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CHBA invests in the Okanagan’s greenest child care centre
Partnership fuels new training for trades and technology teachers
Local recycling renewed with applied research
College opens new Trades Training Centre in Vernon
Four new Board members for Okanagan College
OC graduate trains to support Indigenous community
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CHBA invests in the Okanagan’s greenest child care centre

A group of construction industry leaders are the latest to step up to support the Okanagan’s greenest child care centre.

CHBA donates to Penticton Child Care Centre

The Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA) South Okanagan is helping build up the Okanagan College Foundation’s fundraising efforts with a $5,000 gift to Little Learners Academy on the Penticton campus of Okanagan College.

“The College is a wonderful asset to the community in providing skills and training that benefit our local workforce,” says Sarah Taylor, Executive Officer of CHBA South Okanagan.  “We are really proud to be a part of the growth and expansion of the campus over the years.”

In addition to this contribution, CHBA South Okanagan also played a role in the last expansion of the Penticton campus with a gift to the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence, which opened in 2011.

Seeing the benefit the Centre of Excellence has had on the community, as well the impact of the student awards CHBA South Okanagan supports, motivated the non-profit organization to invest in the most recent campus project.

“We are thankful for the support from CHBA South Okanagan, who not only see the value in the work of the College but also understand and support our sustainability goals,” says Eric Corneau, Okanagan College Regional Dean, South Okanagan-Similkameen.

As the first Passive House child care centre in Canada, Little Learners has already received accolades for its achievements in sustainable construction techniques (including making a list of the greenest new buildings in Canada for 2018), something Taylor sees as a bigger trend industry-wide.

“In the near future, we’ll be hearing a lot more about energy efficient techniques and how to take better care of the environment in the way we construct buildings,” she explains. “The design and construction of Little Learners embraces those concepts in a way that is truly ahead of its time.”

Two CHBA South Okanagan members have also been involved with the new child care centre from the start. Landform Architecture was the architect and Ritchie Custom Homes was the contractor.

For more information on the innovative centre, or to contribute to the Bright from the Start - Building for the Future campaign, visit

Partnership fuels new training for trades and technology teachers

A new collaboration between Okanagan College and Brock University is opening doors for those looking to teach trades and technology.
TTTE partnershipThe Trades and Technology Teacher Education (TTTE) program will come online this September. The program will offer existing high school teachers a means to specialize in trades and technology, while also giving tradespeople and technology professionals a chance to add instructional training to their toolkit.
“The beauty of the TTTE program is that it opens up convenient pathways to teaching trades and technology for people from many different backgrounds,” notes Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College.
The program is comprised of online courses in communications, digital media, educational pedagogies, curriculum design and evaluation, conflict management, math for trades and technology, electronics, robotics, drafting and design. Summer sessions at the College’s Kelowna campus will help students gain practical shop experience, safety training, and knowledge of applied pedagogies.

Each student’s path through the program will depend on their previous education and training.

Secondary school teachers can complete the TTTE Certificate and qualify to teach carpentry, electrical, metalwork, heavy mechanics, power mechanics, auto mechanics, robotics, electronics, drafting and design.

Tradespersons with a Red Seal and industry experience can complete the TTTE Diploma and apply to instruct trades programs in their industry. Okanagan College will accept the TTTE Diploma as qualifying training for OC trades instructors with a Red Seal and industry experience.

Students pursuing the TTTE Certificate will enroll with the College, while those looking to complete the Diploma will register with both OC and Brock University. Students who complete the Diploma may then apply the credits toward the three-year online Brock University Bachelor of Education in Adult Education.

“We’re excited to work with Okanagan College,” says Robert McGray, Associate Professor and Program Director of the Adult Education programs in Brock University’s Faculty of Education. “We share OC’s commitment to equipping educators with the skills and knowledge they need, whether they’re new educators of adults or experienced teachers in high schools.”

Providing students entering the program from different fields with just the right blend of instructional and hands-on trades training was one of the challenges of bringing the TTTE program to life. Collaboration proved to be the solution.

“We wanted to ensure students could access training that is convenient for their lives and busy schedules – hence the online component – while also making sure those students get the hands-on skills they’ll need to be successful teaching a wide array of tools, techniques and technologies,” explains Moores. “Tapping into Brock University’s adult education teacher training curriculum provided the perfect means to augment the trades and technology training students will receive in person at OC.”

The TTTE program isn’t just for those looking to teach adults. A pending partnership between the College and UBC Okanagan School of Education is also expected to create a new pathway for students looking to teach trades and technology at the high school level. The College consulted with school districts in the region both to gauge the need for the training, as well as identify the means of delivery that would work best for teachers. Local educators are already showing interest in the program.

“We’re seeing applications and fielding questions from students from a variety of different backgrounds and industries – including a number of local secondary school teachers,” explains Sara Cousins, the program’s administrator. “We’re looking forward to working with them all and our hope is that the program will provide a new and welcome means of professional development for teachers and tradespeople alike.” More information about the program is available at


Local recycling renewed with applied research

How do you count crushed cans crammed into a cube?

An applied research project by Okanagan College could crack open a solution to the tongue-twisting challenge and offer serious savings for the recycling industry for years to come.

recycling applied research

Interior Recycling contacted Okanagan College last year, seeking local expertise to solve an expensive inventory problem. Currently, the Vernon recycling facility measures the quantity of aluminum cans that it processes based on weight; however, owner Jay Aarsen estimates this method comes with a significant margin of error.

"Auditing loads and can counts is a challenge, because we work on a ratio that factors so many cans per pound. But there's a big variation in that because of the liquids inside, and in winter, it would be heavy when the liquid froze. The only way to audit a load would be to count it by hand, which would be very time consuming," Aarsen explains.

Factor in the 12 to 14 million cans travelling through the depot's doors each year, and that ratio significantly impacts the company’s bottom line.

Luke Skulmoski, an OC trades instructor and licensed electrician, obtained a Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Engage Grant to research, design, develop and install a system for counting aluminum cans more accurately.

He researched whether other sorting or counting machines existed, and found examples in Switzerland and California that use a spinning motion to separate and count cans. The specifications for that technology, however, were far too large to fit in the Interior Recycling's building.

"We had to design something that functioned and fit within this building," says Skulmoski.

Working alongside welding instructor Sean Jarvis, Skulmoski designed a customized hopper that uses an agitator to help funnel cans down through 21 metal chutes. Adjacent to each chute is a photo sensor that signals a computer each time a can falls. When the computer’s count reaches a specific number of cans, the conveyor stops momentarily, allowing the hopper to release the counted cans into a condenser. From there, “biscuits” of compressed aluminum emerge, each having equal numbers of cans, regardless of weight.

"This could make our plant run more efficiently because we could put people into more skilled labour, in terms of maintaining the counting machine, versus just counting the cans. Being able to audit everything versus spot-check will be great," says Aarsen.

Students were also brought onto the applied research project. Curtis Alwood, a first-year Electrician Pre-Apprenticeship student in Kelowna, researched options for counting technologies and helped wire the components. Maximillian Dannert, who completed his Welder Foundation Certificate this spring, assisted with designing, welding, and fabricating the hopper and its frame.

"This gives students hands-on experience working with a client, facing real deadlines on a real project. Plus they get paid," says Skulmoski.

The prototype was affixed to the existing conveyor system, taking four days to custom fabricate and install. The applied research team also had to ensure the counting machine could quickly and easily convert back to the old weight-based system, in case something happens with the prototype, adding another layer of complexity to the project.

"Applied research projects like this bring the community and academia together, and that doesn't happen very often. From start to finish we were able to offer this partner a solution in just six months, whereas with other larger institutions it could take years," Skulmoski explains, adding that the end result could save the bottle depot tens of thousands of dollars per year.

"That amount of money is huge for a small business, and it means they could hire more people. This type of project helps our students learn, but also supports our community, too."


College opens new Trades Training Centre in Vernon

A class of Plumbing and Piping Foundation trades students were the first to step through the doors of the newly completed Trades Training Centre at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus at 7 a.m. this morning. A few hours later, they helped to officially open the space where they will hone their trade. oc vernon trades opening blog

Stephen Fuhr, Member of Parliament for Kelowna - Lake Country and The Hon. Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training joined Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and other College officials, donors, industry and community members, students and alumni in a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon today, August 7, followed by a BBQ for students and guests. 

The new 1,250 square-metre (13,450 square-foot) centre will accommodate about 150 students per year in Carpentry, Welding, Electrical, Plumbing and Piping, and Women in Trades programs.

The Province of B.C. provided $2.88 million and the Government of Canada provided $2.66 million toward the $6.2 million total project cost. The Okanagan College Foundation has raised nearly $1 million to cover the $673,000 capital construction cost, as well as provide support for students and programming. 


Four new Board members for Okanagan College

The four people joining Okanagan College’s Board of Governors may be fresh to the role, but they are familiar names in the region.

David Porteous, Juliette Cunningham, Shelly Cook and Tina Lee have each been appointed to the College’s Board by the provincial government for one-year terms that began at the end of July.

“I’m looking forward to Juliette, Tina, Shelley and David starting their work with the Board,” says Okanagan College Board of Governors’ chair Chris Derickson. “I know their experience will yield insights and perspectives valuable for our Board.”

Lee is an experienced communications and strategy professional from Penticton whose human rights and development work has spanned six continents and has ranged from influencing United Nations activity to developing municipal community engagement processes.

Cunningham is a current City of Vernon Councillor, Vice-Chair of the Regional District of the North Okanagan, Vice-Chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board as well as a business owner. She also has an extensive history of working with non-profit Boards such as the Women’s Centre, Junction Literacy, People Place, Museum and the Early Years Council.

Porteous is an employee group benefits consultant and writes for a quarterly senior’s magazine on health and benefits issues. He co-founded McIver-Porteous Insurance Services Ltd. In the 1980s and was president of Working Enterprises Insurance Services Ltd. He also started Canadian Administrative Underwriting Services Inc. and Working Enterprises Consulting & Benefits Services Ltd.

Cook is an Okanagan College alumnus and has more than 20 years’ experience working with disadvantaged populations in institutional and community-based settings in BC and Ontario. She has a Master’s Degree in Human and Social Development from the University of Victoria and is currently completing her PhD in Community, Culture and Global Studies at the University of British Columbia - Okanagan. Before pursuing her doctoral studies, Cook was Executive Director of John Howard Society in Kelowna for 11 years. In 2017, Cook received a national award for innovation and urban sustainability (Dr. Alex Aylett Scholarship) related to her community-based research efforts. She was the candidate for the BC NDP- Kelowna-West in the 2017 General Election and the 2018 By-election.

Cunningham and Lee each hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University.

“I am very familiar with the contribution Okanagan College makes to the community and the region,” says Cunningham. “I am eager to work with Chris, the other board members and administration to ensure its continued success and development.”

“I’ve watched Okanagan College develop its profile in the South Okanagan and Similkameen, and I am excited to learn more about the institution and bring my talents to the Board table,” says Lee.

Porteous shares the others’ interest in the contribution Board members can make to OC’s success: “This is an organization that is very clearly connected and supportive of the communities it serves,” he notes. “Governance is an integral and important part of any public post-secondary institution and I am honored to have been selected to serve in this role.”

“People and organizations in this region identify with Okanagan College,” says Cook. “There are so many proud alumni and so many positive partnerships associated with the College that I know being a member of the Board of Governors will be a rewarding experience.”

Provincially-appointed Board members whose term ends July 31 are Connie Denesiuk (who served six years and was Board Chair from 2016 to early 2018) and Joe Maciel (who was appointed in 2014). Vernon’s Riminder Gakhal completed her 16-month term with the Board at the end of 2017. Board Vice-Chair Gloria Morgan has been reappointed to July 31, 2019.

Other appointed members of the Board include Charity Gerbrandt and Robert McGowan. Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Education Council Chair Christopher Newitt are also members of the Board. In addition, there are two student members, a faculty representative and a support staff representative, all elected by their respective constituencies.

shelley cook web
Shelley Cook

Juliette Cunningham

Juliette Cunningham

Tina Lee
Tina Lee
OC graduate trains to support Indigenous community
Okanagan College Media Release


Alice George Aug 2018Early on, Alice George knew she had a passion for helping others. Working as a cashier for the Nk’Mip Gas and Convenience Store in Oliver, George met people who needed more assistance than she could offer during her interactions at her workplace.

“I had an interest in helping others,” says George, “I knew I could do more.”

Going back to school was hard so George and her husband challenged each other to pursue continuing their educations. Once her husband, Edward, had successfully completed his six-month program through Okanagan College, George started looking for educational opportunities for herself.

Turns out that finding the right program was the easy part. “I noticed the Aboriginal Community Support Worker (ASCW) program and I was really interested in it,” says George.

“This program was the product of extensive consultation with Aboriginal communities throughout the Interior of B.C. as well as a number of community entities that serve Indigenous peoples in the region,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training. “The growing need for social and community support workers with a deeper knowledge of the specific challenges facing Indigenous individuals and families prompted us to respond to this training need.”

The full-time program includes course work and a practicum that prepares individuals to step into community support work assisting Indigenous individuals and families, both on- and off- reserve, to enhance their quality of life.

“The program gave me a better understanding of Indigenous history and current issues facing Indigenous communities today,” says George. “If you’re willing to dig deeper and become self-aware of your own biases and values, you can really build on your professional skills. That is when the work becomes more interesting.”

“The college was such a welcoming place to go to school and my experience has inspired me to pursue additional post-secondary education,” says George. “My perspective has really shifted – I now have a much more compassionate and empathetic view on how to support others.”

In preparation for the fall intake, Okanagan College will offer an information session at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in Room E105 at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College, located at 7000 College Way in Vernon. The session will provide community members with the opportunity to learn more about the program, ask questions and learn more about financial support options.

The Aboriginal Community Support Worker certificate is just one of the hundreds of Continuing Studies courses and certificates that are offered at Okanagan College campuses. To find out more about the series or to discover a new career path, check out Okanagan College’s newly released fall 2018 Continuing Studies Brochure at


Thorpe awards helping students step into College this fall

Okanagan College Media Release

Meghan Stayberg is only 18, but she's already hosted multiple charity fundraisers, developed a leadership training program and holds a black belt in taekwondo.

Her achievements and community involvement recently earned her new recognition — a $2,500 award towards her first year at Okanagan College.

Thorpe gift

Stayberg is one of six students in the South Okanagan to receive a Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends scholarship. The annual $2,500 awards are given to high school students who demonstrate good grades while contributing to their communities.

"I was ecstatic when I learned I would be receiving this award," says Stayberg, who plans to become a secondary school teacher. "It costs a lot to get through school. This will take a load off my shoulders and will make the transition so much easier for me."

Kyra Marsden is another recipient of this year's scholarship, and will be entering the Water Engineering Technology program at Okanagan College Kelowna campus in September. Marsden, who has helped run community events like a haunted house for children in Summerland, says it feels good to be recognized for giving back to others.

"What I love about volunteering is seeing how what you do makes an impact for others,” says Marsden. “This award will help me to relieve stress and let me be able to focus my time more on learning the material than paying for the material that I’m learning.” 

Joining Stayberg and Marsden in receiving this year’s scholarships are Shaina Finlayson, Stephanie Legrange, Vayda Poetsch and Erika Spear.

“Rick and Yasmin Thorpe are making an incredible difference for students by lightening their financial loads,” says Kathy Butler, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “The Thorpe’s contributions to the College and student’s lives are significant, and we’re grateful for their continued support.”

Helping young people is meaningful for Rick and Yasmin Thorpe, who have been giving scholarships to students at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan for more than a decade.

“We’re always excited about young people because they are the future leaders,” says Rick. “I always encourage students that if they’re ever in a position to give back, to do so as well.”

Each year, the Thorpes host an event where they get an opportunity to meet the recipients and their families in person. This year’s awards ceremony took place June 19.

“Watching the faces of the students and their enthusiasm for starting a new journey that has to do with learning is so wonderful to watch,” says Yasmin. “Their excitement is contagious.”

In total, the Thorpes have awarded 59 scholarships with a value of $127,250 to Okanagan College students.

College breaks ground on new Health Sciences Centre in Kelowna


Minister Melanie Mark, Advanced Education, Skills and Training, was at Okanagan College today, July 19, to kick off construction on the College’s new 2,800 square-metre (30,000 square-foot) Health Sciences Centre at the Kelowna campus.

Minister Mark was joined by Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College; Susan Brown, VP and COO Hospitals and Communities for Interior Health; Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College; Maran Kokoszka a Pharmacy Technician student at the Kelowna campus, and other OC students, officials, partners and community members, in officially breaking ground on the $18.9-million building (toward which the Provincial Government is providing $15.4 million).


Minister Melanie Mark July 2018
Minister Melanie Mark
Jim Hamilton July 2018
Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton
 Breaking Ground Health Sciences July 2018
Groundbreaking ceremony - front row (L-R): Maran Kokoszka, Yvonne Moritz, Minister Melanie Mark, Jim Hamilton
and Susan Brown
 Groundbreaking Health Sciences July 2018
Minister Mark with OC student and officials and Interior Health officials

New Go-kart camp for girls revs up excitement about trades career paths
Okanagan College Media Release

A new go-kart camp at Okanagan College is offering youth more than just the thrill of sitting in the driver’s seat this summer – it’s giving girls ages 9-12 a week of hands-on training and the chance to test-drive a career in the trades.

Girls Can Go Kart Too 2018 1Girls can Go-Kart Too! is a pilot project by the College and the Industry Training Authority (ITA). The ITA stepped forward with more than $6,000 in support to help bring the project to life as part of the College’s popular CampOC summer camps.

“Our goal in working with the College to create this camp was to give young girls an engaging, exciting and welcoming glimpse into what a career in the skilled trades is all about,” explains Gary Herman, CEO of the ITA.

This week a dozen girls stepped into the Automotive shop at the Kelowna campus, tackling everything from designing their go-karts to working on small engines, changing the oil, replacing tires, testing and fixing brakes, and installing ignition kill switches – all under the watchful eye of College instructors.

Jordan Chahley is one of those campers.

“What I love about this camp is that we learned how to do design and build our go-karts,” says the 11-year old. “Last year I went to the 3D printing camp, but this one is different and for me it was a lot more fun. When my mom suggested it, I knew this was the one for me. After camp is done, I look forward to being able to help my dad change the oil.”

While the camp was designed to help girls build their skills in the shop, connecting them with mentors was another priority.

“The girls are learning from Red Seal Endorsed College instructors and they’re also getting mentorship, support and encouragement from the Women in Trades Team, WITT Industry Mentors and WITT foundation participants,” explains Nancy Darling, Program Administrator for the College’s Women in Trades Training Initiative (WITT).

“And that last part – connecting them with mentors and role models, young women they can identify with – is perhaps most important. The hands-on training they’re getting is awesome, but those opportunities to interact with and receive encouragement from women in trades will hopefully be extra motivating and meaningful to these girls.”

Girls Can Go Kart Too 2018 2After ensuring their go-karts were in good working order, the girls had a chance to put their creativity to work painting and decorating their carts.

Today, they took to the racetrack – which they also designed – to cap off the week with a friendly race and a BBQ with their parents, their instructors and officials from the College and the ITA.

“Above all, we hope this group of girls had fun and learned a lot this week, and hopefully their experience at the College sparks an interest or plants a seed that leads them to think about the skilled trades as part of their future plans for education,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College.

More information about the College’s Women in Trades Training Initiative is available at

VFX boot camp shines a spotlight on film industry career opportunities
Okanagan College Media Release

VFX July 2018If the visual marvels of summer blockbusters inspire you, an upcoming boot camp focused on VFX could help turn that inspiration into a career.

A collaboration between Okanagan College and the Vancouver Film School (VFS) is bringing about a weeklong boot camp designed to help students learn industry software basics, production process and how industry professionals create visual effects, or VFX, illusions.

Designed to boost portfolios of beginner to intermediate graphic artists and film artists, students will complete a fully executed shot using industry techniques in a suite of different graphics and video tools.

The boot camp will be led by Henrique Reginato, whose film credits include
Foxcatcher, Dark Matter, Gotham, Almost Human, Timeless, and Minority Report. He’ll pass on some key skills in the industry standard software, Nuke, and offer up his insights into the VFX production pipeline.

“The growing animation and VFX industry has created the opportunity for us to partner with the Vancouver Film School, says Dennis Silvestrone, Director, Continuing Studies and Corporate Training at Okanagan College.

“Bringing this unique training experience to the Okanagan is key in our efforts to continue to develop resources that support the growth of the area. And with the strong economic forecast for significant growth, now is a great time to be building a career within the industry.”

The weeklong course, which runs from July 30 to Aug. 3, will be presented at the Okanagan Innovation Centre at 460 Doyle Ave., in downtown Kelowna.

To learn more and register, visit

Registration is $500, plus GST. A special $50 discount is available to SD23 High School, Okanagan College and UBCO students and faculty, as well as Bardel, Yeti Farm and Hyper Hippo staff.


College info session shines a light on green building careers

penticton campus pageAaron Spohr never could have predicted that a quick glance at a sign while driving past Okanagan College would open his eyes to a new career and change the way he looked at the world. An upcoming info session at the Penticton campus is inviting others to follow in his footsteps and join the next wave of sustainable construction managers.

Okanagan College’s Sustainable Construction Management Technology (SCMT) program is a hosting an information session on Wednesday, July 4 from 6 – 7 p.m. The location is a fitting one – visitors will have a chance to tour the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence, which in 2016 was named the greenest post-secondary building in Canada by Corporate Knights magazine.

Attendees will have a chance to meet instructors and learn about the College’s two-year SCMT diploma program which gives graduates the technical knowledge, business savvy, and practical skills required to effectively manage construction projects of varying size and complexity.

The diploma program (initially a three-year pilot) launched in 2014. The first cohort graduated last spring. Since then, Dr. Amy Vaillancourt, Chair of the SCMT program, says the success stories she has heard back from SCMT alumni have been nothing short of inspiring.

“Our grads have stepped into all kinds of opportunities in management and technologist roles,” notes Vaillancourt. “It’s definitely not a cookie-cutter career. It’s for anyone who is interested in blending sustainability, technology and construction. Quite a number of our grads have found it a springboard to management or supervisory roles, and some have started their own successful businesses.”

Aaron Spohr is one of those grads who has used the program to grow his career locally.

Originally from Kamloops, Spohr was driving through Penticton a few years ago when he spotted a signboard outside the College advertising for a new program focused on sustainable construction.

“I had a little construction experience and a bit of an interest in sustainability, so when I got home and thought about it further, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to marry those two interests. 

Spohr enrolled in the program and moved with his family to Penticton. While still a student, he was hired on as a Project Coordinator for Ritchie Custom Homes. He graduated last summer and is now a Project Manager. 

“I want to be on the right side of history,” he says. “The time is now for us to look at how we can build in a more sustainable way. More and more people in the industry are getting onboard, so we definitely need people with the skills and knowledge to make it happen.”

“It’s very gratifying to get to go to work every day and know you’re part of building a home that can have the least impact on the environment while being a beautiful, functional custom home for someone.”

Spohr says the program transformed his outlook beyond the jobsite as well.

“For us, it changed the way we go to the grocery store. The choices we make – like bringing along re-usable bags for produce. It really helped clarify and change some lifestyle choices. It gave me a practical application for a sentiment I was feeling and led to a career that matters – one that I take a lot of pride in.”

Attendees of the info session will also have a chance to hear about a new offering launching this fall – the Post-Diploma Sustainability Studies Certificate.

“Like the diploma, the certificate is designed to meet the industry demand for managers and technologists who are specialized in sustainable construction,” explains Vaillancourt. “It will appeal to professionals with a diploma in engineering, architecture, or construction management who are looking to further their training.”

The new certificate will take two years to complete and will be delivered through a combination of online delivery and a short but intensive residency during each of the four terms.

More information is available at

Research trio advocate more work on AI security

What if someone hacked a traffic sign with a few well-placed dots, so your self-driving car did something dangerous, such as going straight when it should have turned right?

Don’t think it’s unlikely – it’s already happened – and an Okanagan College professor and his colleagues from France are among those saying that researchers have to invest more effort in system design and security to deal with hacks and security issues.

Youry Khmelelvsky

A research paper, co-authored by Okanagan College Computer Science Professor Dr. Youry Khmelevsky, and presented recently at an international conference held by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (the world’s largest technical professional society), summarizes the research that has already been done into the threats and dangers associated with the machine-learning processes that underpin autonomous systems, such as self-driving cars.

Their paper also points to the needs to take research and tool development for “deep learning” to a new level. (Deep Learning – DL - is what makes facial recognition, voice recognition, and self-driving cars possible. Deep Learning systems mimic neural networks – like your brain – that can take data and process it based on information processing and communication patterns. For a good description of how artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning connect to each other and the role they play in our daily lives, click here.)

The paper was authored by Dr. Gaétan Hains, Arvid Jakobsson (of Huawei Parallel and Distributed Algorithms Lab at the Huawei Paris Research Centre) and Khmelevsky. “Safety of DL systems is a serious requirement for real-life systems and the research community is addressing this need with mathematically-sound but low-level methods of high computational complexity,” notes the trio’s paper. They point to the need for significant work yet to be done on security, software, and verification to ensure that systems relying on deep learning are as safe as they could be.

“It sounds very abstract,” says Khmelelvsky, “but it isn’t. It’s here today whether it’s in your car or a device that recognizes your voice and commands.”

"Deep Learning-based artificial intelligence has had immense success in applications like image recognition and is already implemented in consumer products,” notes Jakobsson. “But the power of these techniques comes at an important cost compared to ‘classic algorithms’: it is harder to understand why they work, and harder to verify that they work correctly. Before deploying DL based AI in safety critical domains, we need better tools for understanding and exhaustively exploring the behaviour of these systems, and this paper is a work in this direction."

Do Hains, Jakobsson and Khmelevsky have the answer to prevent hacks that could send your car going straight, when it should go left? Not yet, but they are developing some research proposals that could help ensure that your car, and its systems based on artificial intelligence, don’t get fooled.

“Safe AI is an important research topic attracting more and more attention worldwide,” says Hains. “Dr. Khmelevsky brings software engineering expertise to complement my team's know-how in software correctness techniques. We expect to produce new knowledge and basic techniques to support this new trend in the industry.”

OC graduate uncorks wine industry career

For Linsay Ogden, 2018 has proven to be a very good year indeed. She crossed the stage at Okanagan College’s Summer Commencement ceremony on Wednesday and recently stepped into a rewarding new career in the Okanagan’s booming wine industry.summer convo 2018 media release

After working in the hospitality industry for several years, Ogden decided to switch sectors. She set her sights on an administrative role and enrolled in the Introduction to Office Administration Certificate program offered at the College to gain the education she needed.

“It was so easy to learn here,” says Ogden. “The were phenomenal – they even encouraged me to think critically about what I wanted for my long-term career plans.”

While in the program, Ogden decided to apply her newly acquired skills in the wine industry.

“The hospitality industry definitely has some crossover with the wine industry and I’ve always been intrigued by that world,” explains Ogden. “I immediately started looking for ways to use my skills at a local winery and searching for job openings – it wasn’t long before I got one.”

Shortly before graduation, Ogden was hired as estate coordinator for Black Hills Estate Winery.

Ogden is one of about 140 students from an array of Continuing Studies programs who were recognized at Summer Commencement on Wednesday at the Kelowna campus. About 165 more will earn credentials at Summer Convocation taking place tonight at 6 p.m. in the courtyard at the Kelowna campus – the ceremony marks the last of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year.

“This year Okanagan College will send more than 2,000 graduates out into the world,” notes the College’s President Jim Hamilton. “Among those graduates are our future home builders, educators, health care professionals, entrepreneurs and many, many other vocations – too many to name – that all will be critical to strengthening our economy and enhancing our communities in the region and far beyond. I commend each of our graduates on their achievements.”

Okanagan College Foundation welcomes new board members

The Okanagan College Foundation recently welcomed to its board five new directors who collectively bring diverse experience and community impact across a wide array of sectors from health care and technology to entrepreneurship, human resources and finance.

The new directors joining the Foundation board are:

• Paulo Araujo, Vice President of Retail and Business Banking at Valley First (South Okanagan)

• Sheri Hamilton, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (Shuswap-Revelstoke)

• Dr. Gerry Karr, a former Penticton doctor and cofounder of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition (South Okanagan)

• Christine Petkau, former Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland (South Okanagan)

• Brea Retzlaff, Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan (Central Okanagan)

“It’s wonderful to welcome committed industry leaders from up and down the valley to our board,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation.

“Our new directors join us at an exciting time and will have the opportunity to make a big impact for students. We have a growing student population that continues to need financial aid and we’re embarking on future development that will continue to transform our campuses.”

“The calibre of our new directors reflects the importance of the work carried out by the Foundation,” says Sharron Simpson, Board Chair, Okanagan College Foundation.

“Education is transformative to individuals and our communities, and we’re excited to continue ensuring education is accessible and our infrastructure reflects the quality of the education Okanagan College provides.”

The new board members join current board directors Chris Derickson, Surej Dhillon, Bob Eby, Colin Edstrom, Gladys Fraser, Kimberly White Gilhooly, Jim Hamilton, Rob Phare, Alan Sanderson, Sharron Simpson, and Tom Styffe.

Full biographies of the new board members are below:

Paulo Araujo, Valley First Vice President, Retail and Business Banking 

During the last 18 years, Araujo has worked in various roles within the organization, including Director of Retail Banking, Regional Manager South Okanagan Region, Senior Manager of Retail Credit and Branch Manager. In addition to his current role as VP of Retail and Business Banking, Araujo also runs his family’s orchard in the South Okanagan. He is Lean Green Belt Certified and has taken leadership courses through The Banff Centre.

Dedicated to community leadership, Araujo is active in Valley First’s signature cause, Feed the Valley and an avid supporter of the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association.

Sheri Hamilton, Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (SASCU) Associate Vice President, Human Resources

Sheri Hamilton is the Associate Vice President Human Resources at SASCU where she oversees a range of areas including talent management, performance management, organizational effectiveness, total rewards and employee relations. Hamilton manages the team responsible for SASCU’s award winning culture and strong employee engagement.

During her time at SASCU, the credit union has placed on the Progressive Employers of Canada List, B.C. Business Magazine’s Best Companies to Work for in B.C., and a WorkLife B.C. Award of Merit.

Dr. Gerry Karr

Karr’s professional education includes a PhD in Pharmacology, MD and FRCPC (Internal Medicine). After 8 years with the Faculty of Medicine at the U of Calgary, Karr recognized his overriding passion for clinical medicine, moving to his present home in Penticton where he practised internal medicine and nephrology until 2003. During this time he established the first renal program in the Okanagan Valley and, along with St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, the program pioneered the development of evidence-based chronic kidney disease clinics in B.C. In 2003, he championed the innovative Integrated Health Center in Penticton, which merged the programs for diabetes, CKD and CHF care in the Okanagan Similkameen region. Karr accepted a role as Medical Director of Kidney Services with Interior Health from 2006 until his retirement in March 2012.

In retirement Karr has pursued his interest in primary prevention and health promotion prompted by many years of first-hand experience treating patients with lifestyle-related chronic disease. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Fair and of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition.

Christine Petkau

Christine Petkau is from Manitoba and is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg. 

Together with her husband and children, Petkau moved to Summerland in 2002. She has worked in the public sector, both in Manitoba and B.C., in the design and delivery of programs focused on entrepreneurship and employment as well as back to work strategies for job seekers. In the private sector she has owned two small businesses with partners and worked as a North American product manager for several companies.

For the past 6 years she was Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland.

Brea Retzlaff, Accelerate Okanagan Director of Operations

Brea Retzlaff is the Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan. She has been supporting the growth of the Okanagan tech community for over five years. She spends her days overseeing day-to-day operations, managing the team, and ensuring strategic goals are being met.

Retzlaff graduated from Okanagan College with a degree in Business, but it was her hands-on experience managing a summer camp that gave her a taste for the startup life. Retzlaff also spent time working with Disney’s Club Penguin, where she was responsible for curriculum development, customer service training and policy documentation.

About the Okanagan College Foundation

Okanagan College Foundation has a mission to advance the power of education by engaging individuals and communities in contributing to Okanagan College. The foundation raises and manages private resources for the development and expansion of educational programs, services, capital projects, and student financial aid through scholarships, bursaries, and grants. To learn more visit


Paulo Araujo

sheri hamilton
Sheri Hamilton


Christine Petkau

brea retzlaff 250px

Brea Retzlaff

Education is prescription for grad’s career fulfilment
Okanagan College Media Release

Lonie Reimer knew she wanted to be a Health Care Assistant at a young age, a long-time dream that will become reality tomorrow when she crosses the stage and receives her credentials at Okanagan College’s Vernon ceremony.Lonie Reimer June 2018

Tuesday’s ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Greater Vernon Recreation Centre and will see students from Business, International Development, Education Assistant, Adult Special Education, Health Care Assistant, Arts, Sciences and more receive their credentials.

“When I was younger, my grandparents went into an assisted living facility for extra care,” explains Reimer. “We lived in different provinces at the time and I remember feeling heartbroken that I couldn’t be there to help them and that it was a complete stranger that gave them the care they needed. It sparked a little fire inside of me and I knew I wanted to be able to do the same for someone else’s grandparents one day.”

Reimer’s passion to become a Health Care Assistant (HCA) brought her to the College’s Vernon campus where she found more than just an education.

“HCA’s are inherent people-persons and my entire class of 27 began to form these amazing relationships and this wonderful community where we all helped each other learn, get through the really tough parts of the program, share each other’s successes, and really grow together,” says Reimer. “I’m leaving the College with an education, a job in hand and an amazing community of friends, colleagues and instructors.”

Reimer has already found work in the healthcare industry and currently works as an HCA in a private group home for people with special needs and at a senior’s home. She credits her training and practicum – which saw her spend eight weeks honing her skills at four different care facilities – for the success and rewarding feeling she gets after each shift.

“Being an HCA can be intimidating because you’re working with real people who need real care,” explains Reimer. “I’m so thankful I got to do a practicum as part of the program. The hands-on experience is amazing. It reminded me how much I had learned in class and showed me I was able to apply it – experiencing those success moments reminds you of why you’re doing this and makes you want to work even harder.”

The Vernon Convocation ceremony on June 26 marks the sixth of eight annual ceremonies the College will host this year. Students will hear from Mollie QuilQuil Sneena Bono, an advocate for Aboriginal peoples and SD #22 Trustee, who will be recognized at the ceremony as an Honorary Fellow – the highest honour bestowed by the College.

Also addressing graduates will be the College’s President, Jim Hamilton

“Our Vernon Convocation ceremony is a chance to recognize students attending Okanagan College from Vernon all the way to Salmon Arm and Revelstoke,” explains Hamilton. “But even more notable than the number of communities they hail from is the diversity of backgrounds and programs represented. From business to health care to the technologies and the skilled trades, these graduates will be among those ensuring the future prosperity of our region and far beyond. On behalf of Okanagan College, I commend each of our graduates on their accomplishments.”

Two more ceremonies will be held on Wednesday, June 27 and Thursday, June 28 at the Kelowna campus. By the end of June, more than 2000 students will have graduated from Okanagan College.

All ceremonies will be live streamed on the Okanagan College Facebook page at


OC researcher’s new works put outdoor play in Canadian context
Okanagan College Media Release

Two new textbooks are furthering an Okanagan College researcher’s efforts to inspire Canada’s early childhood educators to embrace the benefits of outdoor play for Canadian children.Beverlie Dietze June 2018

Dr. Beverlie Dietze has studied children’s outdoor play theories and behaviours in countless settings in the Okanagan and across Canada. Her observations have fueled two new works that are part of a new collection designed to inspire Canadian early childhood educators to join the outdoor play movement.

Less than a year after the publication of their book
Empowering Pedagogy For Early Childhood Education, Dietze and co-author Dianne Kashin have published an all-new text entitled Outdoor & Nature Play Early Childhood Education through Pearson Canada.

“The outdoor play movement is building momentum in Canada,” says Dietze, who is Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College and a recognized expert in outdoor play curriculum for children. “In order for that momentum to continue, we need to offer more educators new knowledge, examples and practices that make outdoor play principles accessible and place them in a Canadian context.”

For Dietze, that meant ensuring educators flipping through the book would immediately get a sense of place. The book includes examples and insights – as well as some of her own photography – from outdoor play workshops she has hosted at parks and nature areas around the Okanagan.

The local content and context is fitting as the book was released as part of Pearson’s Canadian Early Childhood Education Collection.

“The collection is written by Canadians for Canadians,” explains Dietze.

“This book was informed by movements around Indigenous education and environmental sustainability in Canada, along with a wide array of outdoor play concepts,” she says. “We’ve looked at how – and for how long – children play in natural play settings versus traditional play spaces, and shared findings we hope will help more and more educators provide children with meaningful outdoor play opportunities.”

It’s not the only work by Dietze and Kashin in the collection.

This spring the duo also released a second edition of their popular
Playing & Learning In Early Childhood Education textbook (the first edition has been adopted by institutions and educators across Canada since it was published by Pearson in 2011).

The new edition reinforces how play prepares children to develop critical thinking, problem solving, their desire to be curious, and creative expression that facilitates a host of developmental and social benefits.

Since becoming Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College, Dietze has garnered more than $350,000 for outdoor play related research projects, including a $91,000 research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and neighbourhood developer New Monaco which seeks to develop a one-of-a-kind outdoor play space in the Peachland neighbourhood.

In 2016, Dietze led an Okanagan College project that received $195,000 in support from the Lawson Foundation. Under her leadership, the project brought together a number of other post-secondary institutions and experts to collaboratively develop a specialized training model for ECEs about children’s outdoor play that has been delivered in person or online to more than 1500 educators across Canada.


Young OC alumni honoured for community impact
Okanagan College Media Release

Two young Okanagan College alumni are being recognized for their contributions to the local tech and business sector.

Brea Retzlaff and Drew Vincent have earned top honours from the College for their outstanding contributions within the community.

The duo are this year’s recipients of the Okanagan College Alumni Association’s (OCAA) Young Alumni Awards, an award that acknowledges alumni who demonstrate excellence in leadership, environment, business or industry, public or community service or arts. The OCAA has been conferring these awards since 1964 and this year marks the first time in the awards’ history that two Young Alumni Awards have been given out.

Brea Retzlaff June 2018Retzlaff completed her Business Administration degree from the College in 2013 and got an early start working in the tech-industry immediately after graduation. Now the Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan (AO) – a tech accelerator organization that helps coach and mentor local entrepreneurs – Retzlaff helps lead AO’s strategic direction and contributes a strong voice in the booming Okanagan tech-sector.

“This is such an honour and a surprise to be recognized by the Alumni Association with this award,” she says. “The College is very near and dear to me and this award means a lot – I’m proud to represent OC alumni.”

Retzlaff is known for her extensive community involvement and actively serves on the YMCA Okanagan Board, Big Brothers Big Sisters Board, Okanagan College Foundation Board, is on the Program Advisory Committee for the College’s new Animation program and is an influential member in several other community organizations and events. She also helps mentor the College’s Enactus team, a project she says is close to her heart as she was once part of the team and helped grow a new chapter at the Penticton campus in 2009.

Vincent completed his Business Administration degree in 2014 at the Kelowna campus and is a former President for Enactus OC. He is well known for his contributions to a number of youth initiatives and social enterprises – as well as being a champion for sustainability in the region.

“It’s been very important to me in my education and my career to connect with the community and address needs of young professionals in a tangible way,” explains Vincent. “I am very humbled to be recognized as one of this year’s Young Alumni Award recipients. The future of the workplace in the Okanagan is positive and I’m making it my mission to help support and be a resource for the next generation of young professionals.”

Vincent’s dedication to leadership, social change and entrepreneurship while a student led to him being named one of the most influential people at Okanagan College over the past 50 years in 2013. He was also named the 2017 Alumni of the Year for all of Canada for his contributions to the Enactus organization, both within the College and helping to start and grow the program at UBCO. To this day, he continues to mentor and coach current business students.Drew Vincent June 2018

Upon graduation, Vincent began working with Okanagan start-up companies doing strategic planning, marketing strategies and project management. He now works with local companies assisting with their operations as well as with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission running the Okanagan Young Professionals program, aiding the regions efforts to attract and retain skilled young professionals.

Vincent sits on the local immigration partnership council, aiding the region in its efforts to create a sense of belonging within the community. He is also on the board for the Okanagan Makers society, helping to launch a makers space to the region. His role as event director for Motionball Kelowna helps raise funds and awareness for developmental disabilities, last year raising $108,000 for Special Olympics Canada.

He is also heavily involved with the Kelowna Jaycees (Junior Chamber International) and was instrumental in moving the organization to co-ed membership for the first time in its history.

“Brea’s and Drew’s commitment to the community and the College is remarkable,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, OCAA. “On behalf of my fellow board members, I congratulate both of them on their accomplishments and can honestly say I am excited to see what they do next – our community is a better place because of people like them.”

Retzlaff’s and Vincent’s achievements will be celebrated at the annual OCAA awards ceremony at the College’s Kelowna campus on October 15. For more information on the awards and previous recipients, please visit


OC culinary student finds recipe for success, wins trip to Italy
Okanagan College Media Release

Erin MacDougallOkanagan College Level 2 Apprentice culinary student Erin MacDougall cooked her way to victory and an all-expenses paid trip to Italy at the third annual OC Road to Riccione Cook-off competition today.

The competition saw four OC students design and prepare their own Italian-themed menu. They were tasked with creating a main entrée featuring arctic char and a dessert, all in a little over two hours. Competitors were given the opportunity to see the available ingredients on the common table beforehand but were told to anticipate a surprise ingredient, which turned out to be eggplant, a revelation that came just before they took to their stations in the kitchen.

“I’ve been practicing non-stop for this competition and it’s an amazing feeling to see that my hard-work and training has paid off,” says MacDougall. “I was totally shocked when I found out I’d won.”

MacDougall’s winning dishes consisted of oak crusted arctic char, mushroom risotto, sautéed eggplant, seared asparagus heads, fennel, citrus slaw and golden beets laid onto of a vibrant spread of asparagus coulis. For her dessert, she presented crepes with a lemoncello lemon curd, whipped mascarpone, macerated raspberries and candied hazelnuts.

MacDougall's winning dishWhile cooking and preparing their dishes, competitors were judged on their technical skills, station organization, safety and sanitation by OC Culinary Arts instructors Chef Stuart Klassen and Chef Geoffrey Couper. The final dishes were then judged on presentation, timing, doneness, innovation, textures and portion sizes during a blind tasting by OC’s Chef Jim Armstrong, Sysco’s Chef Brent Durec and former owner and chef of Gray Monk restaurant, Chef Willi Franz.

“We saw some well-thought out and beautifully presented dishes during today’s competition,” says Armstrong. “The competition was very close and we commend each student for their passion, guts, dedication and hard-work. Competitions like these aren’t easy, especially when you’re competing for such a big prize as a free trip to Italy.”

MacDougall will be joined by a winning student from an upcoming competition hosted by the Okanagan Chef’s Association, and OC instructors Chef Jim Armstrong and Chef Mike Barillaro when they travel to Riccione in early October. The trip will see students tour a prosciutto factory, watch culatello and parmesan being made, travel to the city of Modena to learn about traditional balsamic vinegar and to Bologna to experience a one star Michelin restaurant.

“I am so excited to travel to Italy,” says MacDougall. “I’ve never been to Europe and being a young mom with a two-year old, big trips like this aren’t really in the cards for me at this point in time. This is a life-changer for me.”

MacDougall will also have the opportunity to do a bit of cooking while in Riccione. The five chefs will be working together to prepare a traditional Canadian thanksgiving dinner at the renowned award-winning Hotel Belvedere.

Road to Riccione competition

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and invaluable for up-and-coming chefs,” explains Chef Barillaro. “Each student put their heart into their plates and showcased a great level of composure, skill and technique in the kitchen today.”

Also competing in the cook-off were Culinary students Kassi Sherman, Leif Donglin Ye and runner-up Hannah Zheng.

The four students prepared meals in front of a crowd of friends and family and a few faces familiar to the College’s Culinary Arts program including former OC Culinary Manager Chef Bernard Casavant and 2016 Culinary Arts alumnus Josh Starrett. Casavant now serves as Director of Operations for RauDZ Creative Concepts Ltd. He oversees the company’s four restaurants including Sunny’s Modern Table where Starrett works and MacDougall is currently completing her co-op term.

“We came to support Erin today,” explains Starrett. “I competed in two of these competitions when I was a student and can tell you first-hand how valuable they were in my skills development. I think the secret to cooking in competitions is to cook happy and to not worry about whether you’re going to win or not, but to find happiness with the plate you put out.”

Longstanding businesses provide major gift to Vernon Trades Centre
Okanagan College Media Release

Two Vernon businesses with deep roots in the community are providing a strong foundation for the next generation of skilled trade workers training at Okanagan College.

R.E. Postill & Sons Ltd. and Postill Nixon Earthworks together are donating $25,000 to the new Trades Centre currently under construction at the College’s Vernon campus.Postill donation June 2018

The owners of the second- and fourth-generation family businesses have operated companies in Vernon for nearly 120 years.

Linsey and Jamie Johannson are the owners of R.E. Postill & Sons Ltd. and co-own Postill Nixon Earthworks with Braden Nixon. Linsey is the great granddaughter of Russell Eugene Postill, who founded R.E. Postill in 1944.

Braden's father, Paul Nixon, was involved in the development of the law firm now known as Nixon Wenger in 1975.

According to Linsey, giving back to the community has always been valued by her family and their businesses.

“It’s really important to support the community that has been supporting us for 75 years,” says Linsey.

Braden adds that investing in the Vernon Trades Training Centre was something the owners knew they wanted to support.

“We work in trades, and we know the value of having skilled trades people,” says Braden. “This state-of-the-art Centre will provide an opportunity for young people to get a quality education locally without having to move away, saving them money and making education more accessible.”

“We’re grateful for this generous gift from two Vernon families and companies whose contributions to the region span decades and industries,” says Michael Tindall, Chair of the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign.

“Because of their support, and many others like them, we’re now $60,000 from our campaign goal. The community of Vernon is showing young people that we want to invest in their future while also creating an economic boom for the region by increasing the number of skilled trades people available locally.”

The $6.2 million Trades Centre will have the capacity to train approximately 150 students per year.

The project is being supported through the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. Through this fund, the province of B.C. is investing $2.9 million and the government of Canada has provided $2.7 million toward the new Centre.

The Okanagan College Foundation set a fundraising goal of $1 million. The funds cover the remaining capital costs and will provide program and student bursaries and scholarships that will increase access to training.

More information about the new Trades Training Centre and fundraising campaign is available at


Infusions unveils new Okanagan-inspired menu and summer hours
Okanagan College Media Release

Infusions June 2018Those in search of a new go-to patio to sip Okanagan wines and savour locally-inspired bites will find their table at Infusions Restaurant at the College’s Kelowna campus this summer.

Starting on Friday, June 22, the restaurant will be open Tuesday – Friday, serving up an appetizer-style light menu from 2 – 4 p.m. and dinner starting at 5 p.m. (last seating at 7 p.m.).

The menu was carefully crafted with input from those who will be cooking it – the College’s Culinary Arts students.

“This year marks the first time the restaurant has been open over the summer months, which is very exciting for our students,” explains Culinary Arts instructor Chef Mike Barillaro. “It inspired us and challenged us to get creative in crafting the perfect Okanagan summer menu, one that really showcases all the wonderful local ingredients of the season.”

The new summer hours build on a model that has benefitted the College’s culinary students – and local diners – for years.

“From menu design to prep to cooking, Infusions offers our chefs-in-training first-hand experience in a fast-paced, real-world kitchen. The menu will change slightly over the summer, as students are learning new things as part of the curriculum. They take tremendous pride in ensuring our guests have a great experience,” says Barillaro.

Also just in time for summer and the new menu is a new patio set-up that will enhance the restaurant’s already picturesque view of the College’s courtyard.

“I always like to remind people that we have a bright, summery space here on campus,” adds Barillaro. “It’s a bit of a hidden gem, in Kelowna’s patio scene.”

Another benefit for diners? Infusions is one of the few restaurants in the valley that doesn’t charge corkage fees.

“You can bring in your own B.C. VQA wine and have it opened at your table at no charge,” explains Barillaro. “Of course, the restaurant also has a great selection of local wines, and our fantastic staff is more than happy to help you select and pair the perfect wines with your meal.”

Apart from closures for curriculum purposes from July 30 – Aug. 17 and Sept. 24 – 28., the restaurant will be open and the new summer-hours will be in effect until Sept. 21, when regular lunch and dinner service will resume.

Reservations are recommended. To find the new menu, visit To book a table call 250-862-5455 or


Penticton Child Care Centre named one of Canada’s most sustainable buildings
Okanagan College Media Release

The list of green accolades continues to grow for the Little Learners Child Care Centre at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus – it was recently recognized as one of Canada’s most sustainable new buildings.OC Little Learners Daycare Dec 2017

The child care facility, which opened its doors last September, picked up the Institutional (Small) Award at the 2018 Canadian Green Building Awards, presented by Sustainable Architecture & Building (SAB) Magazine announced in Toronto on June 5.

Okanagan College’s project was one of nine lauded as examples of the most advanced sustainably-designed buildings in Canada for 2018.

The jury, made up of architects and sustainable design experts, had this to say about the child care facility: “As a structure designed to the rigorous Passive House standard, this building is notable for the beauty and simplicity of its environmental systems. The building relies mostly on local materials and very economical passive design strategies.”

The facility is built to meet Passive House principles, a performance-based, voluntary, international construction standard for energy-efficient buildings that developed in Germany in the 1990s.

Designed by Penticton’s Landform Architecture Ltd. and built by Ritchie Custom Homes, the facility has already garnered two other awards since it opened last fall.

Last December, it became the first Passive House certified child care centre in the country. It was also named a Silver Finalist at the 2018 Tommie Awards in the category of Best Environmental Initiative in Construction (Residential or Commercial).

“Okanagan College is committed to being a leader in sustainability and to raising the bar for ourselves with each new facility we build,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are very proud to be recognized among the institutions – and the stunning new and renovated facilities – that made the list.”

The project was made possible by a $500,000 investment by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development and support from donors throughout the area. The Okanagan College Foundation embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise $700,000. More information and ways to support is available at

The full list of 2018 Canadian Green Building winners is available at


Alumnus returning to OC as Vice President
Okanagan College Media Release

Curtis Morcom left Okanagan University College with a Business Administration Degree in 2004. He will return this August as Okanagan College’s Vice President, Employee and Corporate Services.Curtis Morcom June 2018

Morcom, a Chartered Professional Accountant, graduated from OUC’s Bachelor of Business Administration with honours the year before OUC transformed to become Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan (2005). The Business Administration program has carried on as one of Okanagan College’s two degree programs. He says the learner-centred educational programming and practical work co-op experience gained while at OUC has left him with an abiding respect for the College, its programs, and deep community partnerships.

“I have watched over the past years and am very impressed by how the College has grown and integrated with the communities it serves. And, of course, I am always proud to tell people I received my BBA from OUC.”

“Curtis’ experience in the public and private sectors, as well as a demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit, convinced us he would be a great fit with the College,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our search for the position drew applicants from across the country, but it was fortunate that we found the best candidate in Kelowna, and even more remarkable that we can count him as an alumnus.”

Since 2010, Morcom has been Director of Integrated Planning and Chief Budget Officer at UBC Okanagan and also recently served as a member of the UBC Board of Governors. Morcom has more than 20 years of senior management experience across a range of industries including, education, health, professional services, leasing and land development. At 21 years of age, Morcom was the youngest person to be awarded a franchise agreement of a leading national retailer. By the age of 25, Morcom oversaw operations of 26 retail locations throughout Manitoba. Morcom has also obtained a Chartered Director (C.Dir) designation through McMaster University and the Conference Board of Canada. Morcom and family have called the Okanagan home for the past 17 years.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the entire team at the College. They have accomplished many remarkable things and have established a great reputation within the region and nationally since I finished my degree. It is an honour to serve in this position and have the opportunity to contribute to the continued success and growth of the College.”


OC apprentice builds his way onto the podium at Skills Canada Nationals
Okanagan College Media Release

For his display of skill and precision under pressure, an Okanagan College-trained carpenter was recognized among the best in the country at Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC).

Lukas Pfob June 2018Lukas Pfob, a Level 4 Carpenter apprentice, brought home the Silver medal in the Carpentry competition at SCNC, which took place in Edmonton on June 4-5.

SCNC is the only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices in the country. This year more than 500 competitors from across Canada made the trip to Edmonton to put their nerve and know-how to the test in more than 40 skilled trade and technology categories.

“The whole experience from start to finish is mind-blowing,” says Pfob, who is employed by Team Construction Management in Kelowna. “It’s very much like the Olympics but for trades. Until you’ve seen it, you really can’t appreciate how hard the competitors work. It challenges you in so many ways.”

It was Pfob’s second chance to seize the challenge at Nationals. Last year, he notched a strong showing but fell short of the podium in Winnipeg. He punched his ticket to Edmonton, and another shot at Nationals, with a gold medal-winning performance at the Provincial competition in Abbotsford back in April.

His nationals test this year? It was no child’s play.

After the fanfare of the opening ceremonies subsided, Pfob and his fellow competitors had just 12 hours over the course of two-days to construct an intricate play house from scratch. And while he says the time constraint was nerve-racking, Pfob also had to overcome the challenge of working almost elbow-to-elbow with the competition.

“Looking up and seeing the best apprentices from the other provinces and territories working a few feet away is tough,” he says, “but I knew from my experience last year – and from all the work I’ve put in with my instructors – that I had to ignore them and stay as focused as I could on the task at hand.”

That focus – and the years of preparation at the College and on the jobsite – paid off.

“When I found out I came in second, I was ecstatic,” says Pfob. “These truly are some of the best carpenters in Canada, so I take a lot of pride in this showing. I’m very grateful to all my instructors and everyone who has helped me along the way.”Pfob, Vanlerberg, Mclaren June 2018

The medal was Pfob’s first at nationals and fifth overall at Skills Canada competitions, including consecutive gold medals at Provincials the past two years.

“We’re immensely proud of Lukas for his achievements at Skills Canada competitions this year – and over the years – and equally so for the fine example he’s setting for his fellow students and apprentices at the College,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

Pfob recently completed his Level 4 apprenticeship at the College. Prior to jetting off to Edmonton, he delivered the student address at the Trades Commencement ceremony at the Kelowna campus last month.

“Every instructor I have had, from high school to 4th year at the College, has pushed me to greater levels of success,” explains Pfob. “I hope one day to be able to do the same. I’d love eventually to have the opportunity to teach, to inspire others to push themselves to always keep learning, to take pride in their field and generally just strive to be the best they can be.”

Pfob was joined by two other Okanagan College students at Nationals. Vernon’s Bradley Vanlerberg competed in the Aerospace Technology category and Kelowna’s Conner McLaren competed in the Automotive Service category. All three students won gold at the provincial Skills Canada competition on April 18.


Car Dealers Rev Up Support for OC Automotive and Business Students
Okanagan College Media Release

New Car Dealers_1 June 2018The New Car Dealers Foundation of British Columbia is helping power success with $10,000 annually in new awards for Trades and Business students at Okanagan College.

The annual awards ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 each will support students in the Automotive Service Technician apprenticeship and foundation programs, plus the Business Administration program.

“The demand for skilled automotive service technicians and business professionals is increasing throughout the automotive sector,” says Blair Qualey,
President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C.

“We see partnerships with training institutions like Okanagan College as integral to service delivery and the prosperity of our member dealerships.”

There are 29 new car dealer members in the Okanagan including six dealerships operated by Sentes Automotive.

Adam Rich, Sentes Automotive Group General Manager, says he hopes the awards will encourage more young people to enter the automotive industry and stay local after graduation.

“We’re always looking for more technicians. We know the value of the Okanagan College program, we’ve hired grads in the past, and we’re thrilled to support it,” says Rich.

“We are very grateful to the New Car Dealers Foundation for this investment in our students’ futures,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation. “The creation of these new awards will both help attract and retain students, ultimately connecting them to a vibrant and expanding industry, especially in the Okanagan.”

“These awards are unique in that they will open doors for trades students while also supporting the next generation of business professionals pursuing careers in the automotive sector.”

The New Car Dealers Foundation presented its first set of awards in Kelowna in April.

Among the recipients was Paul Whitlock, a student in the Automotive Service Technician program. Whitlock plans to complete his Red Seal Endorsement and then go on to business school.

“This award will make it easier for me to progress through my apprenticeship with less stress about being able to afford it all,” says Whitlock. “I can't thank the donors enough for this very generous gift. It will help me achieve my dream.”

The New Car Dealers Association of B.C. represents more than 390 New Car Dealers throughout the province, who generate more than $16 billion in economic activity, pump $2.9 billion net GDP directly into B.C.’s economy, and employ more than 30,000 high paying jobs in 54 communities they serve.

For more information on the new training hub visit


Enactus OC project transforms elementary students into authors in the South Okanagan

A class of Grade 4 students at Queen’s Park Elementary in Penticton are some of the region’s newest published authors thanks to a new initiative by Okanagan College’s Enactus team.enactus pen news

Carrie-Ann McAlpine and Christie Reid, both business students at the Penticton campus, recently spent three days in the classroom working with students to write and illustrate their own stories.

“We wanted to develop a fun, hands-on way for the students to think about reading and writing – and something that ultimately could help teachers make literacy more exciting and tangible,” says McAlpine. “Our aim was to transport them into the mindset of an author.”

The theme, fittingly, was transportation. Over the course of three days, students learned about transportation – past and present – and were tasked with working in groups to envision and write about future modes of transport.

And while the College students may have been used to group work, they quickly found out it was a new experience for their elementary school subjects.

“For many of the students, it was their first group project ever, or the first of this scale where they worked together over a few days,” explains McAlpine. “So it turned out to be a great learning experience on the literacy side of things, and it also challenged them to work together, listen to each other, and make decisions as a group.”

Before stepping into the classroom, McAlpine and Reid found a way to make the students feel more like the real-world authors they know and look up to.

“We approached the Kiwanis Club of Penticton which agreed to cover the cost of professionally printing the students’ stories,” explains McApline. “When we brought in the published works, the students eyes lit up. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of, as a student or otherwise.”

Like the students they mentored, McAlpine and Reid have now turned their attention to imaging what the future could look like. They hope to grow the project and be able to replicate the writing and publishing experience for students in more classrooms and schools. They’re also looking into how the students’ published works could be sold to provide schools and community organizations such as Kiwanis with a new fundraising tool.

“This project really embodies what Enactus Okanagan College is all about,” notes Dr. Sheilagh Seaton, a professor with the College’s School of Business and a faculty advisor for Enactus OC.

“Carrie-Ann and Christie took a simple idea and found a way to bring it to life in the community to benefit others and foster new collaborations and opportunities. It’s been wonderful to watch how quickly they realized their vision and the positive impact it has had on students in the pilot project.”