Previous Posts(10)
College Alumnus helps trades students plug into cutting edge classroom and financial skills training
Nickoli and Perrott earn College’s Alumni Association top honours
Inland donation drives home local industry support for Okanagan College’s trades campaign
Trio of Okanagan College business students seek votes in the Economist’s competition
A recipe for success, College alumnus wins big at investors’ forum
Support from regional media helps Okanagan College spread the word about trades training complex campaign
College team captures first in case competition
College, Faculty reach tentative agreement
Emil Anderson Construction helps Okanagan College students step into heavy-duty classroom
Artwork submissions deadline for Earth Matters art competition extended
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College Alumnus helps trades students plug into cutting edge classroom and financial skills training
Okanagan College Media Release

The current generation of students needs to feel that the community is behind them and invested in their futures, says an Okanagan College alumnus whose donation is helping build a new learning environment at the College’s Kelowna campus.DKL April 2015

Dale Lamb, President of D.K.L. Financial Services Inc., has donated $50,000 towards to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign. Lamb’s support will help build a state-of-the-art classroom space in the new Trades Training Complex currently under renovation and expansion along KLO Road. 

“Having called the Okanagan valley home for the past 36 years, I believe it’s important to give back locally,” says Lamb. “When I heard about the new trades facilities at Okanagan College and the way this space would elevate training to a whole new level for students in our community, I thought ‘What a great way to show my own children that giving back is important.

“I see this as an opportunity not just to support students, but also to inspire young people—and everyone in our community—that whether it’s a few dollars or thousands, by giving back and paying it forward, we can all have an impact.”

“The new trades training complex is going to help us be proactive in training new apprentices and staying out in front of the province-wide skills gap projected in the trades sector over the next decade,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We sincerely appreciate Dale Lamb’s investment in our students’ futures with this generous donation and through his active involvement in mentorship at the College.”

There's one key set of tools that all trades students need but won’t find in a tool box, says Lamb: the tools to manage their money.

Which is why, in addition to making a donation toward the Building for Skills campaign, Lamb has also stepped up to sponsor a series of financial literacy and money management presentations for students. He notes that trades students especially, as they step into high-paying employment that often involves complicated contracts and work in and out-of-province, should learn a few key money management skills specific to their sector and type of employment.

“We have many clients who are tradespeople, so we understand the specific challenges and pitfalls they can face if they don’t have a solid understanding of how to manage their earnings right off the bat,” explains Lamb. 

“We hope this series will be very informative for students and gets them excited about planning ahead for their futures as they step out into the workforce, or upgrade their skills at the College to take their careers to the next level.”

Lamb studied business at Okanagan College before pursuing a Bachelor of Arts with a focus on business economics and statistics at the University of Victoria. Over the past 20 years as an advisor affiliated with Sun Life Financial, and running his own brand D.K.L. Financial, Lamb has been a leader and one of the top performers in the financial field, not only in Canada, but also worldwide.

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. The provincial government has committed $28 million.

Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in BC. When completed in spring of 2016, the new complex will be one of the largest, most sustainable trades training facilities in Western Canada. To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit
Nickoli and Perrott earn College’s Alumni Association top honours
Okanagan College Media Release

Embodying true ambassadorship for our region, two outstanding Okanagan College alumni are being recognized by the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) for their exceptional contributions to the communities in which they live.  

Sareena Nickoli April 2015Vernon’s Sareena Sharma Nickoli is this year’s recipient of the OCAA Distinguished Alumni Award that recognizes excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and/ or support for Okanagan College. Kelowna’s John Perrott will receive the OCAA Young Alumni Award, an award celebrating the outstanding contributions of an alumnus who is under the age of 35. 

Their combined achievements in promoting economic development for the Okanagan, significant charitable contributions, commitment to volunteering for the betterment of the community, and their consistent positive can-do attitudes have earned them the OCAA’s top honours.

Nickoli, Director of Purchasing and Marketing at Vernon’s City Furniture & Appliances is a 2001 Bachelor of Business Administration graduate, and in 2003 she returned to the College to pursue an Interior Decorating Certificate that equipped her to excel in the family furniture business. 

Never one to sit idle, Nickoli is also a leading Zumba Fitness instructor helping many in the community move to the rhythm and dance their way to a healthier lifestyle. She recently launched Vernon’s Soul Studio, where she teaches four fitness and dance classes a week plus workshops, and manages a team of instructors, on top of her career with City Furniture. 

Leveraging her passion for Zumba fitness she has organized multiple Zumbathons that have helped raise tens-of-thousands of dollars for the new maternity tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, and to help purchase land for the Habitat for Humanity Vernon chapter. She has sat on the Board of the Downtown Vernon Association, volunteered with the Queen Silver Excellence programs mentoring young dancers, is a member of the Vernon Women in Business, and been a guest speaker at Women’s Enterprise Center and Community Futures events.

“I am humbled, I was taken aback when I found out about the award,” shares Nickoli. “I do things because I love to do them and to help out. Having inspired people to get fit and give back to their community along the way has been very rewarding.”

Young Alumni Award recipient Perrott graduated from the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration in 2003, specializing in Marketing. John Perrott April 2015

Early in his career, Perrott demonstrated civic dedication through his work with the Downtown Kelowna Association, first as the Marketing Director, and eventually as Executive Director. He immersed himself into creating a better sense of place for the city’s residents, and visitors, and as a result has been invited to speak at conferences as an expert on various downtown management topics.

Staying on the civic path, today Perrott is the District of West Kelowna’s Economic Development Officer. Pioneering this role he is paving the way in generating economic growth, including promoting tourism through the creation of the Westside Wine Trail and Westside Farm Loops for the District.

Giving back to his community, Perrott currently serves on the Board of Directors for Creative Okanagan and has volunteered with Central Okanagan non-profit organization The Bridge Youth and Family Services, has served as Chair of the Exceptional Service Under the Sun Award committee, been the Vice President of the Business Improvement Area Association of British Columbia, and previously served as a Services Canada Employment Insurance Board of Referees member.

“It’s an honour to be recognized with this award, especially when you consider the esteemed list of business and community leaders who have earned the distinction in years past,” says Perrott. “It’s a real privilege to join their circle.” 

“Both Sareena and John have accomplished a great deal in their careers to date,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, Okanagan College Alumni Association. “We believe that the contributions to their communities and industries sets a standard that all current and future Okanagan College alumni should strive toward. They are a true testament to the exceptional educational and experiential foundation provided by the College.”

Nickoli and Perrott’s achievements will be celebrated at the Okanagan College Alumni Association awards ceremony and reception at the College’s Kelowna campus on October 15, 2015. For more information about the awards and previous years’ recipients, please visit
Inland donation drives home local industry support for Okanagan College’s trades campaign
Okanagan College Media Release

Inland Donation April 2015Engines were revving and the crowd was cheering as a big cheque was presented to Okanagan College at Inland Kenworth’s open house on Saturday.

Inland has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizon’s Building for Skills Campaign. “The Smoking Gun”, a 1968 Canadian Kenworth diesel drag semi, roared in the background as the Inland team presented the cheque to Okanagan College Foundation’s John Haller at the company’s West Kelowna location on Ross Road.

The donation will help build a bay in the new three-storey Trades Training Complex currently under construction along KLO Road. 

“The new trades training complex will elevate the Southern Interior as a hub for trades training, by providing students with a world-class facility to match the high quality of instruction that Okanagan College has offered for more than fifty years,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We’re very grateful to Inland for investing in the future of our students and our campus.”

“We’re very proud to call the Okanagan home,” says Boyd McConnachie, vice president of business development at Inland. “It is key to the economy that local businesses and organizations work together to develop our own homegrown talent.” 

Inland originated in the Okanagan over 65 years ago, with operations in Vernon, Penticton and Kamloops. The West Kelowna facility is the most recent addition, opening for business last fall. Inland now owns dealerships throughout Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and B.C. and the Yukon Territories in Canada. 

The BC-based company is a strong supporter of apprenticeship. As a way of promoting and encouraging Red Seal Training, Inland provides apprentices with tools, mentorship, and other support to help them begin their careers. 

“Inland is well known for employees who spend their whole careers with the company,” says Kent Brownlow, vice president of human resources at Inland. “To hold on to that loyalty, we must invest in training and provide opportunities for our employees to continuously learn and improve their skills and expertise.” 

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The project includes a 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion, including new construction and bringing the College’s existing shops and classroom spaces up to LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge standards. When doors open in 2016, the new facility will accommodate over 2,400 students, almost doubling capacity for trades training at the Kelowna campus. Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in B.C.

The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project. The goal of the campaign is to top this up by raising $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support—which includes entrance awards and other assistance to help students start training.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit
Trio of Okanagan College business students seek votes in the Economist’s competition
Okanagan College Media Release

Find a company that you think has the potential to fail. Langille, Vnadergaag, Loyd April 2015

Wait, let’s make it a little harder: find a company that is currently valued at billions of dollars that you think has the potential to fail within five years. Explain why you think it may fail.

Next, let’s have you do it in a venue that is international, in an event sponsored by the world’s leading business magazine, The Economist.

That was the challenge facing three Okanagan College students, whose submission to The Economist’s student case competition is to be found online among 17 other submissions from business schools from around the globe, including the US, Finland, Hong Kong and Britain. The only other Canadian team entered is from Carleton University. The American competitors include teams from Kent State, Loyola, Rutgers, the University of Colorado, Texas Tech University, and San Jose State University. 

Officially the competition is called “Find a Zero: Which Billion Dollar Company Will be Bankrupt by 2020" and is sponsored by Kerrisdale Capital Investment. (Kerrisdale Capital is an investment management firm based in New York that is known to publically engage in the practice of “short selling” securities. Short selling involves researching and anticipating declines in the value of shares in order to capitalize on the drop in price.)

The purpose of the competition is for students to research and identify business strategies used by actual companies that may be over-valued in the markets. First prize in the competition is $15,000 US. The entire prize package totals $26,000 US, including a $3,000 people’s choice award.  

Coached by Okanagan College Professor Dr. Yunke He (a CFA Charterholder), Karen Vandergaag and her teammates, David Langille and Curtis Loyd spent countless hours in the two-week window they had for the competition looking at various sectors, before settling on the telecommunications industry. From there, it was a review of major players until they settled on a prospect.

“The task was daunting,” explains Vandergaag. “First we needed to zero in on a sector or an industry and then search out one of the larger players and test its strength and stability, looking for issues with the company’s business strategy and its valuation, watching for disruptive forces and trends within the company’s sector.”

The trio of fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration students put together a compelling case about why they think the company may find itself in deep financial trouble by 2020. Their argument focuses on the practice of growing through acquisitions, and its effect on a company that is already highly leveraged, participating in an industry that requires ongoing transitions to new technology to remain competitive. 

“We’ll learn in May what the judges of the competition think of our choice and case submission,” says Loyd. “Hopefully our case will be compelling and will resonate with the judges.”

“It was an intense undertaking,” says Langille. “It was a great chance to put the analytical skills and knowledge developed through our studies to work.”

“Case studies such as this are an integral part of the academic experience at Okanagan College,” explains Dr. Heather Banham, the College’s Dean of the School of Business. “We encourage students to participate because, as in this instance, it gives them a chance to put what they learn to work.”

“This case competition is particularly interesting because it is a different approach, with the students asked to look for a company that may be about to experience failure,” adds Banham. “It is important to realize that their analysis is an academic exercise. The companies identified by the teams in this competition may already have plans to deal with perceived weaknesses.”

To view and vote for the Okanagan College team’s entry visit
A recipe for success, College alumnus wins big at investors’ forum
Okanagan College Media Release

Donnie Ungaro 2015Hungry for business, Okanagan College alumnus Donnie Ungaro credits making calculated business decisions, following his passion, and serendipitous timing as a few of the keys to his recent success at Venture Okanagan. 

Ungaro took top spot at the local investors forum held last week at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. Presenting in front of more than 90 spectators and business leaders, Ungaro successfully pitched his business Culinary Ink—a socially conscious comfort food business powered by bicycle—to a panel of Angel investors. He was rewarded with the grand prize of $5,000 from title sponsor Grant Thornton LLP to put towards the developing business. 

“The win couldn’t have come at a better time,” shared Ungaro. “I recently decided to commit my time completely to the launch and growth of this business. It’s a validation of my decisions and of the company’s potential.”

A graduate of Okanagan College’s School of Business, and also recipient of the Young Alumni Award in 2014, Ungaro acknowledges that the Bachelor of Business Administration degree he earned in 2003 provided a sound foundation. 

“It goes beyond the tangible degree, it’s the people you meet that is the greatest value. You maybe don’t realize this as a student, but I can attest that the community at the College was instrumental in bringing Culinary Ink to life,” noted Ungaro, adding that beyond the mentorship from instructors, and networking opportunities, he is currently interviewing College alumni to potentially join the company. He even chuckles to mention he met his wife indirectly via the College community.

Initially, Ungaro started a thriving career in insurance, but the tragic loss of his father in 2006 led him to self-reflect on pursuing a career he was passionate about, not just a job that paid well. He gained some training in culinary school, apprenticed with top chefs, including Chef Rod Butters of Kelowna’s Raudz Regional Table, and started building the concept.

As an entrepreneur, Ungaro calls the Venture Okanagan prize a nice buffer to help launch his company, though there’s no slowing down now. He’s already appropriated the funds, that includes having booked a booth at the upcoming Canadian College and University Food Services Association trade show (to be held in June in Kelowna). 

“I’m hoping having a presence there could help lock in additional contracts to be at colleges across Canada and operate the company on a franchise model.”

Culinary Ink launches this month, and beginning April 25 two food bikes located at the College’s Kelowna campus will serve up dishes including taco al pastor, served in a “taco cone” made of naan, and chipotle mac ‘n’ cheese with pulled pork. Ungaro says they are dishes you can feel good about eating since 10 per cent of all sales will be donated to support three local charities: the Kelowna Food Bank, Metro Community and Soles4Souls.

“Donnie exemplifies what we see in many of our graduates at the College. They are bold, smart, innovative and creative,” said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “The Venture Okanagan competition was very steep. It’s an exceptionally proud moment to have one of our alumni recognized by the business community at an event held right here on our campus.” 

In addition to Culinary Ink, other pitches included Motivation Engine, VO2 Master, Visland Media, Illuminous Laser System, and X Co. Venture Okanagan is a private sector entity investors’ forum that is organized collectively by the Okanagan Angel Investor Network and Enactus Okanagan College. It is made possible with support from title sponsors Grant Thornton and the Business Development Bank of Canada. 

“The entrepreneurial spirit in the Okanagan is alive and well,” noted Steven Watson, Okanagan College business professor and Venture Okanagan Chair. “Venture Okanagan brings the community together – entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and students. There definitely is an appetite by investors to hear these business ideas.”

To the budding entrepreneurs for which the Okanagan is quickly becoming known for, Ungaro shares his advice: “passion, education, experience and purpose. The success is in putting your heart into it.”

Photo credit: Pinstripe Productions

Support from regional media helps Okanagan College spread the word about trades training complex campaign
Okanagan College Media Release

Media outlets across the valley are helping Okanagan College to spread the word about the fundraising campaign behind the renovation and expansion of the $33-million Trades Training Complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus—and the added awareness has helped to bring in some life-changing support for students.

Global News, Shaw, Bell Media, Black Press, Daily Courier, and Castanet have donated over $385,000 collectively in advertising and media support to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Fundraising campaign. The goal of the campaign is to raise $7 million: $5 million for renovation and construction on the new three-storey trades tower along KLO Road, and $2 million for program and student support, which includes bursaries and other assistance to help students enter into trades programs.

“With a province-wide skills shortage projected across the trades sector, Okanagan College is renovating and expanding our facilities to train ahead of that need and help thousands of new tradespeople get job-ready,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We truly appreciate how the region’s media has bolstered our efforts to raise awareness about this project.”

Bell Media has donated over $158,000, Black Press has contributed over $77,000, Global Okanagan and Shaw have jointly contributed $100,000, The Daily Courier has contributed $30,000, and Castanet $25,000 in donated media support.

According to the campaign team, the media’s added support in sharing stories about the trades expansion has been crucial for showcasing how the community can get involved and the positive impact that their donations will have on future students. 

“When you consider that the new complex will be able to accommodate over 2,400 students per year, the ripple effect of those students entering the workforce, supporting their families, and contributing to our local economy is immense,” says Campaign Chair, Dennis Gabelhouse. “Our donors are contributing to that ripple effect—their donation is a direct investment in the future of a student working to attain his or her dream and build a rewarding life for themself.”

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign kicked off in October and construction is currently in progress on the 10,000 sq. metre expansion and renovation. The new trades training complex is slated to open in Spring of 2016. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

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

Quotes from media partners:Hamilton, Hinchliffe, Gabelhouse

“Global Okanagan and Shaw are thrilled to support more opportunities for students in trades,” says Derek Hinchliffe, Station Manager & News Director, Global Okanagan. “We are honoured to participate in this important community initiative and look forward to developing strong ties with Okanagan College.”

Derek Hinchliffe
Station Manager & News Director, Global Okanagan


Hamilton, Hill, McAuliffe, Gabelhouse

"The Capital News & Black Press are proud to partner with Okanagan College on the Bright Horizon's campaign. Trades are a vital part of this community and the communities throughout the province of B.C., this facility will provide opportunities to prepare skilled trades workers for years to come."

Karen Hill
Publisher, Kelowna Capital News


Hamilton, Armstong, Gabelhouse

"This is an exciting time at Okanagan College, and we're thrilled to help share this success story throughout the valley," said Terry Armstrong, publisher of The Daily Courier. "Expanding and renovating the Trades Training Complex into a modern, state-of-the-art facility is strengthening our valley's future. It's giving students access to some of the best facilities around, and we're so very pleased to offer our support."

Terry Armstrong
Vice President & Group Publisher
The Okanagan Valley Newspaper Group
College team captures first in case competition
Okanagan College Media Release

OC HR Team Apr 2015Three Okanagan College business students impressed judges at the TRU Human Resources Management Case Competition last week, taking first place in a high-pressure challenge that put their business knowledge to the test.

Erika Swanson, Brandi Antonucci and Kirsten Schmid won the competition, finishing ahead of competitors from the host school, Thompson Rivers University, as well as teams from BCIT and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. 

The students are all pursuing Bachelor of Business Administration degrees at the College and all specializing in human resources management. 

Swanson came to Okanagan College from Selkirk College; she transferred in after completing two years at home in the Kootenays. She’s set to graduate this spring and will pursue a career in human resources. 

“I was a little bit nervous coming to Okanagan College,” said the 23-year-old. “I wasn’t sure if I would fit in because I started the program part-way through but it is such a good school. I would recommend the College to anyone, the business program is so strong and well respected.”

Though she’s been at Okanagan College for two years, Swanson had never taken part in a business competition outside of the classroom, until her experience at the TRU competition. 

She says the competition really challenged her to work well under pressure, and to apply her knowledge in a very practical way. 

Competitors were each given a case study on a real business situation and were challenged to create a 15-minute power point presentation for a panel of judges. The teams each had one hour to prepare before presenting. 

“We presented last so we didn’t get to see any of the other team’s presentations,” said Swanson. “Maybe that was a good thing, I think it helped us focus on what we were doing.”

After facing a few questions from judges, the team from Okanagan College was declared the winner of the competition. 

“I’m very proud of the team’s result,” said Laura Thurnheer, Chair of Business Administration and co-coach of the College team. “Our students consistently perform well in these kinds of challenges. This marks the second time a team from the College has finished in the top three at this competition. It speaks volumes about the quality of our program and the graduates we produce.”
College, Faculty reach tentative agreement
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Faculty Association, representing approximately 255 professors have reached a tentative local agreement.

The two parties reached the agreement March 28 following an agreement in early February between the Post-Secondary Employers Association and with faculty of several institutions represented by the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC (FPSE). Okanagan College, Camosun College, College of New Caledonia, College of the Rockies, Douglas College, North Island College, Northwest Community College and Selkirk College were among those institutions whose faculty were represented by FPSE in the provincial settlement.

The tentative provincial template settlement is for a five-year term beginning April 1, 2014. It includes a 5.5 per cent wage increase over the five years with potential for additional increases if the B.C. economy exceeds the annual forecasts set by the Economic Forecast Council during the last four years of the agreement.

Dates for the College Board of Governors and the Faculty Association to consider the tentative settlement have yet to be determined.
Emil Anderson Construction helps Okanagan College students step into heavy-duty classroom
Okanagan College Media Release

EAC Donation April 2015Prompted by the looming skills gap across the trades sector, a local construction company has thrown its support behind the $33-million project to expand and renovate the trades training complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

Emil Anderson Construction has made a $50,000 donation to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign. The company’s donation has enabled the College to build and outfit a new classroom in the heavy mechanical trades shop, which integrates new technology and equipment into the learning space.

“We know there is a coming shortage of tradespeople, and we’re very proud to support the College’s efforts to train new apprentices so we can stay out in front of that skills gap,” says Mike Jacobs, President & CEO of Emil Anderson Construction.

“As a company, we need heavy-duty mechanics and other tradespeople, so we are sensitive to the need to encourage young people to enter the trades. Without them, how are we as a society going to build roads, bridges, buildings—all our key infrastructure?”

“The new trades training complex will provide our students with learning environments that are truly modern,” says Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President of Education. “We are very grateful to Emil Anderson Construction, and to all our donors, for investing in our students’ educational experiences. It sends a powerful message to our students that local industry is behind them.”

When completed in spring of 2016, the new three-storey complex along KLO Road will be one of the largest, most sustainable trades training facilities in Western Canada, accommodating over 2,400 students per year. In addition to the new building, the College is currently renovating existing shops and classrooms, rejuvenating decades-old facilities to meet the complex’s overall goal of achieving LEED Platinum and Living Building Standards.

Upgrades to the heavy mechanical trades shop were completed in summer 2013, including the construction of a 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space, which is covered by a canopy housing one of the province’s largest arrays of photovoltaic solar panels. The new heavy-duty classroom features built-in heavy-duty equipment and technology, offering a blend of shop and classroom learning.

Emil Anderson Construction is a fourth generation family construction business based in Kelowna that specializes in highway construction, paving, design build projects, site development, land development and housing. 

Jacobs notes that for many years he has witnessed students being steered away from trades training in favour of other post-secondary education, a trend which he sees as problematic given the provincial and federal government’s projections for a major skills gap in trades and technically trained workers over the next decade.

“We have supported many local projects and organizations—from the Mission Creek Greenway to the YMCA,” explains Jacobs. “And this project is another vital one for our community. We absolutely need to get young people into trades. The opportunities are huge for them right now with a wave of retirements coming among experienced tradespeople.”

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. To date, over $3.6 million has been raised. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit
Artwork submissions deadline for Earth Matters art competition extended
Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Earth Matters event, an environmental art competition and symposium, has been rescheduled to the fall.

New and experienced Okanagan artists can submit their artwork by October 20, 2015. A symposium and award event recognizing the winning art pieces will follow in mid-November. 

The artistic event aims to highlight the correlation between intellect and creative expression in the natural and social sciences. 

Artists can participate in two categories: secondary school students in Grades 10 to 12 and a second category for any adults age 18 and older. The art entries must reflect on one of the four themes—biodiversity, water resources, waste, climate change – which will be the focus of the academic symposium.

Prizes for the winner in each category include a $500 tuition bursary for the secondary school division, and the adult open category winners will receive a one-day workshop with internationally acclaimed nature artist Terry Isaac at his studio in Penticton.

Details about the symposium, and winning entries will be made available in the fall. For more information about the Earth Matters competition, including artwork submission guidelines, please visit
College passes $95-million balanced budget
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s Board of Governors has passed a $94.95 million operating budget for the coming fiscal year.

“We have passed a balanced operating budget that allows us to continue to provide programs and services throughout the region, without any service reductions or layoffs,” explains Okanagan College Board of Governors Chair Tom Styffe.

“It wasn’t easy, and we are looking to departments and our staff to find some significant savings in a variety of areas,” observed Styffe.

“When we first reviewed our budget for the coming year, we were facing a seven-digit issue, created by a number of pressures. Administration and staff have found ways to increase revenue through growth in some areas, and means to pare expenditures that allow us to balance the budget.”

The Board’s budget included provision for increased tuition revenue, both from growth in the number of international students and Continuing Studies activity and from a two per cent increase in tuition rates. 

For a full-time student taking university transfer arts, the increase will add about $32.67 per semester, bringing a semester’s tuition to $1,666.11. For a student taking the office assistant program, the increase will add about $42.82 for the program (total tuition of $2,183.79). A Level 1 Auto Service Technician apprentice will see tuition increase by about $14.50 to $739.63.

The Board also made a decision to hold off charging fees for either Adult Basic Education or English as a Second Language courses for domestic students for the 2015-16 year. The province recently changed policy to allow public institutions to charge for those program areas, and announced funding reductions, although those were offset with one-time transitional funding for the coming year.

Over the course of the next several months, Okanagan College is to develop a plan for which courses the institution might charge tuition for. The Board will review that plan before implementing any fees.

“We believe it is important to do the research about how ABE and ESL fees may affect our students,” said Styffe. “At a time when so many jobs require higher education, there is a great deal of interest in preserving access to these program areas.”
College event focuses on local community impact on global change
Okanagan College Media Release

Janine Roth March 2015Kelowna resident Janine Roth was raised to recognize that not everyone in the world is as fortunate as most Canadians, and that time truly is the most valuable thing we can all give. 

The 29-year-old Okanagan College International Development diploma student has travelled and contributed to international development aid efforts in Haiti, Uganda, Kenya, Israel, Venezuela, Mexico, and China.

“I wanted to go to these countries to hear and see for myself what those communities needed,” says Roth. “It’s important to focus our development efforts on what the people in those countries tell us they need, versus us going in with our own ideas of what we think they need.”

On April 8 the public is invited to explore the issues developing countries face, and hear from the individuals and organizations in our Okanagan community who are helping transform the lives of those in need. 

The inaugural International Development Night will be hosted at Okanagan College’s Kelowna Campus in the Student Services Building from 4 to 6 p.m. 

Roth travelled to Haiti when she was 19 to volunteer with school children in the community and orphanages, and returned there in 2011 with a group from her Kelowna church to provide further aid and support. It comes as no surprise that prior to pursuing post-secondary education, Roth was named “2010 Volunteer of the Year” by her then-employer, Kelowna-based Disney Interactive Studios Canada. 

“When I worked at Disney, they genuinely fostered my interest in international aid,” adds Roth. “I had the chance to learn from their Corporate Citizenship Program Director, whom I still consider a mentor, and I realized I could turn my love of volunteering into a meaningful career by honing in my skills with some education.”

In winning the volunteerism award through the company, she was awarded a humanitarian aid trip to Kenya affording her the chance to tour and contribute to the various projects with Free the Children that Disney supports. Then, while she was in Haiti, Disney offered her the opportunity to contribute to their ongoing support projects by reviewing and reporting on how the monies were being spent, their impact, and discussing future aid in the community.

“Many of us travel and like to think we are internationally oriented,” says Dr. Rosalind Warner, Chair of Okanagan College’s Political Science Department. “Yet few of us think beyond our day-to-day about how our actions can aid sustainability and development.

“We wanted to create this forum for the community to connect with students, and also to help the general public see all the exciting goodwill projects initiated here that make a real impact in the world.”

The interactive community focused event includes information booths, mini guest lectures (room A125), networking, live music, and light refreshments. It is an opportunity to speak directly with local non-profit organizations about their aid efforts and expand the awareness of the need for individuals to contribute to developing countries beyond our everyday. 

A dozen local non-profit organizations will be in attendance: Hope for the Nations, Partners in the Horn of Africa, Kelowna Zambia Partnership, Developing World Connections, Global Citizen Kelowna, Amnesty International Group 161 Kelowna, Gifts to Grandmothers, World Neighbours Canada, Inter-cultural Women’s Educational Network, Bicycles for Humanity, Potters Without Borders, Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan.
Project Management program earns international approval
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College has earned the designation of Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s largest project management member association. 

R.E.P.s are organizations that have been approved by PMI to help project managers achieve and maintain the Project Management Professional (PMP)®, Program Management Professional (PgMP)® and other PMI professional credentials.  

Okanagan College’s project management programming is offered through its Continuing Studies division. Earning the designation means the College has met the criteria for course content, instructor qualification and instructional design. 

“The shift to project-based work we are seeing in many industries, including finance, technology, construction and health, has helped to make project management an increasingly important field of work, and we have seen strong training demand in our region,” said Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Development at Okanagan College. “Our program receiving this designation means our students are assured their education meets the highest professional standards and can be used to earn professional development units.” 

Okanagan College joins more than 1,500 R.E.P.s in more than 80 countries. These organizations include commercial training providers, academic institutions, and corporate training departments within corporations and government agencies.   

For more information about the College’s Project Management Certificate program, visit the website:
Lovig crushes 10 K record at Okanagan College race
Okanagan College Media Release

LovigMore than 400 runners crossed the finish line on Sunday at Okanagan College’s 13th annual Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay Race in Kelowna.

The women’s 10 K course record was shattered by Kelowna’s Christy Lovig (36:48). Salmon Arm’s Glynis Sim (38:32) finished second and Kelowna’s Martha Sirdevan (42:39) was third.

The men’s 10 K race was won by Greg Edgar (35:49). Second and third place went to the father-son duo of Jacab and Jeremy Harris; they crossed the finish line together with a time of 36:36.

The half marathon men’s race was won by Vernon’s Aaron Heidt (1:14:49). Kelowna runners Jeff Vogt (1:17:19) and Rory Switzer (1:21:09) finished second and third, respectively.

The female half marathon was won by Claire Young (1:26:44), followed by Tracy Dayman (1:33:48) and then Cindy Rhodes (1:34:19), all from Kelowna.

The half marathon relay event was won by a team from Fresh Air Experience in Kelowna. The team of five runners worked together to achieve a time of 1:38:36.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day for this event and the group of runners and volunteers who took part this year were incredible,” said Christine Ulmer, Race Director. “I heard runners saying they couldn’t have experienced better weather for this time of year – it was the perfect temperature and nice and dry. The course was really well managed by a great group of volunteers and as always, our participants brought a huge amount of energy to the event.”

The Okanagan College Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay is an annual not-for-profit event that raises funds to support student bursaries.

Complete race results are available online:

Tech sector forecasts significant demand, nationally and locally
Okanagan College Media Release

More than 6,500 skilled individuals are the driving force of the Okanagan’s billion-dollar tech industry but a recent national report forecasts a shortage of the homegrown talent to fill the demand for tech jobs by 2019.

It is clear there are opportunities in the Okanagan to take advantage of job openings in the rapidly growing tech sector. 

“Youth in our community looking for jobs, need to look no further than the tech sector,” says Phil Ashman, Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “With the right training, hands-on experience, and industry contacts, thriving careers are within grasp for our students.” 

“Since we launched our accelerator programs in 2011,” notes Accelerate Okanagan’s CEO Pilar Portela, “our clients have hired over 360 employees, and we see this growth and demand on the Accelerate Okanagan job board too, which has had more than 55 jobs posted to it this year alone. There is clearly a demand for talent.”

“This is why our partnership with Okanagan College is so important,” continues Portela, “We provide direct access to the needs of the thriving Okanagan technology sector, which allows the College to create innovative curricula that will develop local, highly skilled, high-tech talent.”

In the Labour Market Outlook 2015-2019 report released last week by the Information and Communication Technology Council of Canada, it is estimated there will be a talent supply shortage in filling 182,000 tech jobs in Canada in the next five years.

The growth of the tech sector in the Okanagan can be attributed to strong innovation and startups, but information technology permeates all aspects of the business world.  There are 100,730 British Columbians who work in technology, but of these only 44,000 actually work for a tech-based company. The majority in fact work in other sectors, including finance, health, and energy, providing technology support to the business needs that advance our economy.

Top in-demand jobs expected in the province are computer programmers and interactive media developers, software engineers, and support technicians. Okanagan College is committed to training students to supply this demand by offering three programs, all of which include a co-op component.  

“Through applied learning, our students gain hands-on experience that is valuable as they enter careers in technology,” remarks Ashman. “We are committed to fostering partnerships with industry in our region, and as such we are able to successfully help students find job-opportunities, ultimately helping meet the sector’s demand.” 

The College offers a four-year Computer Information Systems degree and a two-year Computer Information Systems diploma, which include software design and development, database management, development and administration, and incorporates mathematics, business, and communications courses. The programs are offered at the Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon campuses.

The two-year Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology diploma teaches students network infrastructure, telecommunication, and client/server administration, and also includes business courses to ensure students are prepared to tackle tech solutions for the broad range of businesses requiring tech infrastructure. 

"Acro Media is focused on applied skill sets in order to staff our software programming department in Kelowna,” says Becky Parisotto, Senior Project Manager at Acro Media. “The graduates from Okanagan College have been working closely with our business as co-op students, and growing into valuable employees for the past two years.

“The learning we see the students receive is ground-level, focusing on hard skills as opposed to concepts; which marries perfectly for joining our growing work force and resourcing needs,” adds Parisotto. “Their abilities to grasp new concepts with low ego and high work ethic motivates us as a local company to continue to go back to the well of talent at the College for recruitment and hiring.”
Award remembers Okanagan College student and aids another in following his dream
Okanagan College Media Release

Brad Atkins and Harder Family LR March 2015A young man’s dream of becoming an aircraft mechanic and pilot ended when his life was cut short by a tragic accident. Now, the award created in his memory is inspiring another student to pursue the lofty goal they shared.

Brad Atkins of Vernon is the recipient of the first annual Tim Harder Memorial Award, a $1,000 bursary created to support students in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME) program at Okanagan College.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for this award,” says Atkins. “I can’t even put it into words.

“I feel very privileged, and I want to express my deepest thanks to the Harder family and to let them know just how much this award means to me. It takes an incredible weight off my shoulders to know that I have these funds to put towards living expenses and tuition for the rest of my program.” 

During the award presentation at Okanagan College’s Aerospace Campus in Vernon, Tim Harder’s parents, Drs. James and Joyce Harder, reflected on why they chose to establish the award in their son’s memory and their hopes for what it will achieve.

“When Tim died, our family and friends wanted to do something to honour his memory,” explains Joyce Harder. 

“We knew that it had been a struggle for Tim to go back to school after all those years, and so we decided to help other students in a similar situation,” says James Harder. “Okanagan College has been extremely helpful in making this happen.”

Harder was 30 years old when he decided to follow his passion and pursue a career in aviation, enrolling in the AME program at Okanagan College’s Aerospace Campus. He hoped one day to also attain his commercial pilot’s license and fly up north during the summer while pursuing his other passion, ski coaching, during the winter.

Sadly, after completing the first year of the program, Harder perished in a tragic motor vehicle accident. His parents established the annual award in his name through the Okanagan College Foundation; the award is intended to assist mature students enrolled in the AME program.

“Tim Harder brought a lot of life and laughter to the AME program and was great at encouraging fellow classmates to keep their goals in perspective,” says Dale Keegstra, Manager, Aerospace Department, Aircraft Maintenance Engineering M-License. “He was always willing to help out in the shop when someone needed an extra hand to get a job done. Tim had a genuine love for mechanics and the aviation industry.” 

Atkins, who has completed the first 48 weeks of training for the AME M-License through Okanagan College, will now embark for the final 14 weeks of training at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek. 

Like Harder, Atkins also has a great love for the outdoors and for coaching/teaching outdoor skills. Atkins founded his own business, Backcountry Avalanche Awareness, an avalanche skills training company, four years ago and has continued to operate the business while completing his studies at Okanagan College.

“It’s been a challenge returning to school as a mature student, completing my courses while still running my own business,” says Atkins. “But I’m so excited for the career this will allow me to have, and it’s been very fulfilling to be able to continue helping people through education while also continuing my own education.”

The AME program prepares apprentices to certify an aircraft after maintenance, inspection, repair or modification. Training on both rotary wing aircraft (helicopters) and fixed wing aircraft is provided, and covers a wide range of subjects with emphasis on practical training and job-readiness. 

For more information about this and other awards available at Okanagan College, please visit
Trifecta finish for College’s Enactus team at regional competition
Okanagan College Media Release

The winning ways of Okanagan College’s business administration students continue, with podium finishes for three teams at the Enactus Western Canadian regional championships held in Calgary recently.Enactus Entrepreneurship March 2015

A team comprised of five College students won first place at the competition in the entrepreneurship category. Kelowna’s Darren Gillespie, Cooper Simson, Brent Basil and Emilia Muscardin, joined by Pentictonite Suzanne Newton showcased the work they did in a project called Innspire, which benefited Inn from the Cold, a Kelowna homeless shelter. The students developed a social enterprise that focused on sales of repurposed soap to benefit and profile the Chandler House and the issue of homelessness.

The regional competition win means the Entrepreneurship team advances to the national competition in Toronto in May. 

Capturing second place at the competition in the Eco-Living green category were students Abbey Jones, Sakura Hirata, Aaron Gregory, Rob Larkin and Carly Suddard. 

The team’s projects that impressed judges at the event, held in Calgary, included Instill Life and Innspire. Instill Life is a project that puts Enactus Okanagan College students into classrooms to educate Grade 5 and 6 students with interactive workshops on a variety of topics such as financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. The children learn about local foods and agriculture as well as about agricultural entrepreneurs from around the world, they then create greeting cards out of their own personal artwork and are taught how to become entrepreneurs themselves by selling the cards for a profit. This profit is then micro-lent to an entrepreneur of the students’ choice in a developing country.

A third team from Okanagan College placed third in the financial literacy category, comprised of Vernon student Christianne Edbald and Kelowna students Daniel Alfred, Minami Endo, Talasa Larder and Rebecca Alfred. Their projects included two financial literacy programs run for low-income earners called Dollars and Sense and MAPS (Mentorship for All Parents).

"It's amazing to see the passion and determination that our Enactus teams, and the other teams across Canada have for helping those in our communities,” noted Tom Arrowsmith, the President of Enactus Okanagan College. “I couldn't be more proud of the success we have had this year at the regional exhibition, and I look forward to what lies ahead for the Enactus Okanagan College team." 

"This year we brought a very new team to the Enactus regional event and I am very excited that the team once again excelled,” observed Dr. Sheilagh Seaton, faculty advisor with the first-place entrepreneurial team. “It confirms the passion and ability of our students to implement entrepreneurial projects that address the social, economic and environmental needs of our region."  

“The outcomes at regional competition are a testament to the quality of the projects we run across the region and the incredible support we have from our students, institution and the communities we serve,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, faculty advisor for Enactus Okanagan College.”

“The competition results speak to the quality of the effort the students expend on these projects, but the real payback is for our community,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “The projects benefit organizations and move forward the agenda on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and sustainability, and they also provide hands-on learning for students who carry their skills and commitment to these causes into their careers.”

Enactus Okanagan College involves students from each of Okanagan College’s four major campuses. To learn more visit
Benefit of small class-sizes and campus community draws students to College, hear more at upcoming info nights in Vernon and Kelowna
Okanagan College Media Release

Tim Osborne March 2015Good things come in small packages. At Okanagan College the small class sizes at its four local campuses continue to be a differentiator for prospective students.

“Class size is the key piece,” says 32-year-old Vernon student Tim Osborne who is completing his Associate of Arts Degree along with some science foundation courses at the College. “When there are only 10 to 30 students in a class, you have more one-on-one time with your instructors. They genuinely care about your education, helping you learn. I felt they were invested in my success for the future.”

At three upcoming information sessions in Vernon and Kelowna, high-school students, their parents, and anyone considering further studies for additional training or a career change are invited to hear from Okanagan College instructors and students including Osborne about the learning options available to them. The sessions will also provide information about university transfer credits, financial aid and awards, and discuss career options for those pursuing studies in arts, science and business.

The Arts and Science information session will be held on Tuesday March 31 at the Vernon Campus lecture theatre and also on Wednesday April 1 at the Kelowna Campus in the Atrium of the Centre for Learning. A Business program information session will also be held in Vernon (room E102/103) on March 31. All sessions commence at 6 p.m.

Beyond receiving valuable information about programs offered by the College, those in attendance will also have the chance to hear about the academic and social culture on campus.

“The College is a real community,” adds Osborne. “I’ve taken courses at both the Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses. Because of the smaller campuses, the place becomes familiar. It was easy to meet friends and peers to help me study.”

Instructors are also a key part of the College community. Osborne credits the industry-expertise of the faculty for fostering an unexpected interest in sciences for him. He will pursue psychology and English when he transfers to UBC Okanagan next year.

“I’m an arts student, and had no science experience. I took a biology for arts course at the College. The instructor would actually approach students when he felt as though clarity was not fully attained. It was this help and knowledge that helped me achieve one of my highest grades that semester.

“The instructors know you by name. I don’t feel like I am just a number to them.”
Sentes donation continues regional auto dealers’ strong support of trades expansion at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

One of the valley’s most prominent automotive dealers has come forward with a major donation towards the renovation and expansion of Okanagan College’s Trades Training Complex, and the support goes far beyond dollars and cents.OC Trades Launch

Sentes Automotive has pledged $50,000 toward the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign to support a student study space in the new trades tower currently under construction along KLO Road in Kelowna.

“Our company recognizes the impact that new trades students and apprentices have, not only on our business, but on the industry as a whole throughout the Okanagan,” says Adam Rich, General Manager of Sentes. “We see the skills and the energy these young people bring to the table, and we’re proud to support their training.

“We feel it’s very important to give back in a way that can help transform people’s lives. We live and operate in the valley, so it’s important to us to support local causes, and obviously education is one of the most impactful. Formal training is so vital for people looking to be successful in this sector, given how quickly the technologies advance,” adds Rich.

The new complex will allow the College to train over 2,400 foundation students and apprentices every year, which will help further establish this region as a hub for trades training, says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. 

“We are very grateful to local industry leaders like Sentes Automotive who are helping us build for the future, and personally to Adam Rich for his efforts as a champion for the campaign out in the community," said Hamilton.

The Sentes Automotive donation has special meaning for Rich, who is volunteering his time as Automotive Sector Chair for the campaign. Rich notes that he saw the necessity to help raise awareness and ensure that the community understands the importance of trades training, given the demand in the Okanagan.

“It is great forethought on the College’s part to make this expansion now, with all the projections pointing to a shortage in skilled labour over the next decade. This new complex is a great way to stay out in front of that.”

Sentes Automotive operates six dealerships from Vernon to Penticton and is one of the largest automotive industry employers in the region with 265 employees. 

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is 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.

Rich says the buzz around the campaign has been very positive since it was announced, especially among auto dealers. The Kelowna Auto Dealers Association’s pledge of $10,000 was one of the early donations that helped to kick off the campaign and dealerships throughout the valley have collectively provided over $600,000 to date.

“Our group has experienced times when technicians were hard to find; sometimes the demand is such that they can’t be trained fast enough—so it’s wonderful that the College is being mindful of this and is expanding to meet the need. It can only mean more opportunities for students, which is great.”

Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in B.C. When completed in spring of 2016, the new complex will be one of the largest, most sustainable trades training facilities in Western Canada. To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit
Speaker to give inspiring talk about Aboriginal youth empowering change

Okanagan College Media Release

In British Columbia, there are 64,100 Aboriginal youth aged 10- to 24-years-old. It is believed in some Aboriginal cultures and heritages that this “eighth generation” will be the generation to impact change.

Aboriginal people today are laying the foundation for the eighth fire to be lit. The generation to come includes those who make a choice of coming together for community, the environment, and to fundamentally shift ways of knowing and doing.

Gabrielle Scrimshaw webOn Thursday March 26, Okanagan College will host nationally recognized, and member of the Hatchet Lake First Nations, Gabrielle Scrimshaw for a public guest lecture titled “Aboriginal Leadership & Education: our shared Canadian Journey” at both the Kelowna and Vernon campuses. She will speak about how Aboriginal people are growing in numbers, educational rates and what it means for the Canadian economy.

“We have more than 1,500 Aboriginal students registered in our diverse programs, which is triple what it was 10 years ago,” says Anthony Isaac, Aboriginal Access and Services Coordinator at Okanagan College. “We’re excited to have such an influential speaker, someone many students can relate to, come to our campuses to inspire and engage our community in the broader conversation about diversity and our growing economy.”

From 2006 to 2011 the national Aboriginal population increased by 20.1 per cent, compared with a growth of 5.2 per cent of non-Aboriginal as per Statistics Canada. With this growth, a movement is seeing Aboriginal youth more inspired than ever in their pursuit of education and training. This positively impacts the Canadian economy, social health system, and contributes to meeting the anticipated demand for a skilled workforce of the future.

Saskatchewan-raised Scrimshaw is recognized for driving awareness about the growth, success, and leadership of Aboriginal youth. She is an advocate for promoting equality of First Nations in our economy, while upholding the rich cultural heritage of Aboriginal people.

She co-founded the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada, and was the recipient of the 2013 Indspire First Nations Youth award, one of the highest honours within the Aboriginal community. An experienced public speaker, she has presented to youth at the G8/G20 MY SUMMITS program and also attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and CEO Summits in Japan as a Voices of the Future delegate where she spoke about foreign policy to world leaders.

The public is invited to hear from Scrimshaw on March 26 at the Okanagan College Kelowna Campus at 10 a.m. in the Atrium of the Centre for Learning, and also at the Vernon Campus in the Lecture Theatre at 1 p.m.

Galactic stars to beetle shells, the universe is explored in two upcoming Science in Society Speakers Series in Vernon
Okanagan College Media Release

Exploring Earth’s smallest yet most beautiful particles to the sparkling farthest reaches of space, the Science in Society Speakers Dr. Geraldine Peters Mar 2015Series concludes with two talks that span the gamut of matter in our universe.

On Thursday March 26, American astrophysicist Dr. Geraldine J. Peters will speak about marvelous binary stars and on Thursday April 2, nano-materials scientist Dr. Mark MacLachlan will discuss how colourful bugs are inspiring new materials. Both events will be held at the Okanagan College Vernon campus lecture theatre at 7:30 p.m. 

Distinguished astrophysicist Dr. Peters from the University of Southern California will transport the audience to the dynamic realms of space as she discusses key advancements in understanding the inter-relationship of binary stars. These are two stars that operate in a system where they orbit around their own common centre of mass. 

In her research, facilitated by significant NASA grants, Peters utilizes spectra data including from the Hubble Space Telescope to explore the transfer of material between these co-related stars that result in spectacular interactions. The presentation will illustrate extraordinary bi-polar jet streams and splashes of hot mass transfer from one star to the surface of the other.

The talk titled “Close binary stars: what spacecraft observations have revealed about their interactions” is sponsored by the American Astronomical Society as part of the Harlow Shapely Visiting Lectureship program. The March 26 event is free for the public (donations accepted). 

Dr. Mark MacLachlan Mar 2015Returning to earthly matters, Dr. MacLachlan, Chemistry professor at the University of British Columbia, dives into the beautiful world of how plants and animals uniquely amazing characteristics inspire scientists in their pursuit to create new materials with improved strength, durability, and elasticity with his talk titled “Bug shells and butterfly wings: can nature inspire the creation of new materials?

Imagine a form of glass that reflects light similarly to a beetle’s shell. In his research of materials one-thousandth of the width of a hair, which the eye can only see using an electron microscope, Dr. MacLachlan and his team have developed glass and similar materials using the same spiral structure the beetle possesses.

Admission to the April 2 event is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets, please call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644 and visit for more information

“We strive to present a diverse range of speakers to suit a multitude of interests in science for the public to enjoy,” says Okanagan College Chemistry professor Carl Doige, who helps coordinates the series along with the Okanagan Science Centre. “The range of expertise demonstrates how science is applicable within so many aspects of our society. This year we explored themes in sports performance, building materials, protecting the wildlife that are vital to our ecosystems, and even what we ponder when we gaze at the stars.”

This year’s speakers, in addition to Dr. Peters and Dr. McLachlan, captured the science in our midst with presentations by award-winning wildlife photographer Ian McAllister, CBC’s Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald, and neuroscientist Dr. Paul van Donkelaar.

The Science in Society Speaker Series is proudly sponsored by the Best Western Vernon Lodge, Cooper’s Food, Starbucks Coffee, and the Vernon Morning Star.
College business students reach podium twice in western Canadian competitions
Okanagan College Media Release

HR Team Business March 2015Okanagan College’s School of Business earned more hardware last weekend in the areas of accounting and human resources when two teams of students made their way to the podium in two separate western Canadian business competitions. 

In Winnipeg, Okanagan College’s team of Lexi Keen and Rue Mulimba took silver in the 2015 CPA Case Competition, after qualifying in a competitive preliminary round in February. They were second only to Thompson Rivers University; other finalists included the University of Alberta, University of Regina, Mount Royal University, and a second team from Okanagan College.  

“This result really does speak volumes about the quality of our program as this competition is normally reserved for third- and fourth-year students,” said professor and team coach Adrian Fontenla. “Our team included a second-year student.”

In Calgary, Okanagan College’s Bria Young, Ryan Lazauskas and Miranda Birkbeck finished third in the 2015 HRC West case competition. 

HRC West includes a preliminary and final round. Okanagan College advanced to the finals along with the University of Alberta and the host team from Mount Royal University.  

“Competing in the HRC West was a great experience,” said fourth-year business student Bria Young. “It was a very competitive field and so it was nice to place.”

Young will be graduating with a degree in business this June and says the experience she has gained from participating in competitions with the College has been invaluable. 

“It gives you an opportunity to gain practical experience while still in school,” she said. “You get to find solutions to real problems faced by companies and apply your education. I’ve also made a huge improvement in my public speaking and am much more comfortable presenting in front of groups and that is something I will definitely benefit from once I enter the workforce.” 

The College’s HRC West team was coached by professors Laura Thurnheer and Roger Wheeler. 

“Our top three result really demonstrates the abilities of our students,” said Wheeler. “It was tough competition, and I was impressed with the poise and professionalism they displayed under pressure. They represented our school very well.” 
A lifetime of tools donated to Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

A local tradesperson’s generous donation of thousands of dollars of highly sought-after precision measurement tools will give Mary & Bill Schoof Mar 2015Okanagan College students some heavy-duty hands-on learning opportunities. 

Bill Schoof, a retired journeyman, has donated his collection of machinist tools to Okanagan College after learning about the renovation and expansion of the Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus.

“If you’re learning a trade you need more than books, you need the right tools in your hand as well,” says Schoof. “The College already has great equipment, of course, but I know that good tools are always in demand, always appreciated. I was glad to hear that they would benefit students and I’m happy to see them put to good use.”

“It’s been wonderful to see the support from the community as our new Trades Training Complex comes together,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “We greatly appreciate donations of equipment like this. They enrich our programs. They help us ensure that students have opportunities to work on and learn on a wide variety of equipment that they’ll encounter out in their industries.” 

“I want to extend a sincere thank-you on behalf of Okanagan College to Mr. Schoof for this generous gift. As a journeyperson machinist and tool and die maker myself, I feel a special connection to these tools and the trade, and I appreciate that Mr. Schoof has chosen to share an important part of his life’s work to inspire our students,” adds Moores.

Schoof’s donation is one of several major donations of equipment to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign, which was launched last fall by the Okanagan College Foundation, with the goal of raising $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. In addition to over $3.5 million in funds raised, several local individuals and organizations have contributed equipment, including Art Salt, who donated a Caterpillar front-end loader to the College last year.

Schoof’s collection includes digital vernier calipers, micrometers and other machinist equipment, and is valued at over $4,500. The equipment will be used by students in the automotive service technician and mechanical engineering technology programs. 

According to Schoof, the tools took half a life-time to acquire, spanning the course of his 40-year career as a tool and die-maker. He reflected on the difficulty of acquiring them, piece-by-piece, while also working full-time during his training.

“I took a little out of my paycheque each month to buy them,” explains Schoof. “It meant scrimping and saving, but it was a labour of love. So I know how hard it is for students starting out, and I believe we need to support them.”

Born in Windsor Ontario, Schoof moved to the Okanagan in 2002 with his wife, Mary, after retiring from the tool and die industry. 

“It’s been wonderful to see how Okanagan College has grown over the past 15 years,” adds Schoof. “These students are going to work hard and put so much back into the area.”

Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in BC. When completed in spring of 2016, the new complex will be one of the largest, most sustainable trades training facilities in Western Canada. To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit
Collaborating friends earn top-three spots in heavyweight Spaghetti Bridge contest
Okaangan College Media Release

Adrian Schartner March 2015It came down to a battle between three friends from Lumby at Okanagan College’s 32nd annual Spaghetti Bridge Contest held at the Kelowna campus today.

Grade 7 student Adrian Schartner from Lumby placed first with his bridge weighing 982.6 grams and supporting 275.6 kilograms before spectacularly collapsing in front of cheering friends, peers, teachers and parents. His bridge was the only one to break the 200-kilogram load threshold. Brendan Mattenley placed second with 196.68 kilograms of load, and in third was defending champion James Dessert with 171.83 kilograms. 

Taking almost eight weeks of patience, imagination and hard work, the three friends collaborated on the engineering design concept that featured an impressive arch made of bucatini pasta and spaghetti spokes. Each then made individual modifications to their bridge to encourage a little friendly competition.

“We knew we wanted curved bridges, those always do well in the competition,” says 12-year-old Schartner, who is home-schooled. “For my bridge, I created a heavier arch by using four strands of barilla. While it’s a lighter pasta, having more of it made it stronger.”

“This is my first year participating. I’m pretty excited because I came into the competition hoping to place third,” he adds, after being presented with a $1500 prize cheque, courtesy of the event’s sponsors: the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC), PCL Construction, Okanagan College Students’ Union, MMM Group, AECOM, OP Machine Ltd., Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEG), WSP Group, and Interior Testing Services Ltd.

“It was amazing to see such talent in our youth and future professionals,” says Phil Ashman, the day’s emcee and Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “These students are determined. Many of them returning year after year, improving on their technique and structure.”

With otherwise simple ingredients, nothing more than pasta and glue, 248 participating students created recipes for success with their bridges. Students from Lumby and Salmon Arm in the north all the way to Osoyoos in the south participated in building bridges in both demonstration and competition categories. In the team-building category, 58 teams registered (48 in secondary and 10 in the post-secondary division). The Spaghetti Bridge world record of 443.58 kilograms was established in Kelowna in 2009 by a team from Hungary and continues to be undefeated. 

Complete Results

First – Adrian Schartner, Grade 7, home-schooled, Lumby
Bridge weighed: 982.6 grams 
Bridge held: 275.6 kg

Second – Brendan Mattenley, Grade 10 Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby
Bridge weighed: 989.7 g 
Bridge held: 196.7 kg

hird – James Dessert, Grade 9 Charles bloom Secondary, Lumby
Bridge weighed: 909.9 g 
Bridge held: 171.8 kg

Team Building, Post-Secondary
First – Anna Offenwanger, Marissa White, Ephraim Nowak, UBC Okanagan
Second – Kyler Lucas, Rhett Munson, Curtis Hull, Taylor Milsom, Okanagan College 
Third – Julie Humphries, Robert Kemmler, Derek Penson, Siyuan Liu, Okanagan College

Team Building, Secondary
First –Alizon Littleton, Micah McKerlich, Katelyn Zylyk, Braeden Brown, Grade 7, Okanagan Mission Secondary, Kelowna
Second –Joy Savanagouder, Matthew Sharratt, Grade 9, Kings Christian School, Salmon Arm
Third– Jacob Legg, Dayton Wykes, Nathan Karlsson, Grade 9, Glenrosa Middle School, West Kelowna 

Individual Secondary 
First – Liam Davis, Grade 8, Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby (with team members: Dean Corce, Eddie Harvey)
Second– Ryan Baril, Grade 8, Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby 
Third – Esther Drysdale, Grade 8, Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby

BC Wine Information Society Award helps viticulture student grow her education
Okanagan College Media Release

BC Wine Info Society Mar 2015The pursuit of a career in the wine industry just got a little sweeter for an Okanagan College student thanks to a bursary from the BC Wine Information Society, in recognition of her early achievements in the field. 

Kathleen McCaffrey, who is currently completing the Viticulture Certificate program at the College’s Penticton campus, is the recipient of the 2015 BC Wine Information Society Award, valued at $1,500. 

“I am so excited and grateful for this award,” says McCaffrey, who completed a degree in Business at Okanagan College before enrolling in the Viticulture program. “It’s a huge boost and will help with tuition for the next course I’m taking, which is focused on wine sales.”

“On behalf of the BC Wine Information Society, I would like to congratulate Kathleen McCaffrey on her accomplishments in the Viticulture program,” says Laura Kowalchuk, Manager B.C. Wine Information Centre, which is operated by the Society. 

“The wine industry is a key driver of our region’s economy and so we feel it’s hugely important to support students in the valley,” explains Kowalchuk. “We are so excited to see what students like Kathleen will accomplish as they jump into this industry and put their energy and creativity into elevating the profile of B.C. wine even further.”

The bursary is one of two annual awards sponsored by the BC Wine Information Society, which also made a $300,000 donation to the College last year to assist with the creation of a new Wine Sensory Centre at the Penticton campus. The new centre opened in fall of 2014 and has since become one of the key instructional hubs for the College’s Food, Wine, and Tourism programming.

“Food, Wine, and Tourism is about studying and celebrating the uniqueness of the Okanagan Valley and the people who make these industries a huge success,” says Jonathan Rouse, Director of Food, Wine and Tourism and Associate Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business. “We’re very grateful and excited that organizations like the BC Wine Information Society continue to support and work with us as we develop and deliver our programs. It makes the student experience that much more rewarding.”

McCaffrey credits the Okanagan’s buzzing wine industry and a trip to Italy last summer as the inspiration to delve deeper into the study of wine. She stomped grapes and worked in cellars while traveling through Tuscany and the Aosta Valley. The trip also enlightened McCaffrey to organic grape growing and winemaking techniques—an experience which she says amped up her appreciation for organic growers in the Okanagan.

“There are such exciting things happening in this region. I want to keep going with my education and learn the ins and outs of every job from field to glass,” McCaffrey notes.

The BC Wine Information Centre was the first VQA Wine Store in British Columbia. Today there are 21 stores across B.C. Operated by the BC Wine Information Society, profits are put back into the local community supporting the wine industry.  

We are a non-profit organization and every bottle sold benefits the community, be it through supporting student awards such as these or other projects. So people can feel good about buying wine here knowing that it’s having a positive impact locally,” says Kowalchuk.

Okanagan College’s Viticulture program offers a variety of courses focused on everything from the principles of grape growing and winemaking to vineyard management and equipment operation to wine sales and public relations. The program involves both classroom instruction and a work experience component at local vineyards. More information is available at