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Okanagan College Media Release
Wes Peterson knows he has a challenging task in front of him.
He has been hired as manager of the recently-announced British Columbia Beverage Technology Access Centre (BCBTAC), which is scheduled to open its doors for service in Penticton this fall.
“The plan for the BCBTAC has been well laid out,” says Peterson, who brings with him experience in owning and operating a successful and growing brewery in Seattle. “The challenge will be in bringing it to life as envisioned, acquiring and setting up the equipment, and developing the processes and policies that will guide the technology access centre.”
The BCBTAC, which will be headquartered in Penticton, is an Okanagan College initiative that is supported by five years of funding, totaling $1.75 million, from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. It is also supported by the College and by industry as well.
Peterson is the centre’s first employee. The BCBTAC’s mission is to provide technical, analytical and business services to small- and medium-sized distilleries, cideries, breweries and wineries, focusing first on the businesses in the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen region. It will draw on expertise resident at Okanagan College and elsewhere to help those businesses grow.
Peterson has significant executive experience, having worked with Expedia in Europe as a vice-president, and with Air Canada as Branch Financial Officer. Since 2011 he has co-owned Odin Brewing Company in Seattle. Peterson was educated as a Cytogenetics Technologist at BCIT, has a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from UBC, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Calgary in Finance and New Venture Development.
“Wes’ management experience with customer-focused enterprises, his background as a technologist, and his approach and leadership with a successful craft brewery in an intensely competitive environment commended him for this role,” explains Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President Education.
The BCBTAC is the second technology access centre in British Columbia. The other is in Victoria, at Camosun College. The network of technology access centres across Canada is funded by the federal government, and are focused on addressing the applied research and innovation needs of local companies.
When Okanagan College’s successful application for a TAC was announced in June, there were 19 craft cideries, 219 wineries, 16 craft distilleries and 24 craft breweries within the College’s catchment area, which stretches from Revelstoke to the U.S. border.
For more information on BCBTAC, visit www.bcbtac.ca.
A plane representing a lifelong passion for flying from one of Vernon’s most successful entrepreneurs will find new wings as a training tool at Okanagan College.
Robert Foord along with family members, donated Tom Foord’s plane to the College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) program during a small ceremony at its Vernon Aerospace campus today.
Tom was the co-founder of Kal Tire, which grew from a small tire shop in Vernon to an international business.
“My dad loved flying and he loved this community,” says Robert, Kal Tire President and one of Tom’s five children.
“He also put enormous value on education and hands-on training and would be proud that his plane has been donated to the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer students for that very purpose.”
The keys to the Cessna 210G – Centurion plane were turned over to Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman.
Hamilton thanked the Foord family and explained how the aircraft will provide new training opportunities while inspiring students.
“We know how important hands-on training is for students to solidify their learning and this plane will provide that. This Cessna also demonstrates to our students that the community supports their education. Tom Foord exemplified hard work, determination and community spirit. We hope his legacy of reaching for the sky inspires students,” says Hamilton.
“I want to express Okanagan College’s sincere gratitude to the Foord family for their continued support of trades training in the North Okanagan.”
In addition to the plane, Kal Tire donated $250,000 to Okanagan College’s Trades Training Centre in Vernon, which opened one year ago.
A decal in memory of Tom was placed on the plane and a plaque sharing his story will be on display in the training hangar.
Okanagan College Media Release
New bursaries established by BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) will provide nearly a full scholarship for aspiring Health Care Assistants (HCA) at Okanagan College.
The non-profit that represents non-government operators of long-term care, assisted living and independent home care and support, is allotting $25,000 this year to set up eight student awards at the College valued at $3,125 each. The awards almost completely pay the tuition for the 6-month HCA Certificate program, which costs $3,300.
"Health-care assistants play a significant role in our health system by providing day-to-day care to seniors and people with disabilities," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
“These positions are in demand throughout the province and these bursaries will provide people with an opportunity to enter into a rewarding career that makes a real difference in peoples’ everyday lives."
In total, BCCPA is committing $100,000 to bursaries at post-secondary institutions across the province over the next three years.
The Okanagan College bursaries will give preference to Aboriginal students and anyone with past experience working or volunteering in health care.
“We want to attract more people to meaningful careers in seniors care,” says Aly Devji, BCCPA board chair.
“These bursaries will make it possible for anyone, regardless of financial ability, to become an HCA. We’re excited to be able to launch more people into rewarding careers working with seniors.”
The $25,000 gift will support Okanagan College’s $5-million fundraising campaign for a new Health Sciences Centre on its Kelowna campus. In addition to raising funds for the modern Centre, the fundraising campaign aims to create new student awards to encourage more people to enter high-demand health care careers.
BCCPA is deeply aware of the staffing shortages for health care professionals in the province, and especially the Okanagan. In 2018, BCCPA released a paper highlighting the issue called “The Perfect Storm: A Health Human Resource Crisis in Seniors Care.”
The paper outlines how an aging workforce, low-recruitment rates, high incidence of worker burnout and injury, funding challenges, and the increasing acuity level of seniors in care, are all factors that have contributed to create a perfect storm.
The report also recommends a number of solutions to address the issue, including attracting a younger generation of workers by providing tuition relief and bursaries for students.
“We’re very grateful to BC Care Providers for providing such significant support for students,” says Yvonne Moritz, Okanagan College Dean of Science, Technology and Health.
"Many mature students and single parents are attracted to the HCA program because of its short duration and the good paying jobs available, but for many, the cost of the program is a barrier. These awards will provide a significant stepping stone into a gratifying career.”
Teresa Wyman (right) knows first-hand the importance of awards for HCA students. Wyman, 51, was working at Superstore for 20 years when she decided to follow her passion for caregiving and enrol in the HCA program at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.
Wyman took out student loans to pay for her tuition and received several student awards that helped her pay for the costs of the education. She says the new awards will go a long way in helping attract more students.
“I think it’s a great idea as there is a need among students in the program,” says Wyman, who adds she feels grateful to be following her dream.
“I go home on the weekend and can’t wait to go back to school on Monday. When I graduate I get to go out and help people, which is so nice.”
A fresh addition to Okanagan College’s inventory of summer camps is cultivating wood-be carpenters among girls aged nine to 12.
Carpentry Projects for Girls is a camp that offers girls a chance to be creative in the woodworking shop at the College’s Kelowna campus, and gives them an introduction to trades.
“I was in the go-kart camp a couple of weeks ago, and on the last day of camp, I told my parents I wanted to come back,” says Malaika Dutta, a nine-year-old participant. “I really liked the idea of learning how to build things. I’ve never made anything like this before, but now I’m starting to think about things that I can make at home.”
The camp is led by Red Seal endorsed trades instructors, and Women in Trades Training (WITT) mentors have been stopping in to lend a helping hand.
“It’s fantastic to have the girls in here this young,” says Mary-Jaye Salmon, Red Seal Endorsed Carpenter and WITT mentor of 11 years. “They’re smart and in tune with health and safety. It’s great to show them the possibilities they have for their future. Maybe they won’t end up making a career choice of trades, but it definitely shows them that they can, and maybe sparks another interest of theirs that they will go on to pursue.”
This week, the girls have been building a number of small pieces including bird-shaped doorstops and planters, and will work together building oversized, outdoor games such as Jenga, dice, and corn hole.
“This camp is a great addition to CampOC,” says OC President Jim Hamilton. “Our WITT program does a tremendous job of providing opportunities for women to pursue a successful career in the trades, and this camp allows us to introduce these same possibilities to the next generation.”
This pilot project was funded by the Government of Canada's Union Training and Innovation Program – Women in Construction Fund, delivered through Industry Training Authority (ITA).
“This camp puts the tools in girls’ hands, letting them be creative in a fun, safe, and educational setting,” says Shelley Gray, CEO of ITA. “They are able to explore their own skills and hopefully find their passion in the skilled trades.”
As the camp came to a close today, parents, ITA and OC staff joined the girls for a barbeque and an afternoon of playing the games they built.
With camps spanning from Revelstoke to the South Okanagan, CampOC offers a variety of camps each summer for students in Grades 2-12.
For more information on CampOC, visit campoc.ca.
More information about the College’s Women in Trades Training program is available at okanagan.bc.ca/witt.
A formal partnership between UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College has established a Green Construction Research and Training Centre (GCRTC) that will provide new research options and create hands-on practical training opportunities for students.
Professor Shahria Alam, with UBCO’s School of Engineering, has been appointed the first director of UBC’s newest research and training centre. Ashley Lubyk from Okanagan College’s Sustainable Construction Management Technology program has been appointed as the co-director for the centre.
“Our goal is to create a hub where innovation in green construction is fostered,” explains Alam. “We are already starting to develop shared capstone projects for our students and establishing a speaker series that focuses on green construction and smart energy use.”
The GCRTC will generate and expand knowledge in the areas of green (environment-friendly) construction—including materials, structural components and systems, and construction management. The objectives are to create civil infrastructure that is safe, durable, energy-efficient and affordable through innovative technologies, he explains. Industry collaborations are already underway with anticipated spin-off companies creating a community that supports self-sustainability and local economic development.
“This centre ties in extremely well with our institutional focus on sustainability,” notes Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s vice-president, education. “We are looking forward to furthering our collaboration with professor Alam, his colleagues and UBC Okanagan to advance the green building agenda.”
Alam’s research focuses on smart materials and their structural applications in infrastructure including seismic rehabilitation of structures and performance-based design. He is the chair of the Engineering Mechanics and Materials Division of Canadian Society of Civil Engineering and an associate editor of the Journal Bridge Engineering.
With more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, Alam stresses the importance of continuing to grow this sector in the Okanagan and its potential for a national and global impact.
“This joint initiative with Okanagan College will equip our students and researchers with the tools necessary to continue to innovate in the areas of green construction with a focus on sustainability,” he adds.
In collaboration with various municipalities, provincial bodies, Infrastructure Canada, construction associations and a large team of faculty members (from a range of disciplines including structural engineering, materials science, robotics, mechanical and electrical engineering, management, environmental science, economics and sociology), the centre will seek to develop transformative, paradigm-changing research that will be strategically vital to the construction industry.
School of Engineering Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq says the centre is well-positioned to address the needs of the construction industry.
“Bringing together the expertise of our research faculty along with our colleagues from Okanagan College, we are confident that the centre will have a long-lasting positive impact into the future,” he adds.
Both UBC and Okanagan College have existing trades and technology programs and projects related to design and construction of future buildings. According to Alam, the Green Construction Research & Training Centre will find synergies between the two institutions wherever possible.
“Sharing ideas and expertise will be at the forefront of our success moving forward,” says Alam.
The centre has already launched a speaker series. More information can be found at: ok-gcrtc.sites.olt.ubc.ca
These interesting landforms include Giant’s Head Mountain, just a stone’s throw from Penticton in the nearby town of Summerland. Now an extinct volcano, this hike and the accompanying view were a part of this morning’s field trip outing.
A visit to the cliffs that sit beneath the well-known Penticton sign is part of the itinerary too, along with a drive to the Naramata Bench and Skaha Lake to explore various types of rock and glacial sediments.
However, the most intriguing geoscience element that attracted attendees to the conference is in the wine that the region is so famous for. The local terroir is a focus of the conference, with a feature keynote held yesterday on the relationship between wine, geology and the soils of the sprawling vineyards of the south Okanagan.
“Wineries take the idea of terroir very seriously. It is a key consideration that most producers take into account when choosing a vineyard site,” says Redding.
While the conference kicked off Tuesday, it continues through until tomorrow. Held on campus to start, attendees had the opportunity to present research, teaching techniques, as well as undergraduate findings. The two days following include site visits mentioned previously as well as other outings, including a highly anticipated visit to a winery or two.
All of the field trip sites are within a short distance of the Penticton campus, and are locations that provide research and learning opportunities for Okanagan College students. As instructor of first- and second-year Physical Geography, Weather, Climate and Environmental Sciences courses, Redding takes his students on field trips regularly, noting the high value in learning about processes in the field.
Eric Corneau, Regional Dean for South Okanagan-Similkameen adds that “the NAGT conference coming to Penticton is a great opportunity for both our instructors and students to learn from and collaborate with world-class geoscientists.”
“The Okanagan region has a naturally convincing pull, and we hope that by hosting this conference, we’re able to share more about diverse geography and the work our Geography, Earth & Environmental Science department is doing in the field of education and research.”
While Redding’s classes are out for the summer, he still has two students volunteering at the conference. The sessions and field trips are educational and social at the same time – an opportunity for people to meet, learn and glean from each other. Attendees will be permitted to take photos and collect rocks at certain sites, taking them back to their respective institutions for case studies and examples for classroom teaching.
For more conference information, visit https://nagt2019penticton.weebly.com/ or contact Todd Redding at email@example.com.
Okanagan College Media Release
After a motor vehicle accident that left her paralyzed and with no memory of who she was, Kate Camire was told that she would never fully recover.
Fast forward 12 years to today where Camire will walk across the stage at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus after successfully completing her Medical Office Assistant certificate.
“I had a traumatic brain injury and was paralyzed on my right side,” explains Camire. “I had to relearn my name, how to read, how to spell, how to walk. After two years, I hadn’t improved much and the doctors said it was unlikely that I would make much more progress.”
But with determination, Camire relearned the skills she had lost, and worked hard to improve her memory.
“I graduated from high school that same year and went on to teach parent-tot and preschool gymnastics,” adds Camire. “I was walking with a cane at the time, but was able to get around and run if I needed to. After that, I decided I just needed to keep going and that I needed to do something with my life.”
Camire started taking first aid courses and coaching at Douglas College before eventually enrolling in OC’s Medical Office Assistant program (MOA).
“The same day I applied to the College, I had to go in and do a typing test before the program started that evening,” says Camire. “I live in Sorrento, my typing test was in Salmon Arm and my first class was at the Vernon campus,” she adds, laughing.
MOA is a 254-hour program that prepares students for employment in reception, clerical, or assisting positions in hospitals and medical offices. The program involves a lot of memorizing, as students learn medical terminology – another challenge that Camire was able to overcome.
“Medical terminology actually became one of my favourite courses,” says Camire. “Our instructor, Mag, was so great. There was always a lot of laughing in the class which made it a fun learning experience.”
“It was a pleasure having Kate in my class,” says Margaret Evans, Continuing Studies Instructor. “Kate has overcome tremendous obstacles. She has such a drive for success and a willingness to help her classmates. I am happy to have had the chance to get to know her.”
Today, Camire celebrates, along with 133 other Vernon students, the end of her program, another hurdle she was able to overcome.
“Today means so much to me. It means I pulled off another success I didn’t think I could. I am absolutely thrilled,” says Camire. “I’ve applied to Interior Health in Kamloops and I hope to be working in a regular clinic soon.”
As the graduates receive their credentials, they will also be addressed by Okanagan College President, Jim Hamilton.
“Regardless of their path, the graduates have one thing in common: they arrived at OC with aspirations about their future,” says Hamilton. “Now, as they cross the stage, we get a glimpse into the future of our society. These are the people that will transform the communities around us.”
By the end of this week, Okanagan College will have sent over 2,000 graduates into the working world this academic year.
The Vernon Convocation starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Vernon campus. Those who cannot make the ceremony can watch the graduands receive their credentials on OC’s Facebook live stream.
Civil Engineering Technology graduate Keyvan Khadem has found that Okanagan College is helping him build the career and future that he’s seeking.
Khadem is one of more than 600 students who will be acknowledged at OC Convocation ceremonies this weekend.
He originally moved to Vancouver from Iran to pursue a career in medicine. After exploring that career path, he realized it wasn’t quite the right fit and decided to pursue his other passion, construction.
“I’ve always really enjoyed construction, and decided to start my own company,” says Khadem. “I knew I would be more respected in this field if I gained more knowledge in it, so I decided to enrol at Okanagan College. I love the lifestyle here so much that I’ve decided to move my company here.”
Khadem owns a construction and development company, Bosso Developments Ltd., that’s currently located in Vancouver and specializes in residential development.
This Saturday at the Kelowna campus, Khadem will graduate with distinction from OC’s Civil Engineering Technology Diploma program at the Spring Convocation. He is among students graduating from academic and vocational programs receiving certificates, diplomas, associate degrees and bachelor degrees.
An exemplary student, Khadem was selected as the student speaker to address the 2019 graduating class as they embark on their future endeavours.
“There’s so much happening around us in this chaotic world that the news portrays to us,” says Khadem. “It can be scary. You feel hopeless and wonder what you can do. The set of skills we learn at this institution are what will help us be better people. Institutions like this help shape the people who will assist in environmental issues, the people who will go into politics, and help the people who will help build your dream house.”
The journey to graduation can be different for each student. Khadem notes that it’s not always an easy one, and advises his peers to never lose sight of their goals.
“Being a student is hard work,” says Khadem. “There are so many different pressures that people experience whether it’s financial, or the stresses of having a family. The most important thing that I want to say to my peers is to not lose hope…hope for the future, hope for yourself.”
After completing his two-year diploma program at OC, Khadem has now chosen to bridge his education into a four-year degree and will attend the University of British Columbia Okanagan for Civil Engineering. (OC offers a bridging program specifically focused on allowing people to move from the diploma program into the UBC degree program.)
“I’m not the same person that I was two years ago,” says Khadem. “OC shaped me into a better version of myself. The way I speak, the way I carry myself, the way I present myself to people, and to my industry…I’m just so grateful for this experience.”
Saturday’s ceremonies mark the fourth and fifth of eight convocation ceremonies that the College will host this year. The ceremony is split into two celebrations. The first begins at 10:30 a.m. and will honour students from arts, health, technologies, science and computer science programs. The afternoon ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. and will recognize students from the Okanagan College School of Business.
Students attending the morning ceremony will hear from Robert Louie, who will formally be announced as one of OC’s 2019 Honorary Fellows. After being recognized with the Distinguished Service Award at the afternoon ceremony, retired Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business, Dr. Heather Banham, will address the next wave of business leaders.
“My advice to the 2019 graduands is to see the value and importance in lifelong learning,” says OC’s President Jim Hamilton. “If they keep learning and keep applying what they’ve learned, they’ll transform their own lives and the communities around them.”
Both of the ceremonies on Saturday will be livestreamed on the College’s Facebook page and viewers can tune in from across Canada. If you don’t have the opportunity to attend, be sure to follow along on our Facebook page.
For more information on convocation and upcoming ceremonies, visit okanagan.bc.ca/convocation.