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Records 1 to 4 of 19
OC passes $100 million budget
Okanagan College Media Release

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

The Board passed the budget Tuesday at its regular meeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information visit

Nominations open for 2016 OCAA Alumni Awards
Okanagan College Media Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Provincial funding spurs program for Health Care Assistants in Princeton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit for more information. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okanagan College Media Release

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

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

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

(Monster Money will soon be rebranding as Spot.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joan Ragsdale will start her new job on May 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Award-winning play A.K.A. Fangirl ready for premiere
Okanagan College Media Release

AKA Fangirl March 2016Okanagan theatre-goers have a chance to see the inaugural presentation of an award-winning play, when Okanagan College’s Red Dot Players present A.K.A. Fangirl, a play written by Jeremy Beaulne, an OC English professor and playwright.

The play will run from March 10 to March 13 at the College’s Kelowna campus in the campus theatre.

The play is being directed by Beaulne, and focuses on the life of Nichelle O’Neil, a high-school student and aspiring comic book creator. During her adventures at a comic book convention, her world is juxtaposed with the exploits of the superhero characters she created for a graphic novel she is writing.

A.K.A. Fangirl won “Best Full-Length Play” in Theatre BC’s 2014 playwriting competition.

Tickets for the production are $15 for adults, and $12 for students and seniors. They are available for cash only at Leo’s Videos, Mosaic Books, the Okanagan College campus store, and at the door.  Beaulne warns that the presentation includes
coarse language, intense scenes, and flashing lights and that it may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

“I’m really excited about how this play has come together,” says Beaulne, who is also artistic director for the Red Dot Players. “We have an incredible cast and crew who have managed to bring my characters to life in a way I only hoped as I was writing the play.”

Ashley Johnson, 18, plays the lead role.

"I didn't have to do a lot to prepare for Nichelle. Our personality types are pretty much the same, and the way she reacts to situations is pretty much the way I would,” says Johnson. “We're both very guarded and unsure about people, and we're both supremely into comics. Nichelle takes it a step forward and is drawing her own, while I just sit around enjoying them.”

There are other differences, though, notes Johnson. “Nichelle absolutely does not do costumes. She goes to a convention dressed in all black! Meanwhile, I'm a cosplayer so I do costumes, and it's becoming a big part of my life that Nichelle does not share with me at all. But besides those minor things, I pretty much am Nichelle. This couldn't be a more perfect play for me to be in.”

(For those who aren’t familiar with the term cosplayer, it is used to describe someone
who dresses up like a character from a comic book, manga or anime series, movie, or videogame.)

“I think the people who will enjoy this play are cosplayers and nerds of all sorts,” says Johnson. “You like Star Wars? Well, I'll give you a semi-mean line about Mark Hamill. You like cosplay and superheroes? We've got both! Who wouldn't want to hear about the adventures of a group of socially inept nerds who are able to get a very shielded nerd to open up to them and actually become friends?"

Beyond Johnson, the cast includes Kevin Morrison as Jack/Dr. Nocturnus, Zoe Sommerfeld as Louise/Vibrato, Torsten Nogel as Bernie/Winged Fury, Ruby Bullock-Spitz as Miriam/Lupescu, Zoë Sehn as Allyson/Chimera, Harry Grossmith as Laurence, Amy Williams as Super Panda, Jeremy Ratt as the narrator/Lucas, Mike Boulter as a comic book fan, and Amy Wagner as another comic book fan.

You can find more information about this production and the Red Dot Players’ previous productions (this is the troupe’s sixth) at
College's CANSave project teaches financial skills to local elementary students

Okanagan College Media Release

CANSaveElementary school students in Kelowna have been getting an early education in financial literacy thanks to an innovative curriculum integration program developed by Enactus Okanagan College students in partnership with Valley First.

In January a group of five College students, under the direction of Okanagan College School of Business Professor Devin Rubadeau, began sharing their knowledge and passion for financial literacy with two Grade 3 classes at AS Matheson Elementary. Over a five-week period, the College students created a simulated economy within the classroom to teach the children the values of needs vs. wants, saving for the future, and the importance of giving back.

“Research has shown that life changing behavior is instilled when applied at the earliest age possible,” says second-year Bachelor of Business Administration student and CANSave project manager Abbey Jones. “Talking about money can be taboo in families and by the time kids start post-secondary the lure of credit cards and the task of managing finances often leads them to a debt scenario. We wanted to design something to help avoid this.”

Using pretend Enactus Bucks, the 50 elementary students earned a wage for completing their assigned CANSave workbooks, had to pay “desk rent” each week of the program, and were also tempted with games, toys, and stationary in a classroom store. Students also encountered the unexpected expense of the classroom Smart Board breaking. They could earn additional wages for completing bonus sheets in their workbook, and showing exceptional behaviours that would be viewed positively in a future workplace. The program also involved parent participation at home, encouraging meaningful conversations about money within the family.

Valley First contributed savings account passports to the students to help them track their savings and expenses. It made the simulation that much more real. The organization also committed to providing $25 for each student who successfully completed the program. The dollars earned were to be combined and donated to a charity of the class’s choice.

Within the first two weeks of the program one third of the students learned a valuable lesson: they were in debt.

“We saw a lot of peer pressure in class where one friend chose to use their Enactus Bucks to buy a toy, and as such the other, even if they couldn’t afford it, did the same,” says Jones. “But when we explained spending above and beyond would mean they wouldn’t have money left to donate to their charity of choice, the SPCA, they got motivated to clean up their finances.”

On Feb. 23, the students from AS Matheson were joined by their Enactus Okanagan College teachers to proudly presented a cheque from Valley First for $1,125 to the Kelowna SPCA, demonstrating that money isn’t all just about earning and spending, but also about having the freedom to give back to the community.

The CANSave curriculum, which was developed around the B.C. Ministry of Education Elementary School Curriculum (taking into account recent updates), has caught the eye of other teachers in the region.

“It’s exciting to see the positive feedback from Kelowna’s teaching community for this student-led program,” says Rubadeau. “One of the pilot teachers is planning to introduce this to other teachers in the district at an upcoming professional development event. Two School District 23 teachers will also adapt the curriculum and incorporate it into their lesson plans for their Grade 1 classes. It’s amazing and a testament to the great work by our College students.”

Teachers interested in learning more about how they can include CANSave into their lesson-plans can contact Devin Rubadeau at

In a world where milliseconds matter, research is king
Okanagan College Media Release

WTFast_YK_Mar2016Already a leader in its niche in the multi-billion dollar global gaming industry, Kelowna’s WTFast sees a track to growth, with applied research as a vital component of the fuel to take it there.

That is one of the reasons the company, a private gaming network provider, is matching an investment by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in an Okanagan College research project that aims to improve action-to-reaction communication for gamers across the world. Each of the three organizations are contributing to the $750,000 project which is led by Okanagan College Computer Science department Chair Dr. Youry Khmelevsky.

WTFast is already making strides in providing optimum real-time communication for gamers with its Gamers Private Networks (GPN). In that world a network delay, as small as 48 milliseconds (less than half of one-tenth of a second), can be the winning difference between a player and his opponent.

“The internet is very dynamic and complex. With improved automated network intelligence results, we anticipate we can more than triple our daily active users by providing a fast, reliable and secure GPN across the globe,” says WTFast CEO Robert Bartlett.

Bolstering the region’s tech sector prominence, the project will pursue ongoing research on improving speed, connectivity, and security of GPNs. It was awarded a $225,000 NSERC Applied Research and Development Grant Level 2. WTFast contributed an additional $450,000 to the research: $225,000 in funding, and further in-kind resources in the form of employee work hours and equipment use valued at approximately $225,000. Okanagan College also invested time release for the professors involved and technological resources worth $75,000. The funding will be disbursed over three years.

“Receiving this significant funding is validation at the national level of the work done to date and also demonstrates the tremendous support from local industry,” says Khmelevsky. “Gaming’s popularity is only increasing. This project will certainly help WTFast and the gaming industry and also helps put Okanagan College on the same playing field as leading worldwide universities and technology institutes who are conducting instrumental industry-shaping research.”

Five Okanagan College students from the Computer Information Systems (bachelor and diploma) and the Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology diploma programs will work on the research, giving them relevant and valuable experience. Beyond their demanding program course loads, students in these research positions will be engaged for 15 hours a week, and then full-time during summer term.

“Hiring these students provides them the obvious financial benefit while they pursue post-secondary education, but the greatest benefit is that it gives them the opportunity to see the immediate application of their skills and knowledge learned in class,” says Khmelevsky.

In addition to the students and Khmelevsky, Okanagan College Professor Scott Fazackerley, as well as a consultant in France and WTFast employees will all contribute to the research in meaningful ways.

For Bartlett, working with the College to provide relevant industry experience and support curriculum development that keeps up with current demands is essential.

“Investing in the research was an easy choice. We are getting the opportunity to help shape future high-tech employees for WTFast and other local companies, and it’s a partnership that ensures students are getting skills and experience that will help them in the real world upon graduation,” says Bartlett.

“We are keen to support faculty in their applied research projects that will better serve students, communities, and industry. This is a key direction for the College,” says Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President Education. “On behalf of the College I congratulate Dr. Khmelevsky on having his research recognized prominently and anticipate a tremendous impact that it will have both on the students’ learning experience at the College, and the industry as a whole.”

This is the second level of funding for the research project. In 2014 Khmelevsky received a $25,000 grant from NSERC and in-kind support from WTFast to launch the research.

SkillsBC and Spaghetti Bridge lined up for Friday
Okanagan College Media Release

Friday is shaping up to be a very busy day at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, as it plays host to the 33
rd annual Spaghetti Bridge building competition and the 20th annual SkillsBC Regional Competition.

The Spaghetti Bridge building contest is expected to draw about 160 competitors from elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools, while the SkillsBC Regional Competition will draw more than 150 students from Grade 6 to 12 from throughout the region. That’s a record number of participants who will test their skills in everything from automotive service to culinary arts.

The SkillsBC and Spaghetti Bridge competitions draw students from Revelstoke to Oliver.

“This is a great day for school district students to test out their skills and abilities alongside others in their trade, in well-equipped shops with a healthy mix of excitement and stress,” explains Dianne Holm, the SkillsBC Regional Competition Co-ordinator. “Students benefit in many positive ways from this experience with the gold medalists qualifying to compete at the provincials in April.”

The competitions being run at the College include:
  • Automotive Service
  • Architectural Computer Aided Design
  • Cabinet Making
  • Carpentry
  • Culinary Arts
  • Electronics
  • Mechanical Computer Aided Design
  • Welding
  • Jr. Skills – Gravity Vehicle race
  • Jr. Skills – Spaghetti Bridge

“We also expect over 400 non-competitors to attend,” says Holm. “We supplement the day with an Explore the Trades event that offers tours of our shops and culinary arts kitchens, hands-on activities and the opportunity to use welding and paint simulators. Big White Resort will have a booth set up as will others from the community.”

“And, of course, everyone can pop their heads in to watch the Spaghetti Bridge contest as it unfolds.”

The pasta-focused event starts at 9:30 a.m. and wraps up at approximately 1 p.m. with awards for the heavyweight competitions. The full schedule can be found at

The SkillsBC Regionals and Explore the Trades events are made possible by the support from local businesses and Skills Canada BC, as well as a host of volunteers notes Holm. Information about the day is available online at The competitions and their ceremonies can be watched live online between 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at

Several organizations also support Spaghetti Bridge, including the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia.