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When it comes to green, Okanagan College is better than gold.
Okanagan College can now boast of having two of the 14 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Platinum-certified buildings in all of Canada’s post-secondary sector. The College learned this week that its new trades building in Kelowna has been certified by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). It is the second for OC – the first was the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus.
LEED Platinum certification is the highest standard awarded in the rating system which measures green building. The system is in use in more than 160 countries. In order to achieve platinum a building must measure up across an array of factors, from the incorporation of sustainable building materials to water and energy efficiency to human-factor behaviours like recycling programs housed within a building.
“You don’t have to look hard to find advances in sustainability across all the trades, from automotive to welding, so in expanding and re-invigorating our Kelowna trades training facilities, we set out to provide our students and employees with a world-class learning environment that would celebrate them, their chosen career paths and the future of the trades,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our institution has a reputation as a leader in sustainable building. We are proud of being able to raise the bar in sustainability and wouldn’t have been able to create spaces such as this without the help of forward-thinking builders like PCL (PCL Constructors Westcoast Ltd.), our industry partners, and the incredible community support and donations that made the project possible.”
The provincial government contributed $28 million toward the $35 million, 10,000-square-metre Trades Complex project which involved new construction and extensive upgrades to existing facilities. The new building accounts for about 5,200 square metres of the overall project.
Feedback from the building’s most important critics – students and staff – has also been glowing.
“Students and staff have truly embraced the new building as their home from the moment it opened,” says Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “I think it’s safe to say that the sustainability factor has contributed to their sense of pride in the space.”
Moores has also witnessed how the building’s design has inspired industry and other post-secondary institutions.
“We’ve had feedback from many people who have taken tours and asked about how we were able to incorporate certain technologies and sustainability features, and what it meant for the training environment. One of the other benefits of the building is that has already proved itself as a wonderful model for others in terms of what can be achieved.”
Students at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus are helping Fido stay warm in the winter weather with a donation of insulated doghouses to the local SCPA.
Five large breed dogs adopted from the Vernon SPCA in the coming days will have the option of receiving one of the doghouses, ensuring they have a warm welcome in their new homes. The doghouses were built and insulated as a part of the hands-on training students are gaining in the Residential Insulator program.
The program, which piloted last year and is now in its second cohort, provides students with specialized training in the increasingly technical building science surrounding residential insulation. Five teams of students each built and insulated a doghouse as a part of their training.
“We were looking for an alternate project for our program and loved the idea of building and insulating doghouses that would be comfortable for dogs as they are adopted into their new homes,” says instructor Luke Egely. “The students had a chance to bring their creativity to their projects and contribute to the community.”
An SPCA staff member and one of their adoptable dogs, Hawkin, were on-site at the College recently to check out the completed doghouses and meet the students who built them.
“We are very excited to be able to offer extra care items to people who are adopting a dog. It’s a great incentive for anyone who might not already own all of the supplies they need to provide shelter for an outdoor dog,” says Chelsea Taylor, branch manager of the Vernon and District SPCA.
The booming insulation industry, coupled with consumer interest in reducing environmental impact, has created a significant need for skilled workers. Okanagan College, in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Work BC, and local industry leaders, developed the 25-week program to help meet industry demand and prepare skilled workers.
The program provides tuition-free training for eligible applicants with funding from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. The program is geared toward helping students develop practical skills and provides safety certifications in the first 15 weeks of classroom instruction. Beginning in mid-April, the current cohort of students will spend 10 weeks in work placements with local employers, providing valuable work-related experience.
“After the pilot program last year, we have added more content to further develop the curriculum,” says Egely. “We’ve created a program that gives students a solid foundation in most of the applications seen in residential insulating and covers a broad range of topics to build the knowledge these students need.”
Anyone interested in adopting an animal can visit the SPCA website for a current listing of animals in care, see photos and read more about them.
Okanagan College business students are boasting bronze after capturing third place from a field of 30 student teams at the Scotiabank Canadian Case Challenge.
The competition, held at Vanier College in Montreal, melds business strategy, marketing and management into one of the most challenging collegiate competitions in the country. The first day, all 30 teams are sequestered in isolation as they wait to be given the business case. Once given the details, students have 3.5 hours to analyze the information given, put together recommendations and build a presentation to deliver to a panel of industry leaders.
“It’s a major competition, the judges are incredible and the entire experience is extremely intense,” explains Blair Baldwin, Okanagan School of Business professor who coached the team alongside Mark Ziebarth.
The students' first case was from a coffee company based on Prince Edward Island that was seeking recommendations that would grow their company, with a specific marketing budget in mind.
Nathan Ziebart, a third-year marketing student on the team, explained the team’s recommendation to expand wholesale distribution to similar clients in other regions was a challenge.
"Coming up with three good alternatives was quite difficult. The analysis was pretty straightforward, but because of the limited budget and being a business-to-business case, there were limited options that we could present,” Ziebart explains.
“In a competition like this we really get to apply all of the skills and knowledge that we learn in class and bring it out it to be tested. It adds a new level to the learning,” said Cooper Simson, a finance student also on the team.
Their approach worked, as the team found out Saturday night that they would advance to the final round on Sunday. That case featured a Calgary-based alternative fitness business specializing in parkour ninja warrior-style training, seeking expansion opportunities that would see them grow market share.
The team suggested changes to their business model to allow memberships and hourly rates for specific drop-in times, in addition to holding an accessible competition tailored to families, youth and non-competitors.
Once the finals were over, Baldwin recalls multiple people praising the OSB contingent’s performance.
“Our team put on a very creative presentation to the judges. So many students, presenters, coaches came up and shook their hands saying, ‘Okanagan School of Business keeps raising the bar,’” he says.
"What stood out for me was the countless hours — over 40 hours in training for five weeks — prior to going to Montreal. Their dedication to learning and representing the Okanagan School of Business was admirable. They knew they were entering a tough competition and wanted to compete at a high level."
"It's opportunities like this that really exemplify why the Okanagan School of Business is such a great place to study, getting to challenge ourselves and hone our abilities,” said Nico Dirksen, who is specializing in accounting.
A harrowing 90 minutes after they presented, the judges announced the winners, and Okanagan College took home the bronze.
“Podium finishes at a case competition of this calibre cannot be achieved without a great deal of preparation and work. I congratulate the students and the faculty for the incredible effort they put in and for representing the College so well,” says Bill Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business.
Okanagan College’s Bachelor of Business Administration degree program has received high marks from the international organization overseeing the investment management profession.
The CFA Society Okanagan hosted a special reception event at Manteo Resort recently, where CFA Institute’s CEO Paul Smith recognized the College’s School of Business for its finance specialty programming.
“Okanagan College’s Business program has a long history of producing investment management leaders in the region, many of whom have gone on to achieve their CFA designation. University affiliate status is a strong signal to students and employers of the quality of the curriculum,” says Smith. “We welcome Okanagan College as the newest university affiliate, which is our third in British Columbia.”
The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential is recognized internationally as the standard of certification for investment professionals, and the institute has more than 158,000 members worldwide who promote the highest standards of education, ethics, and professional excellence in the investment profession.
Okanagan College is one of 31 institutions in Canada that are affiliates of the CFA Institute. In addition to added prestige for the School of Business, the new affiliation also brings another benefit for students: scholarships.
Starting this year, up to nine scholarships will be provided to College students who pursue the CFA exams as part of the affiliation, to be administered by the Okanagan School of Business.
“Demonstrating knowledge and skills to prospective employers is valuable for new graduates, and the CFA designation can give those pursuing careers in the financial management industry an edge,” says William Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business. “With Okanagan College now part of the CFA affiliate program, our finance students are getting a head-start in the investment management profession.”
Ever wondered what health care and real estate have in common? Both are among the countless industries that will be impacted by an emerging technology called blockchain – and a new program at Okanagan College will soon help students tap into the know-how to ride this wave of change into new technology careers and frontiers.
Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies department is launching a new certificate program centred on blockchain. It will offer an introduction to how it works, the technology, the networks and platforms it uses, as well as some of the applications that use blockchain technology.
“Blockchain is like a network of highways,” notes Wayne Van Damme, a technology expert and developer of the program, who will also be teaching the first session, which powers up in March.
Bitcoin, the decentralized cryptocurrency, uses blockchain to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions through this network. Currently, bitcoin is one of the only vehicles (applications) that travels on this roadway but others are expected to follow, explains Van Damme.
“This highway has potential to carry much more traffic and many types of vehicles. Right now, we have the opportunity to decide what kind of vehicles we want to design for the roadway,” says Van Damme. “Blockchain gives us a safe way to transfer information and now we can create the concepts that will influence business and social interactions in the years to come.”
The eight-week certificate program will be offered online, so students organize their own study schedules. To bring it to life, Okanagan College enlisted support from industry experts at BlocksEDU Learning Corporation, a Vancouver-based emerging technology education courseware training company. The certificate will explore the details of blockchain technology and open students up a range of possible career and business applications.
“Equipping students with just the right blend of technology theory and industry applications is our goal – that’s what we’re hearing employers calling for,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training at Okanagan College.
The certificate program explains blockchain technology and prepares learners to think about the variety of ways this technology could impact their businesses and their lives. Applications are possible within banking and payments, insurance, charity, voting and other government systems, health care and real estate, to name a few. The opportunity to use this technology to establish trackable supply chain management is also being explored by many industries – something that should be of interest to businesses and consumers alike.
“We know blockchain technology is an emerging area of interest, not only for those in the technology industries, but for anyone who is committed to building a skill set that will stay current with the changing technologies that will drive the new economies,” adds Silvestrone. “It’s knowledge that will benefit small business owners too, who are increasingly needing to serve as their own IT department and look after their own security and e-commerce solutions. There are many applications emerging.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the training can drop by an info session on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m., in Room E402 in the Centre for Learning on the Kelowna campus.
Okanagan College’s popular Business Expo & Employment Fair is back for its twelfth year, once again connecting students and community members with an abundance of local, provincial and national employment opportunities.
The Okanagan College School of Business and OC’s Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment Centre is presenting the Business Expo & Employment Fair on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The event is happening in the Centre for Learning (E building) Atrium at the Kelowna campus from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
“This event is for everyone from all different industries – not just business – and would appeal to anyone living in the Okanagan region” says Jamie Morrow, Okanagan School of Business Program and Event Coordinator. “It’s meant to connect those looking for work with those who do the direct hiring for their companies. Sometimes being in front of the right people at the right time is the edge you need in such a competitive job market.”
Participants will have the opportunity to network with more than 60 local, provincial and national employers and even apply for positions as many exhibitors are hiring.
“We are always looking for individuals for our Member Service Advisor and Contact Centre Agent roles,” says Erika Nisbet, Human Resources Consultant with Interior Savings. “We also hire students for Teller roles as part of our co-op program. Students receive training during the summer months and then have the opportunity to work shifts that fit their schedule.”
Interior Savings, along with many other B.C. companies have attended the Business Expo consistently for years.
“We’ve been attending for the past eight years,” explains Nisbet. “We go to hire, to educate participants about career opportunities that Interior Savings has to offer and to let people know about our organization and all we do in the communities we serve.”
Exhibitors from multiple industries – including municipalities, wine, law enforcement, hospitality, finance, construction, technologies, retail and more – will be present, ensuring there is something for everyone.
A full list of exhibitors and further information is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/businessexpo.
Foodies, take note. Diners looking to sip Okanagan wines and savour locally-inspired dishes can once again pull up a chair and enjoy a new dinner menu from the creative minds of OC Culinary and Pastry Arts students and instructors.
Infusions restaurant at the Kelowna campus will be participating in Dine Around Thompson Okanagan which runs Jan. 16 - Feb. 3. Coordinated by the BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association (BCRFA), the Dine Around Thompson Okanagan event is presented by Wines of British Columbia.
For $25, diners can enjoy a choice of starter, main and dessert, each with suggested local wine pairing (wine is extra). Infusions is open for dinner Tuesday to Friday, 5:30 – 8 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made online through open table at okanagan.bc.ca/infusions.
Bites include beet and goat cheese napoleons or crab cakes to start, followed by New York striploin, prosciutto wrapped Ling Cod or wild mushroom shepherd’s pie for the main affair, capped off with Frangelico-infused crème brulee or a fresh lemon tart with torched meringue for dessert.
“The menu reflects the techniques and ingredients our students are working with right now, while tapping into their creative ideas and showcasing some of the flavours of the season in the Okanagan,” explains Culinary Manager Chef Vincent Stufano.
“Creating and cooking dishes for Infusions is an invaluable training opportunity for our students,” adds Stufano. “Opportunities like Dine Around pushes our students to step it up, and in turn gives us just occasion to showcase just how much energy, passion and talent our future chefs bring to the table.”
There is also no corkage fee at Infusions, so diners can bring their own BC VQA wine and have it opened at their table at no charge.
OC Culinary Arts students and staff will also be serving up small bites at the Dine Around launch party taking place at Okanagan College on Tuesday, Jan. 15. Tickets for that event are $40+ tax and available online at dinearound.ca.
The Dine Around menu at Infusions will be offered until Wednesday, Jan. 30. From Thursday, Jan. 31 – Friday, Feb. 1, the restaurant will be closed for dinner to accommodate preparations for the Canadian Culinary Championships taking place on Feb. 1-2.
Okanagan College’s kitchens will once again serve as the backdrop for the Black Box Competition – a fast-paced trial that will see 11 of Canada’s top chefs work their magic with a cornucopia of mystery ingredients. As in past years, OC Culinary Arts students will once again have the exciting opportunity to serve as sous chefs to the visiting competitors throughout the various events that make up the two-day competition.
This week, Okanagan College’s Penticton campus is launching a series of presentations designed to inspire the community to embrace its potential in 2019.
“The OC Speaker Series offers the community a chance to learn new things, and the lineup this term features a rich array of topics to motivate and engage people of all ages,” says Eric Corneau, Regional Dean South Okanagan Similkameen. “We want Okanagan College’s Penticton campus to be home to lifelong learning and hope the seats are filled for these free presentations.”
The lineup of experts and authorities will cover a wide range of topics, from the performing arts to sockeye hatchery, vineyard management, politics and technology. A special highlight will be Kikkan Randall, U.S. Olympic cross-country skier who will discuss her journey to the Olympic podium and fight through cancer.
The series includes:
Talks are 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre (PL 107) of the Ashnola Building. The Okanagan College Penticton campus is located at 583 Duncan Ave. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to support students in need.
Event information is available at https://ocspeakersseries.weebly.com/.
Okanagan College Media Release
With many kitchens in the Okanagan and across the province on the hunt for cooks, the College is hosting an info session next week to open doors to culinary careers for the next generation of chefs.
“The industry is screaming for cooks,” says instructor Chef Mike Barillaro. “Over the summer, we heard from restaurants that had to cut back the days they could open because they didn’t have enough cooks. It’s an industry that really needs talented people, so we’re pushing hard to train enough cooks to fulfill the need.”
A new intake of Culinary Arts certificate program will step into the classroom and the teaching kitchen this month. The next round of the program starts in February. Those interested in stepping into the February class are invited to drop into Infusions restaurant at the Kelowna Campus next Monday, Jan. 14 at 5 p.m. to learn more about the program and have their questions answered.
Jeremy Luypen, Executive Winery Chef at Summerhill Pyramid Winery and an alumnus of the program, has been working with the College to train new cooks for the better part of a decade. He visits the very kitchen in which he honed his craft as often as he can to pass on his experiences.
“The best part of being a Culinary instructor is going back and being able to share my experience with the students and showing them that the program does work. I’ve seen a lot of students go through the program, and I’ve hired many too,” he says.
Luypen is also quick to point out that the Okanagan makes an ideal training ground due to its bounty of local ingredients.
“One of the best parts of being a chef in the Okanagan is the food that we get to play with, and the wine that is at our fingertips or lips. It’s amazing what this valley produces. You are truly limited your own imagination and creativity.”
The latest labour market projections suggest that need isn’t going away any time soon. Between now and 2028, B.C. is going to need nearly 12,000 more cooks.
One of those newly minted culinary artists is Courtney Whalen, who will earn her Culinary Arts certificate at the College’s Winter Convocation on Saturday. Whalen will be among 482 graduates that day, spanning programs from Arts to Water Engineering Technology.
Whalen, who is originally from Northern Alberta, will be celebrating two accomplishments on Saturday. She will pick up her credential having already landed a dream opportunity with a buzzing local restaurant.
Last year, through a co-op placement, she found work with Sunny’s Modern Diner. She’s since been hired on beyond that 10-week co-op experience.
“I worked in a bakery when I was younger and my dad went to culinary school but I basically stepped into the program with not a lot of culinary experience. You could say I launched a new career from scratch, basically. It’s been remarkable how quickly it all came together.”
Whalen says the program helped to kindle in her a new direction, after pondering a career in business.
“I discovered I love cooking and making people happy through food,” she says.
Her advice for future chefs-in-training?
“Take notes. One of the things I picked up from the program at the College was the need for constant learning. It never stops.”
“I keep a notebook on me at all times, and I’m always jotting down things the chefs say to me at my current job,” says Whalen. “It’s a very collaborative industry. I’m often getting feedback on my technique, learning more efficient ways to do certain things, and gathering inspiration for new flavours and new recipes.”
More information about the College’s Culinary Arts program is available at okanagan.bc.ca/fwt.
At a time when many are making resolutions to hit the gym, a pair of Okanagan College students are sharing their thoughts on why hitting the books in January may be even more life-changing.
Okanagan College is preparing for another intake of new students for the winter semester starting in January, which often includes mature students and those returning from a break or travel abroad.
Last year, Connor Welsh was one of those students who seized the new year to kick-start his education as the timing would allow him to continue to lend a hand with the family business.
“I started in January because I found it worked better for my schedule,” explains Connor Welsh, whose family owns Country Camping Leisure Products and works long hours during the peak tourist season. “In the summer months, I’m often working the most during the year. That’s when I have the longest hours and am the busiest, so studying in the off-season is better.”
Fast forward to this January, and Welsh finds himself with just one course left to go. He says the College’s small class sizes and personal approach have been critical to his progress, and inspired him to consider additional business education as well.
“From the moment I took a step through the doors, the staff were focused on what I needed to succeed and move forward,” Welsh explains. “It is such a friendly atmosphere, the quality of the education is great, the classroom experience is good because people want to be there, and the instructors care about your learning.”
This year, the College will see more than 21,000 learners attend – the equivalent of more than 8,745 full-time students – at its campuses from the Shuswap to the South Okanagan.
The 2018 British Columbia Labour Market Outlooks predicts 903,000 job openings in the province between now and 2028, with nearly 80 percent requiring workers with some form of post-secondary education.
Welsh also points that flexibility in being able to transfer his education was also a draw to start at the College – a statement echoed by one his peers at the Salmon Arm campus.
Blake Lewis, a recent Ike Barber Transfer Scholarship recipient working towards a bachelor’s degree in education, said starting in January helped him fast-track his academic studies.
“I started in the winter semester because I wanted to make up the time on my studies,” explains Blake Lewis. “It was a hard decision to switch from full-time employment and give up that certainty to become a student, but I think it was worth it.”
The College recently launched a new tool to help students more easily explore programs starting soon at OC campuses. Would-be students can learn more at www.okanagan.bc.ca/startnow.
Thanks to the generosity of donors to Okanagan College, students are able to gain an education and for some, pursue big dreams at the same time.
Hannah Mehain is one such student. At age 20, she's in her second year of science at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus with the goal of studying medicine or physiotherapy.
She is also an accomplished cross country skier, who just last week made the Canadian World Junior/U23 Championships team. She will be travelling to Finland in January to compete with the best in the world. After that, her eyes are on the 2022 Winter Olympics.
"If I did not have the financial support from the College I likely would not be able to compete in cross-country skiing at a high level while going to school," says Mehain.
"Having that support, I can devote my time and energy into doing very well at both. It makes a huge difference."
Mehain is one of 977 students who received scholarships and bursaries from Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation this year. In total, more than $1.1 million was given to students, with much of the funds made possible through the generous support of donors.
"I want to thank everyone who is helping make my dream and other students' dreams possible," says Mehain.
She adds that the College professors have been extremely supportive of her athletic endeavors, providing her with flexibility to complete her studies while attending competitions.
“I love going to school every day because I am interested in the material I am learning and because the professors are passionate and knowledgeable about the material they are teaching,” says Mehain.
In November, nearly $500,000 was handed out to students at three awards ceremonies in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon. The fall award ceremonies provide a timely boost of support for students as the holidays approach. The ceremonies also play an important role in connecting students with the individuals and organizations behind the awards.
“Community support is a significant ingredient in the recipe for student success,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.
“Whether it allows students to pursue their studies while chasing other goals or whether it just relieves some of the financial stress associated with their education that help means a great deal.”