus will cap off one of Okanagan Colleges largest ever capital construction projects. In addition to more space for students, the project will see older, less efficient facilities replaced with more sustainable, energy-efficient spaces.

The provincial government has committed $28-million to the project. The Okanagan College Foundation is currently embarked on a $7-million fundraising campaign to raise an additional $5-million for capital construction and $2-million for program and student support.

More information about the campaign and opportunities to get involved is available at
The taxman is knocking; College students answer the call for help
Okanagan College Media Release

OC Accting Club March 2016A group of Okanagan College business students are volunteering to help take the stress out of filing for tax season by offering a series of free public weekday tax clinics until April 29.

The Okanagan College Accounting Club is hosting the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guided Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) to help individuals with an income of less than $30,000 (or a family income of less than $40,000).

“This is the club’s sixth year running the program. There’s a definite need; last year we helped more than 400 community members,” says business student Alex Urbanovitch, who is also the Director of the College’s CVITP. “For the volunteers it’s a step towards gaining career training, and it gives the clients an opportunity to ask questions face-to-face to clarify their tax concerns and ensure they can get the most out of their returns.”

The 30 student volunteers have undergone the Canadian Income Tax I course and trained with a CRA-led webinar. They use the tax software UFile, which saves costs and is a catch-net preventing human error. As a volunteer service no documents or paperwork are kept – they are returned to the client or shredded. The computer files are password encrypted for additional security and privacy.

Urbanovitch adds that the service is valuable to fellow College students.

“Students who do not work may think they don’t need to file taxes, but there are great advantages to doing so, such as receiving GST credit. Filing taxes means a record is kept of your tuition expenses for credit, which can be carried over to future years when income is earned. Or the credit can be transferred to a family member to lower their taxes payable.”

Clinics are on a first-come, first-served basis, and are held in the Atrium of the Centre for Learning at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. Clinics are scheduled:
  • Mondays: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Tuesdays: 3 – 5 p.m.
  • Wednesdays: 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Thursdays: 3 – 5 p.m.
  • Fridays: 9 – 11 a.m.

No clinics will be offered on Mar. 23, 25 or 28.

Individuals should bring with them their ID, Social Insurance Number, slips from employers, schools, or government (any T4-type slips, T2202A, or T5007), and any additional items they think should be included, such as receipts for medical, childcare, and bus passes.

Pedals to the masses online: bike parts firm built by OC students and alumni
Okanagan College Media Release  

Trevor Tuck, Dylan Decker, Colton Cheney and Shelby Miller may well be the picture of the next generation of entrepreneurs.Trevor Tuck March 2016

With persistence, help from family, friends and wherever they can get it, a thirst for education, well-managed expectations and an ability to adapt, the Okanagan College students and alumni are involved in creating an online company that caters to a niche market in the two-wheeled world.

Tuck is in the College’s Business Administration degree program. Decker and Cheney graduated in January from the same program, and Cheney is now a financial services representative with TD Canada Trust. Miller is in the College’s Civil Engineering Technology diploma program. They comprise TBS Bike Parts (, a company that retails mountain bike parts in North America, without extensive investment in sales people or bricks-and-mortar storefront.

“Our goal is to eliminate the middleman and save consumers between 30 and 40 per cent, even with shipping costs,” explains Tuck. The company’s short history starts in 2011, while the four partners were still in secondary school, as part of a Young Entrepreneurs program. That program is organized by School District 23 in concert with the Central Okanagan Regional District’s Economic Development Commission and Enactus Okanagan College, a student-run organization celebrating 10 years of social entrepreneurship activities in the region.

The four were in a Grade 12 Entrepreneurship class when they came up with the idea of a company selling “tramp bikes” – bicycles that are used on trampolines for tricks. They built two prototypes, painted them fluorescent colours, and wowed the judges with their business plan. The foursome, though, quickly realized the limited size of the market and tramp bikes morphed into TBS Bicycle Parts.

Today, they have a warehouse with boxes of parts, an online site capable of digital commerce, a contract with Canada Post for shipping, and an abundance of enthusiasm and drive. Each day they collate their online orders, pack the requisite parts, label them and then truck them to Canada Post.

Tuck says his business education at the College has been supplemented by the sage advice and guidance of strong mentors who have helped him and his partners.

Tuck balances his dedication to the business with his studies at OC, and acknowledges that the business is benefitting from what he learns. “I found a lot of what I’ve been learning here applies to the business and, similarly, I’ve found that what I’m learning in business is helping me appreciate and better understand what I’m being taught.”

One of the classes he highlights as particularly advantageous is a course in internet marketing, taught by OC professor Robert Wright. “I’ve asked for and had some feedback from Robert on our site and approach. It’s been valuable.”

Tuck hasn’t always been an Okanagan College student. After graduating from OKM, he left for the University of Victoria, but returned in the fall of 2014 to the Okanagan when business for TBS started to pick up. It’s a move he is glad he made.

“I can’t say enough about the quality of the education here,” he notes. “Class sizes are smaller and you get to know your profs, and there’s a lot of very interesting group work that’s associated with the degree program. At UVic I had classes of 200 or 300 people – here there are 20 or 30 students. And I’m interested in business. At OC, you can jump right into business classes – at UVic, it was a matter of two years of other programs before you even found out if you were going to be admitted to business.”

(The 2016 Young Entrepreneurs Program marks the 23
rd year the program has run, and the 10th year that Enactus Okanagan College has been involved. The Senior Competition featuring the top five senior teams will be held live from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on May 24 at the theatre at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. A trade show will be held in conjunction with the event.)
Enactus Okanagan College off to Nationals after Regional victories
Okanagan College Media Release

Enactus Team March 2016Okanagan College’s Enactus team has returned from the Enactus Canada Regional Exposition for Western Canada in Calgary with two top-place finishes, propelling the team to the National Exposition in Toronto later this year.

The team from Okanagan College and the team from BCIT were both named regional champions of the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge. The four students who competed for the College are all from Kelowna: Cassandra McColman, Cooper Simson, Carly Suddard, and Talasa Harder. They presented on their award-winning Young Entrepreneurs program, which is a partnership with School District 23 and the Economic Development Commission of Central Okanagan.
Enactus Capital One Team March 2016

A second team from the College also won the top spot, alongside the team from Simon Fraser University, in the Capital One Financial Education Challenge. The team won based on its presentation about CANSave, which was a partnership with Valley First Credit Union that taught elementary school children in Kelowna about financial literacy. The winning team consisted of Cam Starcheski, Abbey Jones, Hannah Griffin and Darren Gillespie, all of Kelowna.

“I am in my fourth year with Enactus Okanagan College, and the team never fails to amaze me,” says Cassandra Lum, President of Enactus Okanagan College. “Every year we are able to change the lives of those we are able to help, and continue to raise the bar of what we are able to accomplish.”

Enactus Scotiabank Team March 2016A team from Okanagan College was named regional runner-up in the Scotiabank Ecoliving Green Competition and won a $1,000 cash prize, presenting on their ReWine project.

In the TD Entrepreneurship Competition, Okanagan College earned the impact award for their Venture Okanagan project and a $500 cash prize.

“This year marks the tenth anniversary of Enactus Okanagan College,” explained faculty advisor Dr. Kyleen Myrah. “It is incredibly rewarding to build on our previous success at Regionals and we are looking forward to showcasing the great work of our students and community partners on the national stage in Toronto. While I’m very proud of the way our team has competed, I’m even more proud of the work they do in our communities to benefit the people of our region.”

The two regional winning teams from the College will now advance to the National Exposition in Toronto on May 2-4. The nationals team, which presents on projects across their entire year will also compete on behalf of Okanagan College. 

College’s Human Resource Management students bring home silver
Okanagan College Media Release

Three Okanagan College business students have returned to Kelowna with a new trophy for the case after placing second in the HRCWest Case Competition, which was held in Edmonton last weekend.HRCWest March 2016

The team of Miranda Birkbeck, Faye Hughes and Sarah Kelman made the trip to Alberta with their faculty advisors Laura Thurnheer and Roger Wheeler.

For Birkbeck, the competition was a chance to improve upon last year’s third-place finish. The fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration student took part in 2015 and says the experience proved to be valuable the second time around.

“I was more confident this year and that’s one of the really great aspects of participating in case competitions like HRCWest,” she said. “You have to think on your feet and work under stress with different personalities. Those are great skills to develop and are critical to success in the workplace.”

The team was given three hours to analyze a business case and develop a 20-minute presentation, which was immediately delivered to a panel of judges. The top three teams from the preliminary round moved to the finals, where they presented to new judges.

This year’s case challenged the students to put themselves in the shoes of the 2009 Domino’s Pizza corporate management team, which faced a brand-damaging episode after employees filmed a prank in the kitchen of a Domino’s franchise that violated health codes and corporate policy.

“It was a really interesting case,” said Birkbeck. “We felt like we produced a solid plan and the judges seemed to agree. We will be getting a full report on our performance but for now, we’re really happy with how we did.”

The Okanagan College team placed ahead of MacEwan University, Mount Royal University, NAIT, The University of Alberta, Thompson Rivers University, University of Lethbridge, and the University of Manitoba.

“This was the second year we have sent a team to compete in HRCWest and we have continued to get stronger in a very competitive field,” said Thurnheer. “Our team was very pleased with their first round delivery and making the finals was a highlight, both Roger and I are very proud of the team’s performance and results.”

Spaghetti Bridge contest comes to a dramatic finish
Okanagan College Media Release

2016 Spaghetti Bidge WinnersThe 33
rd annual Okanagan College Spaghetti Bridge Building Heavyweight competition came to a surprising finish after a series of disqualifications launched the team of Anna Offenwanger and Ephraim Nowak from UBC Okanagan into the top spot.

Offenwanger and Nowak were sitting in third place after each of the five entries had been put to the test on the Fettuccine Fault Line. Their bridge withstood an impressive 184.3 kgs of load before exploding in front of a packed lecture theatre at the College.

Two teams from Charles Bloom Secondary in Lumby presented beautifully constructed bridges that performed better but were disqualified due to a rule violation. Brendan Mattenley’s bridge held 258.9 kgs of load and the team of Justin Dessert and Hanya Riddick built a bridge that made it to 244.5 kgs – but unfortunately neither of those bridges qualified for the top prizes.

“Today’s competition ended in an unexpected way,” explained head judge Dr. Andrew Hay, Vice President Education for the College. “We have a very specific set of rules that we apply evenly to all of the bridges that enter the competition. This year we had two wonderfully designed bridges that had some continuous strands of glue securing the pasta. Sadly, the rules specify that is not allowed. It’s unfortunate to see students who work so hard on this kind of project turned away without a prize; we know how much effort they put into building these spectacular structures. Certainly the students were not attempting to gain any advantage – it was simply a case of not fully understanding the rigidity of the rules. When you are pushing the limits of engineering design, some unique solutions emerge, and we commend the students for their level of innovation.”

This is not the first year a bridge has been disqualified. In 2010 teams from Hungary and Okanagan College had bridges disqualified for rule violations.

The team from UBC Okanagan took home the top prize of $1,500. The second place prize went to James Dessert, also from Charles Bloom Secondary. His bridge withstood 128.3 kgs. Third place was not awarded, as the other bridges tested did not make the minimum threshold of 10 kgs of load. Prize money for the event is generously provided by the event’s sponsors: the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC), PCL Construction, Okanagan College Students’ Union, Multi Power Products, AECOM, OP Machine Ltd., Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEG), WSP Group, and Interior Testing Services Ltd.

The Spaghetti Bridge Heavyweight world record of 443.58 kilograms was established in Kelowna in 2009 by a team from Hungary and continues to be undefeated.

Hundreds of other students put their engineering skills to the test in other categories. In the Secondary category, which sees students pre-make bridges for testing on site, students from Charles Bloom Secondary swept the top three spots. In the Secondary Team Building category, students build bridges on site. The winners of that contest were from Charles Bloom, and King’s Christian School in Salmon Arm.

Okanagan College swept the Post-Secondary Team Building competition for the second year in a row.

Complete Results

First – Anna Offenwanger and Ephraim Nowak
Bridge weighed: 974.3 grams
Bridge held: 184.3 kg

Second – James Dessert, Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby
Bridge weighed: 989.06 g
Bridge held: 128.3 kg

Team Building, Post-Secondary
First – Zack Ricketts, Jordan Klippenstein, Geoff Pill and Connor Buick (Okanagan College)
Second – Zak Furiak, Justin Lange, Jesse Padda and Bob Briggs (Okanagan College)
Third – Daniel Otto, Jennifer Zarr, Cam Sabados and Jessica MacDonald (Okanagan College)

Team Building, Secondary
First – Esther Drysdale and Shale Nierman (Charles Bloom Secondary)
Second – Madison Dewitt and Paul Unger (King’s Christian School)
Third- Marissa Brandsma and Jessica Roodzant (King’s Christian School)

Individual Secondary
First – James Dessert (Charles Bloom Secondary)
Second– Hanya Riddick (Charles Bloom Secondary)
Third – Justin Dessert (Charles Bloom Secondary)

$5,000 first place prize is money transfer this entrepreneur can appreciate

Okanagan College Media Release

Kelowna entrepreneur Chris Danek is in the business of making digital money transfers easier, so he was glad to receive a $5,000 grand prize from title sponsor Grant Thornton at the recently held Venture Okanagan Investors’ Forum.

Danek is the CEO and founder of Monster Money, a person-to-person digital money transfer system. The Venture Okanagan Investors Forum was held Feb. 18 at Okanagan College. It is the largest student-run event of its type in Western Canada. 

"This is a great milestone for us,” said Danek. “We’re really excited to launch our product and make sending money cheaper and easier for people.”

(Monster Money will soon be rebranding as Spot.)

Venture Okanagan Project Manager Lauren McKay, a fourth-year Okanagan College Business Administration student, said Danek’s product matches the way people use money today, and makes it even easier.

“Although we’re all familiar with digital payment methods, it’s expensive and time-consuming to send small amounts of money to friends using PayPal or email money transfers. Monster Money bridges the gap between different digital payment methods, making the whole process quick, easy, and inexpensive.”

Danek says his company’s products help people send money to any mobile number or email address using any type of funding account (including other e-wallets) and making the process simple.

“Select from a list of contacts you already have in your phone, and punch in the amount you’d like to send. Done. No hassles around account details and expensive fees, just a simple and clean product to fill a need everyone has,” he says.

Monster Money was one of five startups that presented to an audience of over 100 at the recent Investors’ Forum. Coming in second place was Andrew Greer, founder of Purppl – a business accelerator program for social enterprises. Greer received a $250 runner-up prize from SoLo GI Energy Bars as well as a $100 gift certificate from Small Business BC, awarded to each of the five presenting entrepreneurs.

Also presenting were Mower Brewing, Limitless Potential Technologies, and 3D Currax Solutions.

The February event marked the 10th forum, which is now in its sixth year of operation under Enactus Okanagan College. The judges included representatives from Grant Thornton, City of Kelowna, and select angel investors.

Mark Ziebarth, Enactus faculty advisor and Okanagan College professor, said this event acts as a catalyst for local growth by facilitating connections between entrepreneurs and investors.

“This forum does something that seldom happens in our greater Okanagan community -- it brings together local startups, motivated investors, business experts, and students in an interactive setting that encourages strategic opportunities for everyone involved.”

Enactus Okanagan College is a non-profit student run organization that develops and implements projects in our communities that improve the quality of life and standard across the region. Enactus projects focus on three important areas: entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and environmental sustainability. The organization is in its 10th year of operations with its team of students having provided more than 8,170 volunteer hours, directly impacting the lives of over 3,600 people in the Okanagan Valley.

College appoints experienced hand as Shuswap Revelstoke Regional Dean
Okanagan College Media Release

An experienced college administrator is looking forward to her new role as Okanagan College’s Regional Dean for the Shuswap Revelstoke region.Joan Ragsdale March 2016

Joan Ragsdale will start her new job on May 2.

“I am keen to settle in the region and work on developing the partnerships and opportunities that will strengthen the College, the campus and the area communities,” says Ragsdale, who boasts of a 21-year career with the College of New Caledonia (CNC), a Master’s Degree in Education from UNBC, and a Bachelor of Science degree from UVic.

“In the process of applying for this position and the accompanying interviews and meeting, I have come to appreciate how connected everyone is to the College and how willing they are to contribute to its growth and development in this region.”

Ragsdale is familiar with working with an array of regional governments, First Nations, School Districts and other partners to provide access and support for post-secondary education and the regional economic development. She served five years as the Regional Director for the Lakes Campus of CNC, and before that worked as the Associate Regional Director, an instructor, and a Program Administrator.

Over the past year, Ragsdale has worked with School District 91 as Skill Development and Community Relations Co-ordinator. During the past two decades, Ragsdale has served on a number of community boards and committees including the Burns Lake Community Foundation, the Burns Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Lakes District Economic Development Committee, the Omineca Ski Club and the Burns Lake Mill Explosion Recovery Taskforce.

“We have every confidence that Joan will be able to hit the ground running in her new position,” says Okanagan College’s Vice President Students, Charlotte Kushner.

“She knows the B.C. post-secondary landscape very well and has a reputation for achievement and an entrepreneurial approach as well as a track record of working collaboratively and productively with campus communities and employees. I’m sure she’ll be missed in Burns Lake but I know she’ll be a welcome resident of the Shuswap.”