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Three Okanagan College students are on their way to Moncton, NB to compete in the Skills Canada National competition following their gold medal wins at the provincial competition, which was held in Abbotsford on April 13. The three gold medalists were joined on the podium by an additional eight students who earned four silver and four bronze medals for the College in categories that ranged from Aerospace Technology and Carpentry, to Culinary Arts.
Okanagan College was the best in B.C. in the areas of Electronics, Aerospace Technology and Automotive Service. Second-year student Zachary Andrews won gold in the Electronics category. Spencer Humphries, a first-year student in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering M License program, won in Aerospace Technology and Aaron Schmidt, a level 4 apprentice, led the College to gold in Automotive Service. He was one of three Okanagan College apprentices who finished in the top three in the province – OC swept the automotive category.
Automotive Service instructor Jamie Bloomfield said he was extremely proud of the efforts of his students, who he referred to as the dream team.
“Each one of our students took the competition preparation and practices very seriously,” he said. “They had great attitudes and were very motivated. During the competition they shook the nerves off quickly and performed beautifully – I couldn’t be prouder.”
By the end of the competition, Okanagan College had captured 11 medals. Other institutions that took part included Vancouver Island University, BCIT, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Camosun College, North Island College, Northern Lights College, University of the Fraser Valley, Thompson Rivers University and Vancouver Community College.
Okanagan College students placed as follows:
Zachary Andrews – Electronics
Spencer Humphries – Aerospace Technology
Aaron Schmidt – Automotive Service
Dale Blumhagen – Automotive Service
Curtis Koepke – Refrigeration
Sarah Maw – Culinary Arts
Lukas Pfob – Carpentry
Hugo Beaumier-Martin – Automotive Service
Andrew Kennedy – Aerospace Technology
Rav Matharoo – Heavy Equipment Service
Rudi Verlinden – IT – Network Systems Administration
The National Skills Canada competition attracts more than 500 competitors who compete in 40 contest areas, each vying for a chance at a coveted gold medal. The program was launched in 1994, and is the only national multi-trade and technology competition for young students and apprentices in the country.
The Centre of Excellence earned the top honour – Gold – in the university and college buildings category of the 2016 Green Buildings Review, a recent ranking of Canada’s greenest buildings.
“This latest recognition for the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence is heartening for us because it re-affirms the high level of sustainability we have been able to achieve and maintain since the building opened in 2011,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.
“Sustainability is deeply rooted in our core values, and this ranking will challenge us as an institution to continue to push the envelope in providing our students with learning environments that embody and inspire innovation.”
The review was released in March by Corporate Knights magazine, a nationally distributed publication focused on corporate ethics. It identified Canada’s dozen greenest buildings, as selected by a panel of building industry experts.
In order to earn a spot in the top 12, the Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus first had to land on a shortlist of 22 leading facilities whittled down from an original pool of 200. Judges awarded distinctions of Gold, Silver, and Bronze to the greenest buildings in each of four categories: universities and college buildings, hospitals, office buildings, and other public buildings.
Okanagan College faced strong competition in its category. UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability in Vancouver was awarded Silver, and Dalhousie’s Mona Campbell Building received the Bronze award.
“It is a great source of pride for our students and staff that our facility stands among other leaders in the post-secondary sector, and among buildings in much larger centres,” says Donna Lomas, Okanagan College’s Regional Dean of the South Okanagan-Similkameen.
“We could not be more pleased with the way the building has attracted people here to learn, work, and collaborate—from students and staff, to members of the community, to visitors from all over the world.”
This most recent accolade adds to a growing list of provincial, national, and international recognition garnered by the building for its achievements in sustainability. It was one of only three buildings in North America to be featured by the New York Times as examples of carbon-neutral post-secondary facilities.
The College received LEED Platinum certification in June 2015. A ceremony was held this past February to unveil the official Platinum plaque bestowed upon the College by the Canada Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is globally recognized as a means of assessing green building practices and outcomes. Platinum is the highest LEED certification that can be achieved.
The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence opened in 2011, and was jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments along with more than $9 million in community contributions. Since the opening of the building, continued community support has also helped to launch new programs and create additional support for students at the Penticton campus.
Read the full results of the 2016 Green Building Review here.
Helping bridge the technology age-gap, twins Daniel and Rebecca Alfred and Sam Jamieson, all Enactus Okanagan College students, have stepped up to connect 28 Missionwood Retirement Resort residents with 15 student volunteers for hands-on tablet tutorials throughout the month of March.
Over the course of four sessions the Silver Surfers project covered the basics of how to use an iPad from turning it on, adjusting volume controls, taking pictures, FaceTiming with family, and how to post, like and comment on Facebook.
“Working part-time at Missionwood, I’d see family members give the gift of a tablet to their grandparent, but without showing them how to use it,” says Daniel Alfred, now in his third year of a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Okanagan College. “I’d help where I could, but I knew more could be done. That sparked the idea of Silver Surfers.”
He points out that research has shown that many seniors face depression and isolation. Silver Surfers was developed with the goal of helping them reconnect with their loved ones by using the very technology they were being gifted to alleviate these feelings.
First lesson: taking a selfie.
“It was a great ice-breaker with the volunteers, and was quite fun to see these individuals, many over 70 years young, discover the phenomenon of the selfie,” adds Alfred. “It was incredible to see the relationships forming, and the true connections.”
“I enjoyed the students so much,” echoes resident Lois Patterson. “They were very kind, helpful, and patient with us seniors.”
Complementing the hands-on learning experience, the three business students designed an illustrative booklet with step-by-step instructions to help refresh the memory of the tablet users ongoing.
TELUS Kelowna generously loaned five 3G enabled iPads to the cause, and has committed to doing so again as the program expands to other residences. The project is also branching out across the region after Enactus Okanagan College at the Salmon Arm campus expressed interest in launching Silver Surfers at a seniors’ residence in the community.
The College has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Canada Company, a charitable, non-partisan organization that serves to engage, educate and build ties between community and business organizations and the Canadian Military. The charity’s goal “is to ensure that the men and women in our Canadian Armed Forces receive the widest support, care and recognition that they deserve.”
The MoU means Okanagan College joins other Canadian post-secondary institutions that are working with Canada Company under the Military Employment Transition (MET) program to provide vets and reservists with recognition for training and experience they have received as they take credential programs at the institutions. It means they may be able to fast-track their way to a credential - an important link to military members’ and veterans’ successful transition to second careers
“This opens a door for military veterans and personnel to get credit for prior learning as they enter programs at Okanagan College,” explains Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President Education. “It is a superb way to take what they have learned in their careers with the Canadian Armed Forces and transition into careers in the private sector.”
The College joins BCIT, NAIT, Fanshawe College, Eastern College and Marine Institute as participants in the program.
“We’ve already had some interest from a reservist in Kelowna when he learned we were becoming a part of this initiative,” notes Teresa Kisilevich, an Associate Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business and a key player in the College’s involvement.
“We’re pleased at Okanagan College’s decision to sign on to the MET program,” explains Canada Company President Angela Mondou. “Okanagan College offers an array of programs that veterans and reservists are interested in, from business administration to trades, to engineering technology programs. Many of our vets have undertaken significant training in the military that transfers directly to the business world. Being able to have their prior learning recognized will make credential achievement and transition to employment that much easier.”
For more information or to learn more about the program, veterans and reservists can contact Kisilevich at 250 762-5445, ext. 4393 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(Okanagan College currently has ties to the Canadian Armed Forces through its Electronic Engineering Technology diploma program, which is accredited by the national military, meaning that students can apply to the Forces and be paid while achieving their diploma at OC, with guaranteed employment on successful completion.)
At the annual President’s Dinner held on March 31 in Kelowna, President Jim Hamilton recognized 145 students for being ambassadors of Okanagan College, noting that the students’ participation in events revealed admirable levels of commitment by these individuals and their instructors to the College’s community.
Student ambassadors participated and represented the College at 17 competitions and events across Canada this past year including, but not limited to, business case competitions, Skills Canada, computer programming events, and culinary battles. In many instances they earned podium finishes, and showcased the high-level of skills, training, and education they have received while studying at the College.
The evening of celebrating success included a sumptuous buffet feast prepared by the Culinary Arts students and Culinary Manager Chef Bernard Casavant.
PrairieCoast Equipment has pledged $50,000 toward the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign in support of the new Trades Training Complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. To the excitement of students and instructors, the first installment of the company’s donation arrived on four wheels.
The College’s Heavy Duty Trades shop now boasts a piece of equipment geared towards Okanagan industry: a farm tractor suited to orchard and vineyard work.
“We’re projecting about a 10 per cent increase in our technician workforce this year,” explains Johnson. “So we wanted to provide a piece of equipment that would really benefit and be interesting to students, and that also spoke to the need for skilled workers in our field.”
In the Thompson Okanagan alone, it is projected there will be a need for more than 1,000 new heavy duty equipment mechanics and operators over the next eight years—a need the College is well geared up to address following the renovation and expansion of its facilities. BC Student Outcomes data reinforces the demand; the annual Province-generated survey of recent post-secondary graduates shows that 100 per cent of heavy-duty apprentices from Okanagan College are employed, and at an average wage of $40 an hour.
“We’ve completely updated our Heavy Duty shop and added a 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space,” says Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “Support from local industry like PrairieCoast Equipment has played a big role in our ability to make those upgrades to the learning environment.”
The Okanagan College Foundation launched the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign in October 2014 to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. Of the more than $5.8 million raised to date, donors from in and out of region have stepped up with $250,000 in equipment, from tractors to front-end loaders to collections of hand tools.
“Donations of equipment like this one by PrairieCoast also help us ensure that our students can familiarize themselves with a wide variety of vehicles they are going to encounter out on the job,” says Moores.
The new Trades Training Complex represents one of the College’s most ambitious capital projects, valued at more than $33-million and designed to meet the highest standards of sustainability and green-building technology. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.
Shops and classrooms have come online in the renovated areas in recent months but students will now have their first glimpse into the all-new three-storey, 5,500 sq. metre Trades Training Complex. Classes begin this week while finishing touches on the building progress. An official grand opening for the new complex is being planned for the fall.
The Okanagan College Foundation is endeavouring to raise about another $1.3 million to complete the project, the bulk of which will go towards funding for students to help increase access and support student success in trades programs.
To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.
PrairieCoast Equipment is a BC- and Alberta-based company with eight locations across both provinces, including one in Kelowna. Another location is slated to open in Prince George later this spring.
Kelowna runners took the top spots in Okanagan College’s 14th annual Half Marathon, 10 KM and Relay Race on Sunday, April 3.
Kelowna’s Christy Lovig tied the women’s 10 K course record, the same record that she set at last year’s event. Lovig ran the distance in (36:48) in both 2015 and 2016, down to the second. Alison Gill of Kelowna came in second (41:59) and Camille Galloway, also of Kelowna, finished third (42:33).
The men’s 10 K race was swept by UBC Okanagan’s cross-country team. Sam Goodrich finished first (35:49), followed by teammates Michael Mitchell (36:00) and Alex Hansen (37:36).
The half marathon men’s race was won by Kelowna’s Brad Bickley (1:12:24). Vernon’s Aaron Heidt wasn’t able to defend his title from last year but still came in second with a time of (1:13:17). Cael Wainer came in third (1:25:06).
The female half marathon was won by Kelowna’s Gina Tranquada (1:29:55), followed by Tracy Dayman (1:33:57). Jodi Cochran finished third with a time of (1:34:17).
The half marathon relay event was won by team “Your Pace or Mine?” The five runners covered the 21.1 KM distance in a time of (1:47:58). Team members included: Jennifer Hostland, Lizzy McKinlay, Laura Fylyshtan, Matt Gibson and Teddy Haley.
“There were an awful lot of happy faces on the course today,” said Christine Ulmer, Race Director. “The sun was shining and temperatures were absolutely perfect. On top of that, we had the largest number of volunteers ever for the race this year so it was very well run and things went off without a hitch. We didn’t break any records but judging by the number of people who thanked me at the finish line, it was a huge success.”
The Okanagan College Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay is an annual not-for-profit event that raises funds to support student bursaries. Event sponsors include: Canadian Springs Water, the Kelowna Capital News, Save On Foods, Active Living Chiropractic, Okanagan College Pastry Arts, Starbucks, the Orchard City Amateur Radio Club.
Aid stations were generously operated by enthusiastic volunteers from: Orange Theory Fitness, Spinco, Okanagan College Trades and Apprenticeship, Aviva, The Hot Box Yoga.
Complete race results will be available online: www.okanagan.bc.ca/halfmarathon.