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Harding Award for Engineering motivates local student to reach for robotics career
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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.
Science in Society Speaker Series returns to ask the big questions about adapting to climate change
Okanagan College Media Release

Environmental changes such as rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, melting Arctic sea ice, unusual extreme weather patterns, and out-of-the-norm jet stream behaviour have scientists questioning the relationship between these observations. Have we reached an environmental tipping point, and if so, how can we adapt to this changing natural world?Dr. Richard Hebda Sept 2015

Launching the return of the Science in Society Speaker Series at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus for another season of thought provoking public seminars is Dr. Richard Hebda, curator of Botany and Earth History at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Professor at the University of Victoria, and paleontologist for the province, who will explore what can be done to adjust to coming changes.

The public is invited to hear from Hebda as he presents “What can we do to adapt to a changing planet?” on Tuesday Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lecture Theatre at the College’s Vernon campus.

“Ever-evolving impact models clearly reveal that ecological transformation on a continental scale is on its way,” says Hebda. “It is vital that we strive to understand what defines the ecological integrity of our ecosystems and embed those characteristics in their management.”

The presentation will draw upon his extensive research with plant fossils and their distribution over time and place to shed light on the evolution of B.C.’s landscape and climate. He will help clarify what ecological integrity means, and how we can adapt to climate change including discussing how recent discoveries concerning B.C.’s alpine flora can help with large-scale adaptation strategies.

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

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.

Protocol describes commitment to Indigenous Education
Okanagan College Media Release

OC Protocol Signing Sept 2015Okanagan College and several First Nations and Metis partners have signed a commitment that recognizes the school’s responsibility and commitment to indigenous education and collaboration with Aboriginal communities.

The Indigenous Education Protocol was developed by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICAN) through its Indigenous Education Committee. (That committee was chaired by Ken Tourand, President of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. It was signed on Thursday as part of the Seventh Annual Powwow at the College’s Kelowna campus.)

“Okanagan College has been strengthening our service and connection to the First Nations and Metis of our region over the past decade,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We have seen significant growth in the number of Aboriginal students who choose our institution for their education. Last year, we had 1,535 Aboriginal students attend OC, more than three times the number who attended in 2005-06.”

“We have introduced several programs specifically focused on Aboriginal learners and collaborated with bands individually and jointly on a number of projects in recent years.”

“While that is heartening, we know there is much yet to be done,” says Hamilton, “We can do more in terms of access and supporting student success, and in working with bands and friendship centres, Metis groups and other associations to learn indigenous knowledge, culture and traditions for the benefit of all.”

Okanagan College was joined at the signing ceremony by representatives of the Okanagan Indian Band, the Metis Association of Salmon Arm, the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, the Westbank First Nation, and the Metis Community Service Society of BC.

Allan Louis, an Okanagan Indian Band Councillor, is an alumnus of Okanagan College. He recognized the importance of education for the Aboriginal community and the significant growth that has taken place at the College since he attended in the early 1990s. “There were only five First Nations students here then,” he told a crowd of hundreds Thursday as he participated in the signing ceremony. “This many students is tremendous. Education is key for our community.”

Then and now: Therapist Assistant alumni gather to celebrate 25 years
Okanagan College Media Release

At 71 years old, there’s no stopping Patricia Harris’s continued momentum in providing excellence in rehabilitation care to those in need.TAD 25 years Sept 2015

Boasting a health care career that spans a half-century fuelled by passion and compassion, Harris is a Recreation Therapist Assistant at the Village at Mill Creek, an assisted living and residential care facility in Kelowna. It is a role the single mother of four pursued 25 years ago upon returning to college as a mature student.

At a commemorative reception held Thursday in Kelowna, Okanagan College proudly celebrated a quarter century of Therapist Assistant diploma student successes. Harris was on hand to reconnect with her then-classmates and current colleagues in the industry to mark the occasion.

“I remember studying 25 years ago and the skills instructors passed on to us as students have always stayed with me,” recalls Harris, a member of the 1990 program intake and first graduating class.

Previously a practical nurse, Harris was working as an activity aid in Kelowna when she heard about a new program at the College that would offer the three pillars of physical, recreational, and occupational therapist assistant training. When it launched in 1990 the program was known as the Rehabilitation Assistant certificate program. It has now expanded into a two-year nationally accredited diploma.

“I’ve always worked in the health field. It felt like it would be something for me,” says Harris.

When she returned to the classroom at age 46, Harris experienced a healthy dose of fear and wasn’t totally sure about going back to school and jumping in next to 20-year-olds pursuing the same studies.

“The first four months I thought, am I going to be able to do this? I had homework every day,” recalls Harris. “It was a learning curve, but the instructors encouraged me and took the extra time to help explain things I didn’t understand. At one point it just clicked and by the time I graduated I felt I could keep going.”

“As an educator, it is extremely satisfying to bring 25 years of alumni together. They’re a great example of the successful careers the program has generated,” says Jennifer Stephenson, Chair of the College’s Therapist Assistant diploma program. “A total of 574 Therapist Assistant graduates have come through our doors at the College to date, and we’re seeing a real increase in people interested in training in this field.”

The program has 40 students starting their studies this year, with a waitlist of 20. Stephenson adds that it’s a good thing there is a demonstrated interest. With an aging baby-boomer generation she anticipates an increase in demand for therapist assistants to provide support in the community.

At the anniversary celebration, guests heard from Kerri Winter, President of the Rehabilitation Assistants Association of British Columbia, who is also a graduate of the first graduating class of Okanagan College’s program. A commemorative video marking the silver anniversary was also shown.

As for what’s next for Harris: “my kids ask me all the time ‘mom when are you going to retire?’ I tell them I love my work so much, I will eventually, but at this point, I don’t want to.”

Praxair donation helps Okanagan College keep welding students on the cutting edge
Okanagan College Media Release

Praxair Donation Sept 2015Welding students at Okanagan College’s Kelowna Campus recently sparked their torches for the first time in a newly retrofitted shop, and a donation from Praxair’s Global Giving Program is helping the College outfit state-of-the-art workspaces for them.

“Praxair has a long history of developing talented STEM and skilled trade professionals that help us remain competitive globally,” says Praxair Canada President Sean Durbin. “Having this kind of training available locally through Okanagan College will help our region grow and we’re proud to be able to support our community in this way.”

Praxair has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizons fundraising campaign behind the $33-million renovation and expansion of the College’s trades training facilities. Praxair Canada’s donation was also supplemented by a matching grant through United Way Worldwide, bringing the overall donation up to almost $60,000.

Praxair supports STEM and skilled trades training worldwide through scholarships, donations and initiatives. Last year the company developed the Praxair Skills Pipeline, a program to help address the growing need for skilled workers in today’s global economy.

The donation to the College supported the construction and equipping of six welding booths in the new shop, which will boast 36 booths in total. Students will continue to have access to 32 booths in an older shop space behind the new facilities.

“Despite slowdowns in a number of sectors like Oil and Gas, we are seeing that the demand for welders in Western Canada remains strong,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “Our welding programs are waitlisted and train in two shifts, morning and night, five days a week, to accommodate as many students as we can.”

With potential for the growth of LNG and shipbuilding on the horizon in B.C., Moores says the College is building for the future and working closely with industry partners to stay current on the newest technologies and techniques.

“This new welding shop is going to provide our students with a completely modern learning environment with all the latest technologies and equipment that they will encounter out in the industry.”

In addition to new technologies, improvements to the shop include more efficient lighting, heating and cooling, and a more efficient extraction system which improves ventilation.

Okanagan College is currently the largest public post-secondary trainer of welders in British Columbia, having trained more than 300 FTE (full-time equivalent) students in 2014-2015. Since 2010, the College has trained 1773 FTE welding apprentices and foundation students, including 930 at the Kelowna Campus alone.

In addition to support for the new shop, donations have also allowed for the creation of new bursaries and other support for students in the welding program, says Okanagan College Director Kathy Butler.

“We are so grateful to Praxair and all of the donors who come forward to support this project,” says Butler. “The generosity of our community has been wonderful, and we hope more and more people will continue to get involved. We hope all of our donors, and everyone who is considering supporting the project, understands the impact, the wonderful investment they are making in our students’ futures.”

Launched in October of last year, the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign aims to raise $7 million—$5 million for capital construction and $2 million for student and program support—to complement the provincial government’s $28-million commitment.

As soon as the old welding shop has been vacated, work will begin to upgrade and retrofit the space to house the College’s RV Technician program. In accordance with the College’s commitment to sustainable construction this will mean bringing the decades’ old facilities up to LEED Platinum standards to match the trades training tower under construction along KLO Road. The complex is expected to be fully completed and open to students next spring.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit
College to host free info session about safety regulations of drone flying
Okanagan College Media Release

The popularity of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), otherwise known as drones, has grown abuzz in the last few years. As a result, awareness about the safe use of the modern technology – be it as a toy or tool – is of the utmost importance.

Helping to demystify and clarify current Canadian regulations, safe operation guidelines, and risk management of flying drones, Okanagan College in cooperation with the Kelowna and District Flying Club will host a free public information session on Tuesday Sept. 29, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Kelowna campus lecture theatre.

Hobbyist flyers, those using drones for commercial purposes, and individuals who are considering owning and operating a drone will become equipped with the facts such as the no-fly zone within nine kilometers of an airport, heliport, or aerodrome. Those new to drone technology can find out if obtaining a Special Flight Operation Certificate, as regulated by Transport Canada, is necessary based on the intended use.

Attendees can expect to hear from a panel of experts including representatives from Okanagan College, the Canadian Owners’ and Pilots Association, the RCMP, Nav Canada, and a commercial insurance agent. The insightful session will be followed with a Q&A period.

While the event is free of charge, pre-registration is required. To register, visit and follow the event link on the page.
Donation helps build new home for carpentry students at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

What began as an opportunity for the next generation of carpenters to hone their skills has yielded a gift that keeps on giving for carpentry students at Okanagan College.Village of Kettle Valley donation Sept 2015

Village of Kettle Valley has donated $62,412 to the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign. The gift was made to support the rejuvenation of the College’s carpentry and joinery shop, part of the $33-million renovation and expansion of the trades training facilities underway at the Kelowna campus.

“We feel it is very important to support the future tradespeople of the Okanagan,” says Stephen Wells, Village of Kettle Valley’s President and General Manager of Land Development and Land Sales.

“Village of Kettle Valley has been proud to work with the College on a number of projects and awards for students over the years. This gift evolved out of those collaborations and we were thrilled to play a role in helping the College build a beautiful new shop,” explains Wells.

It is a partnership that dates to 2005 when the developer provided lots on which Okanagan College could construct two “Home for Learning” projects. Students from the College’s Residential Construction program worked side by side with tradespeople from Vintage Design, Delnor Homes, and Excite Homes to build two high-end homes in the community.

Profits from the sale of the homes were donated to Okanagan College to establish an annual award fund providing full tuition credit to one or more students in the Carpentry and Electrician Apprenticeship programs.

Over the past decade, the fund has provided almost $30,000 in tuition credits to 49 recipients.

Earlier this year, when Village of Kettle Valley’s development team learned that the College was updating and expanding its Trades training facilities, a decision was made to roll the balance of the award fund into a donation towards the new College’s carpentry shop—a donation which had a huge impact on the creation of the new space, says Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores.

“Our new Carpentry shop is bright, modern, energy efficient, and reflects the quality of training the students are receiving and have always received at the College,” says Moores.

“It is particularly heartening for us that donors in our community like Village of Kettle Valley have stepped up to support the College in building this space for students.”

The new shop, already in operation, features a number of upgrades, including an enhanced dust extraction system and a new and improved spray booth which provide better ventilation and cleaner air for students and instructors.

“The best improvement, in my mind, is the rearrangement of the space,” says Alf Leimert, Chair of the Construction Trades department. “The new space is more efficient and the location of the tool room makes it more accessible to students in our outside work spaces. It’s an even more functional teaching and learning environment.”

The new three-storey Trades Training Complex along KLO Road is expected to be completed and open to students by Spring 2016.

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign was launched in October 2014 to support the completion of the project. The Okanagan College Foundation is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

More information about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to support students is available at
Donor support powers up new flight simulator at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Ribbon Cutting Sept 2015Support from two local companies will soon place future aviators behind the controls of a cutting-edge flight simulator at Okanagan College.

Carson Air has pledged $125,000 to support the purchase and installation of a Redbird FMX flight simulator at the College’s Kelowna Campus.

“Carson Air is proud to be a long-time partner of Okanagan College in the training of commercial pilots,” says Kevin Carson, President and Operations Manager of Carson Air. “We hope this gift challenges and inspires many students, as they hone their skills and work towards careers as professional aviators.”

The donation was announced today by Carson during a ribbon-cutting celebration for a new training facility at the Southern Interior Flight Centre (SIFC) in the Carson Air Group’s new hangar at the Kelowna International Airport.

Adding to Carson Air’s support, the purchase of the new simulator was also made possible by a donation of $25,000 from ROV Consulting, a structural engineering firm based in Kelowna.

“It has been wonderful to watch the diversification in programming at Okanagan College over the years,” says Richard Visscher, President/CEO of ROV “It is something we are very proud to support.”  

The event also marked the 25th anniversary of the College’s Commercial Aviation Diploma program and partnership with the Southern Interior Flight Centre, which is a division of Carson Air and operates out of Carson Air Group’s hangar and facilities.

To date, the program has graduated more than 312 commercial pilots.

It is a number which could not have been reached without the support and involvement of long-time partner Carson Air, notes Okanagan College’s Vice President of Education Dr. Andrew Hay.

“Partnerships like these are absolutely invaluable to our ability to deliver training that is attuned to the needs of industry and best positions our graduates to excel in their fields,” explains Hay.

“This gift made possible by Carson Air and ROV Consulting is an investment in the students of today, and the students of tomorrow. It will be a very important tool as we work to proactively train ahead of the skills gap looming in B.C. and to ensure we have exceptional new pilots entering the industry to meet the demand over the next decade.”

Like Carson, Visscher has a passion for flight. He is a trained pilot who has been flying for more than 38 years.

In addition to the financial contribution, Visscher also plans to work with the College to share his flight knowledge and experience by mentoring students in the simulator.

“Having quality training available to our students locally, from my own field of Engineering to Business to Commercial Aviation and so many others, means so much for our regional economy. I’m personally very excited to see students put their skills to the test in the simulator,” he says.

“It is a wonderful tool,” adds Carson, “One that will help students train for a diversity of situations and conditions they’ll encounter in the air. We’re glad to help the College provide innovative learning experiences like this.”

The simulator is expected to be installed and in use by students by next September.

Commercial aviation partners mark quarter-century of giving wing to pilots’ dreams
Okanagan College Media Release

As Okanagan College and Southern Interior Flight Centre – with a host of alumni – celebrate 25 years of a successful partnership teaching commercial pilots, the program is starting the new semester with a new facility in Carson Air’s new hangar at the Kelowna International Airport.Rhea MacKay WestJet Sept 2015

And the public is invited to come out and learn more about the two-year diploma program, Southern Interior Flight Centre and tour Carson Air’s facility on Sept. 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Southern Interior Flight Centre is a division of Carson Air.)

“We have a superb partnership with Southern Interior Flight Centre, one that began many years ago and will continue on well into the future,” explains Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President Education.

“A great many pilots began successful careers with us as a result of our unique partnership with SIFC and we are confident that together we will continue to play a vital role for the aviation industry.”

One of those proud graduates is Captain Rhea MacKay, who flies for WestJet and occasionally helps out at SIFC teaching human factors courses. She started in 1994 and graduated in 1996.

“I absolutely wouldn’t trade it,” she says of her career. “It has afforded me many opportunities for development, but most importantly, it has let me do what I love most – fly. And I get to do it for a living with a great company.”

MacKay and SIFC’s Flight School Director Marc Vanderaegen will also both tell you that there is increasing demand for commercial pilots as the industry grows and as a generation of baby-boomer pilots retire.

“The list of companies that our graduates are flying for is growing all the time,” says Vanderaegen.

Last year, Boeing estimated that over the next 20 years there will be a global need of 533,000 pilots.

“This is another example of how Okanagan College – with a respected private partner in this instance – is helping address skills shortages,” explains Hay.

The open house will feature tours of the facility, a chance to look at a variety of planes, and see the simulators that SIFC uses as it trains pilots. A short ceremony will start at 11 a.m. For details on how to find the hangar and where to park for the open house, visit
Fender’s supports College in carrying on rich history of trades training in the Valley
Okanagan College Media Release

A local automotive business owner has made a major donation to Okanagan College to ensure that one of the Valley’s economic engines doesn’t stall out as veteran tradespeople retire in the coming years.Fender's Sept 2015

Fender’s Automotive Center in West Kelowna has pledged $50,000 to support upgrades underway in the College’s Collision Repair shop. The shop is currently being upgraded as part of the $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion of trades training facilities at the Kelowna campus, which includes construction of a new Trades Training Tower along K.L.O. Road.

“As a business owner who hires Red Seal technicians and as someone who went through the apprenticeship process myself, I feel a responsibility to support the next generation and to help keep the automotive trade alive and healthy,” says Fender’s owner Norm Cross.

“The fact that local employers have chosen to support the new trades training complex is very affirming for us as we build for the future,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are truly grateful to Fender’s and all of the other automotive business owners investing in our campus, our programs, and our students as we grow to train ahead of the skills gap predicted for the province.”

Cross’s connection to the College dates back more than three decades; he earned his Red Seal from the Collision Repair Program in 1983.

“I worked for my dad, Norm Sr., who started Springfield Auto Body in the mid-1970s,” explains Cross. “My father was the one who signed off on my apprenticeship ticket.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Cross opened Fender’s in 1999 as a full-service car, truck, RV, bus, and fleet repair shop, specializing in accredited collision repair, automotive glass repair, mechanical repair, detailing, and tire services. The business was awarded West Kelowna’s Best Big Business award in 2014.

The Okanagan College Foundation launched the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Fundraising Campaign in October of last year. Among the earliest supporters of the campaign were the Kelowna Automotive Dealers Association, various individual dealerships, and a host of other automotive-industry businesses—a fact which inspired Cross to join the organizations and families supporting.

“It is very fulfilling to be part of a group of business owners willing to back students entering the automotive trades,” he says. “I’ve seen many examples of people my father knew and worked with who are supporting the College, along with their kids—my generation—who are now honouring their parents’ legacies.”

The Foundation is endeavouring to raise $7 million through the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign in support of the renovation, including $5 million for capital construction and $2 million for student and program support. The provincial government has committed $28-million to the project.

With several renovated shops already in operation, the new Trades Training Complex is expected to be fully completed and open to students by next spring. More information about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to support students is available at
Okanagan College and Justice Institute of British Columbia open degree path in law enforcement

JIBCOkanagan College and the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) are opening the doors for students to complete JIBC’s Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies degree program at the College’s Penticton campus.

Beginning in September of 2016, Okanagan College graduates of the Criminal and Social Justice Diploma (CSJ) will have a privileged opportunity to complete this degree. JIBC guarantees 24 seats to CSJ students who meet the academic standards set out by OC and JIBC. Other seats will be available to all students who meet the admission requirements and who have ambition for a career in law enforcement.

The agreement between the two institutions was announced today in Penticton.

“Providing the next generation of public safety professionals with the applied skills and experience to excel in their career is the purpose of the Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies program,” said Mike Trump, Dean of JIBC's School of Criminal Justice and Security. “We value our partnership with Okanagan College to expand regional access to this applied degree program, which is the first of its kind in Western Canada.”

“Leadership, critical thinking, and ethical decision-making are just some of the skills students will gain in completing the degree,” said Shaun Machesney, Coordinator of the Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies program. “These skills, and completion of a relevant degree, will provide a competitive edge for graduates pursuing a rewarding career in law enforcement and a wide range of other public safety professions.”

“We have been working collaboratively for some time and are excited to announce this partnership today,” explains Dr. Robert Huxtable, Dean of Arts and Foundational Programs at Okanagan College. “The opportunities for all of our students, and for the students of the Criminal and Social Justice program in particular, are very significant. The CSJ Diploma was introduced in 2006, and it has been one of the strongest academic programs we have in the South Okanagan. Coming on the 10th anniversary of the program’s first intake, this new option for graduates of the diploma program to continue their studies locally will only strengthen our program and enhance connections to the law enforcement and justice communities.”

Approximately 100 students are registered in the first year of OC’s CSJ program this fall. About 32 graduated the program this past spring. This fall the College has the largest second-year class of approximately 50 students.

“We will be letting all our previous graduates know about the opportunity over the coming months,” notes Donna Lomas, Okanagan College’s Regional Dean for the South Okanagan Similkameen. “I expect that some of them may be interested in registering and I know having this transition option will probably also help encourage more students to enrol here.”

“This option also means that students have an opportunity to complete a degree in their home region. Many students will be able to save on transportation and housing costs.”

The news of the programming partnership excites second-year Okanagan College student Randy Forster, who has pursued his diploma in Criminal and Social Justice with an eye to a policing career. “This has my attention. I wasn’t excited about having to go to Vancouver to finish a degree if I need to. I’m not big on big cities for learning.”

The degree will initially be conferred by JIBC but the two institutions have agreed to work toward a co-conferred degree.

News of the inter-institutional agreement arrives as construction continues on the 378-cell, $200-million Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver, B.C., about 39 kilometres south of Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. It is expected to open its doors in 2016.

JIBC is Canada’s leading public safety educator developing dynamic justice and public safety professionals through its exceptional applied education, training and research.

Okanagan College is the largest college in B.C.’s interior, educating almost 20,000 people annually at its four campuses and 10 other locations.

New program answers needs for practicing nurses, health authorities
Okanagan College Media Release

A new online program focused on gastroenterological care, developed by Okanagan College with support and input from the health care community, is unique and addresses a national need among practicing nurses.

The 302-hour online Gastroenterology Nursing Certificate program is a groundbreaking program because, until now, practicing nurses who wanted to prepare to take the Certificate in Gastroenterology Nursing exam had to engage in self-study.

The Okanagan College program provides online curriculum (the theory portion is 232 hours) bolstered by a practicum.

“We need to recognize the role that Interior Health played in development of this program,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Development. “Administrators and nursing staff identified the need for this program and the national lack thereof. They have since been intimately involved in developing and reviewing curriculum and we have enjoyed the support of the Canadian Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates.”

Denise Dunton, Interior Health’s Surgical Services Clinical Leader in Acute Care Services, explains that the need for such a program became obvious after discussions with gastroenterological nurses and administrators. She checked in with other health authorities, including Fraser Health Authority and the Northern Health Authority, and they were supportive of a program being developed. Dunton approached Verna Simpson, an Okanagan College program administrator and the work began in earnest.

Simpson and Dunton also garnered support of the Canadian Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates for the initiative.

There is increased demand for the specialty training. Dunton notes that since the B.C. Cancer Agency launched a colon screening program in 2013, the number of colonoscopy procedures at Interior Health have increased substantially.

The Okanagan College program launches its first intake in October. The program is focused on providing practicing nurses with the knowledge and practical skills for entry into endoscopy-room nursing. It includes theory, demonstrations, and practical skill training.

To review admission requirements or for more information visit

Industry teams up with UBC and Okanagan College on energy efficiency research

Two homes will be built as part of a three-year sustainability research project

A local developer, a homebuilder, the University of British Columbia and Okanagan College are collaborating to see how sustainable building technologies can be used to reduce the energy used in new homes in the Interior.Karin Eger-Blenk Sept 2015

The Wilden Living Lab initiative will see two homes built in Kelowna’s Wilden subdivision on lots made available by the Blenk Development Corporation. One home will be built to current building code standards. The other will incorporate additional sustainable building technologies.

Local builder AuthenTech Homes will identify the additional technologies and undertake construction in cooperation with Okanagan College’s Construction Management Program. Researchers from UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering will then monitor and compare the energy use of both homes over the next three years and report their findings.

The result - real world data that shows prospective homebuilders and homebuyers what can be built in the Okanagan.

Blenk Development Director Karin Eger-Blenk says her company has long had an interest in sustainability. With geothermal heating and cooling already available in Wilden, her company is interested in seeing what else can be added into the mix.

“To make sustainable building practices and increased energy efficiency the norm, we need partners and suppliers who can help make new technologies affordable, even for first-time homebuyers,” says Eger-Blenk. “With the support of the Living Lab, we would like to speed up the progress we’ve already made in our initiative and get closer to a cleaner future.”

In addition to making two building lots available for the project, Eger-Blenk’s company is also providing support for the home planning and building as well as $62,850 to the Living Lab’s research fund.

Working alongside the tradespeople at AuthenTech Homes is a great way to help educate the homebuilders of tomorrow, says Andrew Hay, vice-president of Education at Okanagan College. Students at the college have lent their skills to nearly 50 projects in the Okanagan since 2004.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to apply green building principles, technology, and techniques at the forefront of sustainable construction today,” says Hay. “We are very excited about the opportunities for our students to be engaged in applied research and construction, as they will gain truly useful insights into how to minimize environmental impacts and maximize energy efficiency before and after construction.”

The Living Lab is not a new concept at UBC. The university continually seeks partnerships in its applied research efforts. “One of the unique things about UBCO is the degree to which it has partnered with community and industry stakeholders,” says UBCO’s Vice-President of Research Phil Barker. “We are grateful that companies continue to step forward to partner with us and take advantage of the intellectual power available here. We are keen to build on our community engagement and leverage the research being conducted here.”

There are opportunities for more industry partners to participate in the project as the Living Lab will is looking for sustainable products, materials and services to incorporate in construction. Prospective partners can learn more by attending an industry open house being hosted by the Canadian Homebuilders Association on Thursday, September 10 at 132 Skycourt from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

Bloom and Martyr takes 2015 John Lent Poetry-Prose Award
Okanagan College Media Release

Helen Hajnoczky Sept 2015Kalamalka Press merrily announces that the fourth annual John Lent Poetry-Prose Award goes to Montreal-based writer Helen Hajnoczky. The winner of the Lent  

Her chapbook
, Bloom and Martyr, was selected from nearly 40 manuscripts.

“The quality of submissions was stupidly high this year. It was such a privilege to read them all and such torment to have to choose only one for the crown,” notes Kevin McPherson, managing editor of Kalamalka Press and English professor at Okanagan College. “But Helen’s work is singular in its courage to invent sounds and imagery that pulse across the page and plants itself right into a reader’s neural pathways.”

Hajnoczky’s first book, Poets and Killers, was published with Snare Books in Montreal, while her poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies published across Canada.
Magyarázni, her second full-length poetry collection, will appear next year from the illustrious Coach House Books.

“I'm so honoured that my work was chosen!” writes Hajnoczky. “Nikki Sheppy, whose chapbook Grrrrlhood: A ludic suite won the John Lent Poetry-Prose award in 2013, and Natalie Simpson, whose work received honourable mention that same year, were the biggest influences on this work, so it's especially thrilling to have part of Bloom and Martyr chosen this year.”

The award continues to be judged by the writerly triad, Laisha Rosnau, kevin mcpherson eckhoff, and Jake Kennedy, who just published his third full-length poetry collection,
Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt by Children at Play.

The judges also selected a runner-up,
Biceps the Size of Tort Law in Singapore: The Minutes (XXV-XXXIII) by Alessandro Porco, and a shortlist of honourable mentions: Leather Heart by Trystan Carter, Ordinary Attrition by Cameron Anstee, and The Story from Here by Paul Hong.

Hajnoczky will receive an honorarium of $500, while her manuscript will be printed as a letterpress chapbook designed by English professor and award-winning bookmaker, Jason Dewinetz, and made by students in Okanagan College’s Writing and Publishing Diploma program in the spring of 2016.

A handful of copies of last year’s winner,
Wearing Your Pants by Nicholas Papaxanthos, as well as Okanagan College’s 3-Hour Short Story winner, Jesse Frechette’s Lost Control, are still available for purchase through the press’s website,
Eleanor Wachtel and Elizabeth Hay to headline Shuswap Bookfest
Okanagan College Media Release

Eleanor Wachtel Sept 2015Okanagan College’s inaugural Shuswap Bookfest is bringing two internationally renowned writers to Salmon Arm - Eleanor Wachtel, host of CBC Radio’s Writers & Company, on Oct. 1, and Elizabeth Hay, winner of the Giller Prize for her novel Late Nights on Air, on Oct. 2.

Both presentations take place at the Salmar Classic Theatre and begin at 7 p.m.

Shuswap Bookfest is a community event that aims to bring book lovers and writers together and build public dialogue and discussion. The events take place over the course of two evenings and kick off with Wachtel’s unique talk entitled
The Lives of Writers, which will include interview clips with great writers and will look at several aspects of the relationship between the writer, their work and the readers. The event will be moderated by Okanagan College Professor Dr. Tim Walters.

Hay will be introducing her new book His Whole Life and will be stage-interviewed
by Okanagan College Professor of English Dr. Alix Hawley, whose latest book “All True Not a Lie in It” won the First Novel Award in 2015.
Elizabeth Hay Sept 2015

The audience will have an opportunity to engage with the presenters in a question-and-answer period following each event.

Copies of Hay’s latest book will be for sale in the lobby of the Salmar Classic, and she will be available for autographs following the event.

Tickets are priced at $20 per person or $10 for seniors (aged 65 or older) and students. Tickets for both nights are $30 per person or $15 for seniors and students and are available at both Salmar Theatre box offices, Wearabouts Clothing, the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College and online at

The Prestige Harbourfront Resort has special room rates available for audience members from out of town.

The Shuswap Bookfest is possible thanks to the support of the Rotary Club of Salmon Arm and the Prestige Harbourfront Resort. Community partners include the Shuswap Writers Association and the Salmar Community Association.

Renowned editor-turned-author Douglas Gibson to speak at free College events
Okanagan College Media Release

Douglas Gibson Sept 2015Armed with a sharpened pencil and the weight of words, a discerning editor’s role must also respect the integrity of an author’s intentions. No easy feat when editing the works of Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Alice Munro and Pierre Trudeau.

Douglas Gibson, who has had one of the most remarkable editing careers in Canadian literary history, will take the stage at Okanagan College in two performances of his penned collection of memoirs,
Stories about Storytellers.

The public is invited to attend the free events on Tuesday Sept.15 at 7:00 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus Lecture Theatre, and on Wednesday Sept.16 at 3:30 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre at the Vernon campus.

“The Department of English is very pleased to have a figure of Douglas Gibson’s stature join us to talk about his experiences in the publishing industry,” says Dr. Matt Kavanagh, Chair of Okanagan College’s English Department. “We’re especially excited to introduce a new generation of students to one of the editors most responsible for putting Canadian literature on the map.”

Gibson’s works read like a library of Canada’s biggest literary names, an amalgamation of his 40-year career that included roles as an editor, publisher, and ultimately president of McClelland & Stewart Publishing House. In 1991 he was awarded the Canadian Booksellers Association President’s Award, and in 2005 was the recipient of the Editor of the Year Award.

In a role reversal, the editor/publisher-turned-author recognizes that in theory authoring a book should have been easy for him, but quite the contrary. Even he, who had edited more than a hundred books and published countless others, was not immune to a case of writer’s block.

But like all good tales, the stories eventually took shape and had a beginning.
Stories about Storytellers has been acclaimed for its wittiness, modesty, and delightful tales. It’s no surprise that the one and only Alice Munro, the first Canadian female author to win a Nobel Prize in literature, penned Gibson’s introduction. Munro called it “my prize read for people interested in books, writers, Canada, life, and all that kind of thing.”

Following the success of
Stories about Storytellers, later this month Gibson will release his second collection of memoirs about Canada’s most prominent authors, Across Canada by Story.

“These two events are an extraordinary opportunity and resource for the College’s English and writing students,” says John Lent, retired Okanagan College Regional Dean of the North Okanagan and acclaimed author. “The Okanagan community and Canadian literature aficionados are bound to find great entertainment in hearing inside information about these iconic writers, from a man who knew them so well.”

For more information about Douglas Gibson, visit
Wilden supports Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Complex to aid and inspire future tradespeople
Okanagan College Media Release

Wilden and OC Team at Wilden Sept 2015The development team behind one of the region’s most prominent master-planned communities has made a major donation to Okanagan College to support the creation of a new student space and help open doors for the next generation of tradespeople.

Blenk Development Corporation (Wilden Development) has pledged $100,000 toward the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the new Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna Campus. The donation will boost both student space and awards, with $75,000 going toward construction of a space in the new three-storey complex where students can meet, study, and relax between classes, and $25,000 to be utilized to establish an award fund for trades students.

“We are proud and excited to support Okanagan College in this new chapter of its trades training,” says Russ Foster, President and CEO of Blenk Development Corporation. “We see this as a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community, support the industry we are a part of, and invest in the future of trades in the Okanagan.”

“With more than 160,000 job openings in B.C. in the trades and related occupations projected by 2022, this new leading-edge trades training complex will allow us to train the skilled workers our province needs,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “When our students see local businesses like Wilden stepping up to invest in their futures, it inspires them and demonstrates the value our community places on education.Wilden at OC Sept 2015

The new Trades Training tower along KLO Road is expected to open in the spring of 2016. When completed, it will accommodate more than 2,600 students per year.

Known for their motto “nature inspired living,” Wilden Development wanted to support a space within the complex’s main entrance that would inspire and refresh students, with plenty of natural light and views to green space.

“The theme of the space will be ‘Be Inspired’”, says Wilden Developer Gerhard Blenk, who began developing Wilden in 1995 with the vision of building a master planned community with the least possible impact on surrounding nature.

“We hope that this contribution and the beautiful space it will help to build will inspire students for many years to come.”

The new tower is part of the College’s $33-million 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion that blends new construction and the rejuvenation of older facilities with the overall goal of achieving LEED Platinum standards and net-zero energy usage.

Sustainability was one of the important factors in Wilden’s decision to support the project.

“When the College shared its vision for a sustainable facility, we knew it was a fit with Wilden’s innovative practices and our commitment to working in harmony with nature,” explains Blenk.

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign launched in October 2014. The College is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support, to top up the provincial government’s commitment of $28 million for the project.

More information about opportunities to get involved, including ways to support space within the complex, contribute to existing awards or establish new awards, is available at  
Trades students join forces with firefighters on community project
Okanagan College Media Release

Predator Ridge Project Sept 2015Students and instructors in Okanagan College’s entry-level carpentry/joinery class were joined by Vernon Fire Chief Keith Green and Deputy Fire Chief Jack Blair in Kelowna to hand over a set of custom cabinets for the fire hall at Predator Ridge.

The 12 College students worked on the project as part of their hands-on curriculum in the foundational program and as a result, the Predator Ridge fire hall will be better equipped to support the fire fighters in the region.

“We just can’t thank the students and instructors at Okanagan College enough for their contribution to our fire hall,” said Chief Green. “Station 3 (Predator Ridge) has been operational since the spring but the upstairs area was left unfinished. The students’ handiwork will make the station more functional and will be in our fire station for a long time. Having these beautiful custom-made cabinets is so great for our members and we are so grateful to the students for their support. ”

One of the students who took a leading role in the project was Julia Braun.

“It gave us a real life perspective and understanding of what it will be like doing this kind of work out in the real world,” said Braun. “It’s really cool to be involved in a community project because you feel more invested in your work and it increases the value of a project.”

Braun enrolled in the College program this February after completing the Women in Trades program, which is designed to introduce students to a variety of trades so they can make an informed decision about pursuing further training.

“I really liked a lot of the trades programs here at the College,” she said, “but carpentry just felt right.”

Braun was part of a unique intake of students this year – the class was split with an equal male-to-female ratio. She was surprised to see six other women in the foundation program and felt the learning environment has prepared her for a great career.

“I finish the program this week and am excited to be heading off traveling for a year,” she said. “I’m off to New Zealand and may try to find a way to do some carpentry work while I’m there but I’ll definitely be getting into an apprenticeship when I get back. I’ll be working hard toward my Red Seal.”

There’s an app for that: College and Accelerate Okanagan partner to offer new coding program

Okanagan College Media Release

In an era of smartphones, tablets and mobile computing, applications – apps to most of us - are at the core of making it all happen, but the industry that produces them requires talented and trained developers to turn ideas into on-screen reality.

In response to the exponential growth in app popularity and sector demand, Okanagan College and Accelerate Okanagan have partnered to offer a new Mobile Coding for Android and iOS program starting this fall.

"Accelerate Okanagan received valuable feedback from industry that iOS and Android are the languages most in demand for programming training needs," says Pilar Portela, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. "The format of this specialized training is key to developing local talent which will assist in connecting companies with highly skilled workers."

With room for 16 students, the program is currently accepting applications for an October intake. Four months of part-time classes on evenings and Saturdays will be followed by a five-week practicum with one of the region’s tech companies that Accelerate Okanagan will help students connect with.

"This program answers the expressed needs of the region’s technology sector," says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. "With financial support from the province, we’ve developed a curriculum that will enable students to advance in their careers, and give them the job skills training necessary to excel in the field of app development."

Geared towards individuals currently working in coding, the class schedule will allow them to remain in the workforce.

Students will learn how to create an app for Android and iOS systems that includes responsive and functional technology that can be converted from one platform to another, meaning it is adaptable to be functional on a smartphone, tablet, and desktop computer on multiple operating systems.

The program took shape following a funding announcement made in April by the B.C. Government in support of the regional tech economy. During a press conference in Kelowna, Premier Christy Clark announced $250,000 to be provided to five post-secondary institutions to advance coding skills among the tech sector workforce. Okanagan College received $50,000. Working with Accelerate Okanagan and in consultation with tech leaders, the College has developed this program.

Program admission prerequisite criteria include applicants having some programming experience, a demonstrated foundation in object-oriented programming, a clear understanding of databases (such a MySQL) and libraries, and an established aptitude for math.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to pitch their app idea to Accelerate Okanagan for a chance to earn a scholarship that will help the individual build a business around the app in order get it ready for market.

"We are proud to partner with Okanagan College for this innovative new program that will give young talent the opportunity to excel in the tech industry that is quickly becoming the backbone of our region," says Portela.

For more information and to apply to the program, visit

Smoke proves to be power vampire

Okanagan College Media Release

Smoky skies caused by fires south of the border are affecting much more than visibility, breathing and our appreciation of the region’s scenery: one of the impacts many people may not think about is on solar power arrays.

An example is Okanagan College’s photovoltaic solar array at its Kelowna campus.

A review of data from an online monitoring website (created by SkyFireEnergy, which installed the array for Okanagan College), shows a dramatic reduction in power output between Saturday, Aug. 22 – the last relatively clear day – and the last three days.

On Saturday, Aug. 22 the solar array on the top of the canopy over the outdoor heavy equipment yard at the Kelowna campus produced 1,103 kilowatt-hours of energy. On Sunday – when the smoke from fires south of the border moved in and occluded the skies – the array produced just 462 kilowatt-hours, a reduction of more than 58 per cent. When the smoke lightened a bit Monday, the array was able to produce 715 kilowatt-hours. Tuesday’s skies blotted the sun as well – the array was able to produce 692 kilowatt-hours, a reduction of 37 per cent from Saturday’s output.

The array on top of the canopy includes 793 solar photovoltaic module panels. The outdoor shop covered by the canopy was built as part of the Trades Training Complex renovation and expansion project currently underway along KLO Road.

The 194 kW electrical solar photovoltaic array system is among the largest in the province, only slightly smaller than the 258 kW system built on top of the LEED Platinum certified Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus.

Since being fully commissioned in June, the photovoltaic array on the Kelowna campus has saved about 72 megawatt hours of energy. That’s equal to the amount of energy required to run about 604 computers for a year, or the equivalent of about one-quarter of the energy required to operate the College’s 142-bed Skaha Residence annually.

The array is part of the College’s larger sustainability plan that includes seeking LEED certification for its buildings and striving for the esteemed Living Building Challenge standards. Achieving energy net zero will require the College to produce as much energy as is consumed; the College is targeting to reduce its net carbon emissions by 80 tons per year, and is already well underway. From 2007 to 2013 the College successfully reduced its energy consumption per square metre by 32.2 per cent.

Registration open for new College conference focused on connected classrooms

Technology and connectivity in the classroom are remarkably changing methods of teaching and learning, leading education institutions to adapt to new models in order to stay ahead of the curve.

On Sept. 25 and 26 Okanagan College will host a new conference titled Tiltshift – an acronym for “technology in learning and teaching”– that will explore technology tools and innovative ideas to help the education community acclimate to new teaching platforms.

“From Skype to web-based software, video production and iPads, understanding how students use technology and how to maximize this knowledge to benefit their learning is imperative for the advancement of education and career preparation,” says Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Teaching at Okanagan College. “Our aim with the conference is to broaden the perspective on where educational technology is heading.”

The conference will provide alternative perspectives for education, and the practical uses of technology in classrooms and course curriculum design. The interactive and demonstrative sessions will explore online learning, new tools and resources available, and technology leadership.

Leaders and innovators from the Okanagan’s thriving technology, business, and education community, and the general public, are invited to join in this exciting dialogue by registering to attend the Tiltshift Education Technology conference. Online registration is open at A $50 conference fee applies.

Held at the College’s Kelowna campus, Tiltshift will kick-off the evening of Sept. 25 with a keynote address by Mount Royal University Associate Professor Dr. Norm Vaughan. A published author, he has expertise in blended learning solutions (the combination of online and in-class courses) and faculty development.

The conference will continue with a full day of breakout sessions and presentations on Saturday Sept. 26. The day also includes a second keynote address by Penticton speaker and author Nikos Theodosakis who is the founder of the OliveUs Education Society and the architect of the Instill Life: Preserving Your Culture programs. He is an advocate for shaping education experiences that are personal, relevant and meaningful.

“We’ve seen technology provide tremendous benefits to our students, resulting in accessible education that circumvents barriers to learning, including time, geography and finances,” says Laura Eagen, Director of IT Services at Okanagan College.

Eagen points to the example of an open online Applied Sustainability course the College previously offered. Technology made the online course possible; more than 100 students from communities across the province, country, and abroad participated, including individuals in remote regions who would have faced a geographical and time barrier otherwise to attend. The six-week course also highlighted how technology inspired shifted views on assessment. Using a gamification model, students strived to achieve different levels to advance to new content much like what you would experience in a video game.

“The speed at which technology is advancing may mean some educators don’t necessarily know which resources are now available to them, or the effective uses for them,” says Eagen. “We wanted to offer a forum to allow experts in the community, and educators, to engage in conversations about how to advance the learning environments we provide, ultimately benefitting students, and the future workforce.”

For additional information including details of the session topics, please visit the Tiltshift website: