Dec 10, 2013 / 2:02 pm
As articles about Canada’s shortage of skilled workers continue to dominate the headlines, the timing couldn’t be better for Okanagan College to announce its newest Dean, Steve Moores, an experienced post-secondary education administrator who will join the College in January to lead Trades and Apprenticeship.
Moores has spent nearly three decades working in education, including 23 years at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), where he held a range of instructional and administrative positions.
Moores began his tenure at NAIT as an instructor in the mechanical trades before becoming Program Chair of the Machinist program. He went on to work on special projects for NAIT, including curriculum and program development, both domestically and internationally and eventually was appointed Associate Dean of the School of Trades.
He holds a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from San Diego State University, a Bachelor’s degree in Vocational Education from the University of Alberta, and is certified as a Red Seal Machinist Journeyperson.
Moores’ most recent experience took him to Saudi Arabia, where was hired in the role of Dean at Jazan Economic City Polytechnic and was responsible for Vocational Development.
“We are fortunate to have attracted a professional of Steve’s calibre,” said Dr. Andrew Hay, Vice President Education. “His experience and qualifications combined with his vision for the future of Trades training are going to make him a huge asset to our College and community. He is coming to us at a time when we have great opportunities to deliver innovative and practical solutions to meet the needs of our region, province and country.”
In addition to his experience in post-secondary education, Moores has worked as an international consultant, has developed customized training programs and has specialized expertise in the area of oil and gas.
“Okanagan College has an excellent reputation as a progressive leader in post-secondary education and training and I am really looking forward to joining the staff,” said Moores. “I am excited to contribute to the College’s agenda, specifically along the lines of working with industry, First Nations and the ITA to promote the future of trades training to meet the needs of this region and beyond.”
Moores’ experience and background will be of great value as the College moves ahead on the construction of the Trades Training Complex in Kelowna, a $33-million project that includes a renovation and expansion of its current Trades facilities in Kelowna. The project is currently underway with the bulk of new construction to begin next year – the project is on target to be complete by the spring of 2016.
Moores’ first day as Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship will be Jan. 6, 2014.
Dec 9, 2013 / 12:00 am
UBC assistant professor a role model for visible minorities
Assistant Professor of Anthropology Hugo De Burgos has been named one of Canada’s 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians. Chris Alexander, minster of immigration, and Ian Troop, CEO of Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games presented the awards at a ceremony in Toronto recently.
“I am honoured and humbled to receive this award,” says De Burgos, who is a multi-award winning international researcher and scholar. “To be recognized by members of my own culture and language is a moving experience.”
De Burgos came to Canada from El Salvador alone, as a teenager. The young immigrant found inspiration in Chilean professors at the University of Alberta, where he later received his PhD.
De Burgos is happy that he can be an inspiration for young Hispanics in Canada. He is an anthropologist, filmmaker, activist and assistant professor with the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
“Through my work, I try to be a role model for visible minorities,” he says. “This award makes role models concrete. It shows young people that we are not ‘out there’ we are ‘here’ and making a difference in mainstream Canadian society.”
Since 2007, 70 Hispanics from eight provinces and 15 countries of origin have been selected as Most Influential Hispanics in Canada by media and business executives and academic leaders. The awards, organized by the Canadian Hispanic Business Alliance, recognize Hispanic Canadians who are making a positive impact on Canadian society.
Dec 6, 2013 / 1:33 pm
More than 72 eggs, 28 sticks of butter, 35 cups of sugar, and a lot of elbow grease, went into the 3,000 cookies whipped up by Okanagan College Culinary Arts students and instructors this week. The tasty treats are going into hundreds of holiday stockings for kids attending a special charity performance of The Nutcracker at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m.
Every year, the Canadian School of Ballet and Ballet Kelowna hosts the Making Memories event exclusively for 856 area youth and families, who would not normally have the opportunity to attend the performance. At the end of the program, each child will receive a holiday stocking brimming with toys and goodies, including the cookies donated by Okanagan College.
“It’s great to see our students and instructors take the time to give back to members of our community,” said Jonathan Rouse, Director of Wine, Food, and Tourism at Okanagan College. “It’s a small gesture that will have a big impact on a lot of children this season and is a great example of how our students take their education and training outside of the classroom.”
“Good food also makes good memories,” says Culinary Arts Chef instructor Perry Bentley. “So does working with volunteers and having a fun time on a great project like this one."
The College’s Culinary Arts department partnered with the Junior Chapter of the Okanagan Chefs Association, Okanagan Grocery and Sysco for the campaign.
“This is the first theatre visit for many of these kids and, for some, the stocking will be their only gift this year,” says Debbie MacMillan, Making Memories organizing committee member.
By working with local organizations such as The Bridge Youth and Family Services, Okanagan Boys & Girls Clubs, Cops for Kids and Families in Touch, Making Memories ensures that children and families with diverse abilities and economic backgrounds will have the opportunity to experience the magic of ballet.
In addition to baking, Okanagan College students and instructors will also be at the event to distribute the stockings.
Dec 6, 2013 / 11:55 am
Mary Bevan, an Okanagan College Kelowna campus student, is the grand prize winner of the fourth annual 3-hour Short Story Writing contest. Bevan was awarded a $500 Okanagan College tuition credit and a published chapbook of her winning story, “The Use in Usefulness.”
“I was surprised and overwhelmed by the win because I knew I was competing with fellow students whose writing I really admire,” said Bevan, 18, a first-year student in the College’s Writing and Publishing diploma program.
The contest took place on Saturday, Nov. 16 on all four Okanagan College campuses (Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm). Participants had three hours to write an original piece of literary fiction that incorporated the phrase “burning fields,” which was revealed at the beginning of the contest.
“I really enjoyed the format of this contest,” said Bevan. “The surprise phrase and the 3-hour time limit meant no one was more prepared than anyone else. I was forced to be more creative. We were all starting with a blank sheet. I sat for the longest time and then slowly started piecing the story together from elements of real life experience and my imagination.
“I liked the blind judging aspect. It means it’s unbiased. People who don’t know me, or don’t know I wrote this story selected it to win. They genuinely liked what I wrote. It’s so much more rewarding.”
Okanagan College English professor and contest judge Jeremy Beaulne, said, “There were a number of strong entries in this year’s contest. As always, selecting the overall winner was a challenge.
“Mary’s story distinguished itself with its vivid portrayal of a young farm girl who runs away from home after her father decides that he has to kill their family’s sick livestock. Bevan did a wonderful job of capturing the girl’s sense of horror and confusion as she contemplates the fate of her barnyard friends and questions her own role on the farm.”
Contest organizer and Okanagan College English professor Sean Johnston said, “It’s an energizing experience for everyone in the English department who participates, and an invigorating and challenging afternoon for the contestants. This year we had about 65 people register, with the largest group writing in Kelowna.”
Regional winners were declared for each campus and awarded a $250 tuition credit. Amelia Moore, a Salmon Arm Secondary student won for “The Silent Road Trip,” Carley Dolman, an Okanagan College Vernon campus student, for “Kella the Seer,” and Gwyneth Meghan Steele, Okanagan College Penticton campus student, for “Sunlit Memories.”
All the winning stories can be read at: www.okanagan.bc.ca/3hourwriting.
Dec 6, 2013 / 11:51 am
Okanagan College English professor Jeremy Lanaway’s short story “Downturn” has been nominated by The Fiddlehead literary journal for the Journey Prize long list. The $10,000 prize is awarded annually to an emerging Canadian writer for a short story or excerpt from a fiction work-in-progress by the Writers’ Trust of Canada and McClelland & Stewart.
“’Downturn’ relates an encounter between a banker and a pool-cleaner,” said Lanaway. “It’s an exploration of the broad idea of the personal challenges economic downturns can create for people, and how life circumstances can quickly change through events that are completely out of our control.
“It’s an imagining of going from being comfortable to being in need because of external occurrences—a topic that was on my mind because of world events.”
Lanaway grew up in Vernon and attended Okanagan College for two years before moving to Vancouver to complete his studies, including a Master’s degree in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. He taught in Hong Kong, and still works for Pearson Education (Hong Kong) as a senior editor and writer of high school level English textbooks.
Happy to return to the Okanagan, Lanaway has been teaching English literature at Okanagan College since 2010. He has also instructed courses in creative non-fiction and editing for the College’s Writing and Publishing diploma program.
“The College has proved a great environment for me as an author,” said Lanaway. “Many of my colleagues are also active writers. It’s a supportive, encouraging and inspirational atmosphere.”
Lanaway’s writing covers a diversity of genres and topics. He is currently working on a collection of short stories, but also finds the time to pen editorial copy as the hockey writer for “The American,” an established arts and culture magazine catering to the expatriate community in the UK. In addition, he is marketing a completed novel that has received good feedback, and has another novel in the works.
“Downturn” appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of The Fiddlehead, Canada’s oldest extant literary journal. Published in New Brunswick, the journal is best-known for being the first to publish many of Canada’s most famous writers and editors.
Dec 3, 2013 / 3:57 pm
To promote skilled trades training as a first choice for secondary students, Okanagan College is partnering with Discover Trades BC to host a Valley-wide conference for parents, school counselors and teachers at the Kelowna campus on Friday, Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Parents play a major role in the career path children choose,” says David Kalaski, Coordinator Career Programs, SD67 Okanagan Skaha.
In fact, a 2011 Angus Reid Public Opinion survey of more than 1,500 children ages 7 to 18 found 82 per cent of Canadian youth turned to their parents for guidance on making decisions about their education and careers.
“The conversation between parents and their kids has traditionally been about university being the first choice for post-secondary education,” says Kalaski. “But that line of thought is flawed and partially the reason we have a skills shortage in British Columbia.”
“Educating parents about where the jobs will be when students graduate from post-secondary is a good place to start,” he says.
So too will be providing parents with a better understanding of what is involved in training for a skilled trade.
To that end, Okanagan College is opening its doors and inviting parents to attend the Discover Trades BC Parent/Teacher Conference on Friday, Dec. 6.
“During the day, we’ll raise awareness about how skilled tradespeople affect our daily lives, break the myths associated with trades careers, and highlight the diversity of opportunities within the trades,” says Dianne Holm of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College.
Parents will even have the opportunity to participate in real projects, such as building walls, trouble shooting car engines, and using trades training simulators.
“The emphasis is on how we—industry, parents and educators—can work together to provide our children and students with the right tools, understanding, assistance and opportunities to learn how trades can provide them with fulfilling and productive careers,” says Holm.
Discover Trades BC is a consortium of 14 public post-secondary educational institutions created to promote trades training in British Columbia.
Contact Dianne Holm at 250-862-5457 or via email at [email protected] to register or get more information about the Discover Trades BC Parent/Teacher Conference.
Dec 3, 2013 / 12:35 pm
Okanagan College is the first B.C. College to respond to industry needs by offering a revised Heavy Mechanical Trades program developed to train students in four separate trades in high demand.
“We have been providing training in Heavy Duty Equipment and Commercial Transport Mechanics for five decades,” said Randy Werger, Associate Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “Heavy Duty was one of our first programs and a lot has changed in 50 years. We have constantly adapted the curriculum to meet industry demands.
“Our program used to cover training in two distinct areas – heavy duty and commercial transport mechanics - we’ve kept those components because they are still extremely valuable and relevant but we’ve added two new elements: diesel engine mechanic and transport trailer technician, which will give students a much broader range of skills and ultimately make them more knowledgeable and employable.”
Three of the four training streams in the 38-week entry-level program lead to Red Seal certification, with the exception of diesel engine mechanic. Students who complete the program receive an Okanagan College certificate, Level 1 technical training credits, and 450 work-based training hours towards one of the four trades from the ITA.
“What is most exciting is that both graduates and employers are going to benefit,” said Werger. “Industry gets more versatile employees with broader skill sets, and graduates can take advantage of flexible further education options and enhanced work opportunities. Everybody wins.”
“Many graduates go up north in search of jobs,” said Cam McRobb, Chair of the Motor Vehicle Department. “But increasingly they will be able to find work locally if they choose. Trades related to oil, gas, and mining are in demand, and this program provides local industry with needed technicians to service equipment for those sectors.”
Heavy Mechanical Trades students will be the first group to benefit from the $33-million Trades Training Complex project, which is underway at the Kelowna campus. Phase one of the project – the renovation and expansion of the Heavy Mechanical Trades shop - was completed in the summer of 2013. The freshly-finished shop and 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space is covered by a canopy housing one of Western Canada’s largest arrays of photovoltaic solar panels. Improvements include a bridge crane and a range of newly-acquired equipment.
“Now we have the full package to meet the training needs for our students as they start their careers: great facilities, a large fleet of current equipment and most importantly great instructors,” said Werger.
When completed, the $33-million trades facility - which includes both a large expansion and renovation of existing space - will serve 2,400 students and apprentices annually and feature approximately 10,600 square-metres of shops and classrooms. The Heavy Mechanical Trades program will reside in a fully renovated 560 square-metre shop.
The 38-week Heavy Mechanical Trades program, which includes a two-week work term, has three annual intakes, with students admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. The next program intake starts on Feb. 3, 2014.
For more information on the program, contact the Okanagan College Trades and Apprenticeship office at 250-862-5457 or toll-free: 1-877-755-2266.
Dec 3, 2013 / 12:00 am
PhD candidate Christina Turi examines medicinal potential of BC’s native plants
Christina Turi works like a detective – the clues she follows uncover mysteries of the plant world. In the bright, gleaming science labs at UBC's Okanagan campus, Turi interprets the realm of plant signaling and behaviour, a branch of botanic investigation that examines how plants respond to their environment under changing conditions.
"Plants are very complicated," says Turi, a PhD candidate in biology with UBC’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. "They possess a chemical arsenal made up of secondary metabolites which are synthesized in response to the surrounding environment. While some of these metabolites have been exploited by humans for medicine, we’ve only scratched the surface.”
Plants signal and behave in ways to share food, repel enemies, time their growth behavior to the seasons, decide when and whether to colonize other species and otherwise adapt to life.
Turi studies the potential of medicinal plants – an area of interest springing from the days her European grandmother planted herbal remedies in her garden. She is currently researching the chemical complexity of two plants common to British Columbia -- Ligusticum canbyi, typically known as Canby's Lovage and Artemisia tridentata, or Sagebrush.
"Both species have a long history of medicinal use in British Columbia. But they have not been fully studied," says Turi.
That, in large part, is due to the complicated structure of vegetation – for instance, a plant leaf can contain upwards of 30,000 separate compounds. Scientists understand about 1,100 of those in terms of what they do for the plant and how they interact. The remainder have been catalogued, yet their specific roles and how they work together within a plant's physiology are undiscovered territory.
"Our knowledge is very limited, as these compounds are often unstable or lost in processing," says Turi. To get a better picture, she arms herself with plant extracts, feeds the samples into a mass spectrometer and analyzes the results. Typically what spits out are reams of spreadsheets containing tens of thousands of figures, graphs and code language.
This metabolic data provides a snapshot of the chemicals present in the sample. Employing algorithms and processes to understand biological activity, chemical structures and plant signaling, Turi mines the data to discover new compounds.
Ultimately, she hopes to unlock the natural medicinal values of plants using statistics and rationale deduction to find patterns and connections.
Upon graduation, Turi hopes to further pursue work with medicinal plants with an academic posting. She credits her supervisor Susan Murch, Canada Research Chair in Natural Products Chemistry, for sparking her work and encouraging her to follow it.
"She is truly a multidisciplinary researcher, who does not just teach you the science. She teaches you to look at the world from a different perspective and appreciation."
Turi’s thesis is tentatively titled "The Novel Use of Metabolomics as a Hypothesis Generating Technique for Untargeted Phytochemical Analysis of Ligusticum canbyi Coult & Rose and Artemisia tridentata Nutt."
Nov 29, 2013 / 4:11 pm
Reigning champions Nelson and Hudson Schier successfully defended their title in the dance competition at the 8th annual Western Canada RoboCup Junior today at Okanagan College. In addition, they also won an award for Best Innovative Design.
The Vernon brothers were just two of more than 200 elementary and secondary students from across the Okanagan Valley who competed at this year’s event.
This is the sixth time the Schiers have won the dance portion of RoboCup Junior. The winners of each category—dance, soccer and rescue—have the opportunity to go on to compete in the international competition in Brazil in July.
“We’re always excited to compete at RoboCup and are happy we won,” says Hudson Schier. “We couldn’t go to the international competition last year, but we plan to go this year and will be adding way more features to the Octopus robot in preparation.”
“The creations were exceptional,” says Nadir Ould-Khessal, event organizer and Chair of the Electronic Engineering department at Okanagan College.
Winners came from a variety of schools and communities from the Okanagan and beyond and trophies were handed out to teams from Salmon Arm, Vernon, West Kelowna, Kelowna and Vancouver.
Each winning team received a TELUS Award, comprised of an electronics kit that can be used to build other fun projects while at the same time teaching the students more about electronics and robotics.
TELUS is a major sponsor of the event; other longtime sponsors include ASTTBC (Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC), Tekmar Control Systems, and Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corp.
While all students and their robots performed brilliantly, the top 2013 results from all categories are as follows:
Dance Challenge – Primary Category
First Place: “Feel the Groove” Dorothea Walker (Kelowna)
Team members: Courtney Fornasero, Jayden Clare, Lauren Jonker, Taya Ito
Second Place: “Potion Masters” Constable Neil Bruce (West Kelowna)
Team members: Christine Semeniuk, Jocelyn Podolsky
Third Place: “Robo Rocket” Constable Neil Bruce (West Kelowna)
Team members: Katrina Billinton, Tessa Espino
Dance Challenge – Secondary Category
First Place: “Robo Bros” Clarence Fulton and Vernon Secondary (Vernon)
Team members: Hudson Shier, Nelson Shier
Second Place: “Queens of Rock” Constable Neil Bruce (West Kelowna)
Team members: Emma Horbay, Jane Newall, Melissa Jewsbury
Rescue Challenge – Primary Category
First Place: “Team One” King’s Christian School (Salmon Arm)
Team members: Daniel Roodzant, Jenessa Zappone
Second Place: “WDKWWADBWTA” Constable Neil Bruce (West Kelowna)
Team members: Harrison Larson, Joel Semeniuk, Naved Wasti
Third Place: “Rescuers Return” CPS Online School
Team members: Adam White, Patwin McSorley
Rescue Challenge – Secondary Category
First Place: “Building in Motion” Constable Neil Bruce (West Kelowna)
Team members: Gavin Newall, Kyle Billinton
Second Place: “Robahkiin” Aberdeen Hall (Kelowna)
Team members: Justin McHale, Marcus Kemp
Third Place: “Creators” Constable Neil Bruce (West Kelowna)
Team members: Danielle Long, Georgia Gibbings
Soccer Challenge – Primary Category
First Place: “Dream Team” CPS Online School
Team members: Cameron McConnechy, Matthew Yong
Second Place: “Storm” CPS Online School
Team members: Daria Loewen, Hannah Hinter
Third Place: “Joebotics” St. Joseph Elementary (Kelowna)
Team members: Cooper Clarkson, Jared Gravelle-Prince, Joel Hrasko
Soccer Challenge – Secondary Category
First Place: “Sager Soccer” Sager Education (Vancouver)
Team members: Brian Geze Zhuang, Jeff Zizheng Ma, Mike Yuhao Zhai
Second Place: “Robo Knights 1” Kelowna Christian School
Team members: Devon Bourgeois
Third Place: “Robo Knights 2” Kelowna Christian School
Team members: Philip Mazur
Nov 29, 2013 / 10:36 am
An Autism Spectrum diagnosis can be paralyzing for parents, but the Autism Spectrum Certificate at Okanagan College can help them fill the knowledge gap and move forward.
“After her diagnosis, I was overwhelmed with what to do first. I knew what she needed, but not where to go to get that help,” says Jaimee Therrien, a mother of four, who has a 14-year-old daughter with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“In my experience, you need at least 80 hours of education to really understand what it is your child needs over the long term and how to successfully navigate that process,” says Joanne Poole, one of Okanagan College’s Autism Spectrum Certificate instructors and mother of 20-year-old son on the autism spectrum.
Providing that critical piece of education to parents and caregivers alike, Okanagan College offers the Autism Spectrum Certificate, a three-month, part-time course at all Okanagan College campuses with new intakes in Vernon and Penticton starting in January 2014.
The certificate provides students with an in-depth understanding of what ASD is, how it affects brain function and how those differences in brain function create behaviour, learning and language problems. Not only will students master teaching and learning techniques, they will get the tools and resources to support children and adults both in school and in the community. Knowledge about how to transition older children into self-sufficiency and employment will also be acquired.
Students of this program typically include people who work with individuals on the autism spectrum such as behaviour interventionists, nurses, teachers, support care workers, and now, more than ever, parents.
“It’s parents who are bearing the brunt of recent cuts to autism intervention funding,” says Poole. “The Autism intervention and support programs do as much as they can with the resources they are provided, but the onus is now on parents to become educated.”
“For someone who is facing a new diagnosis or someone who wants to work with individuals with autism this course is so beneficial because it gives you all the information you need to be an advocate for individuals with autism,” says Therrien.
Equipped with what she learned in the Autism Spectrum Certificate, Therrien became a behavioural interventionist with the Autism Department of the Central Okanagan Child Development Centre. “I am really passionate about working with kids with challenges,” she says. “After taking the certificate, not only was I able to help my own daughter, but now I make a living helping other kids and their families everyday,” she says.
For more information on the Autism Spectrum Certificate, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/ASC. Applications are currently open for programs starting in Vernon and Penticton in January. Contact Lisa Robert at 250-545-7291, ext. 2812, in Vernon and Ingrid Carter at 250-492-4305, ext. 3206, in Penticton for more information.
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