Zach Andrews is adding another medal to a growing collection of accolades after returning from the Skills Canada Competition in Moncton, NB with a gold medal in Electronics.
The 31-year-old qualified for the Canada-wide competition after winning gold for B.C. in April at the provincial challenge in Abbotsford. He was joined by fellow Okanagan College student Aaron Schmidt, who also earned gold at the provincial competition and finished second in the country in Automotive Service.
Making the trip to compete in Moncton meant Andrews had to pass up the opportunity to attend the College’s Convocation ceremony; he completed the two-year Electronic Engineering Technology diploma program in May. However, Andrews had already experienced the satisfaction of graduating from the College when he completed the Electrical program and earned his Red Seal designation in 2009.
“I started the Electrical program at the College in 2005 and worked my way through all of my apprenticeship levels,” explained Andrews. “When I became a journeyperson in 2009, I decided to focus on saving money for more schooling, as I knew I wasn’t done learning. In 2014, after a decade of employment as an electrician, I enrolled in the Electronic Engineering program and have now finished my second credential at Okanagan College.”
When Andrews was asked to consider competing at the provincial Skills BC challenge, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I was pretty surprised to win the competition,” he said. “I thought I had done a good job but it was exciting to learn I was the best in the province.”
Andrews drew on his experience from Skills BC at the national competition but was slightly less confident about the outcome.
“The national competition was much longer and covered all aspects of the technical skills we learn in the program—and if you ask anyone who has taken Electronic Engineering, it is not an easy program. I was shocked at how I was able to draw on concepts and techniques I had learned in first-year. It was incredible, everything from circuit theory and design and fabrication to soldering and programming microcontrollers. I think I was the only person to complete the soldering task and have the circuit fully functional.
“I was completely taken by surprise when I found out I won. I thought the other competitors from across the country were doing really well. I was pleased to win and I think the education I received throughout the program combined with my knowledge as an Electrician really set me up for success. I worked really hard and in this case putting in the work paid off.”
Now that he can consider himself as the most skilled graduate in electronics in the country, you might think Andrews’ next step would be to focus on working. And while he is spending the summer working as an electrician, he hasn’t yet completed all of his educational goals.
Andrews is enrolled in Okanagan College’s Electronic Engineering Technology Bridge to UBC Okanagan Electrical Engineering program, which builds on the two-year diploma program to prepare graduates for entry mid-way into UBC Okanagan’s degree program.
“I know I could get a job today in my field and having credentials in both the electrical trades and technologies sets me apart but I’m focused on continuing my education. I think it’s a good investment and will open a lot of doors in the future.”
A new agreement with Jazz Aviation LP could spell more career opportunities for pilots graduating from Okanagan College’s Commercial Aviation diploma program.
The College’s two-year program, run in concert with flight partners Southern Interior Flight Centre (SIFC), recently celebrated a quarter-century of operation. This month, Jazz and the College signed an agreement that will see OC participate in the Jazz Aviation Pathways Program (APP), which can serve as a fast track for the OC pilots to land flying careers with the national airline. It is among the first aviation schools in Western Canada to participate in the program. Five colleges and universities in Ontario participate as well as Mount Royal University in Alberta.
“We have worked closely with Jazz regarding our program’s curriculum, and expected outcomes for students,” said Dr. Barry McGillivray, Okanagan College’s Acting Dean of Business. “Our program and our graduates have a good reputation in the industry, and this affords them some advantages in terms of advancing their careers.”
Jazz Aviation LP has a strong history in Canadian aviation with its roots going back to the 1930s. Jazz is owned by Chorus Aviation Inc. As the largest regional carrier in Canada, Jazz has a proven track record of industry leadership and exceptional customer service, and has leveraged that strength to deliver value to all its stakeholders.
“Further strengthening our Jazz APP program with the addition of OC, and our first B.C.-based college, is an exciting development,” said Steve Linthwaite, Vice President of Flight Operations at Jazz. “Our goal is to create a strong future for Canadian professional pilots and engaging with academic institutions from coast-to-coast is an important part of delivering on that. We’re very pleased to welcome OC to the Jazz APP and look forward to working together toward these common objectives.”
Okanagan College becoming a Jazz APP institution establishes a direct career path for qualifying graduates; including flight simulator evaluations, student scholarships, and the opportunity for OC’s top-performing Commercial Aviation graduates to transition to first officer positions at Jazz.
In addition to the Jazz APP program, any OC student who passes his or her Intermediate Airline Transport Rating (IATRA) exam can qualify to work for Jazz with 1,000 hours flying time and 250 hours multi-engine flying time. If the student graduates from a non-partner institution, he or she would need 1,500 hours flying time and 500 hours of multi-engine time to qualify.
“That can mean a significant savings and a head-start on a career for a young pilot,” notes SIFC’s Flight School Director Marc Vanderaegen.
As a partner school with Jazz, Okanagan College pilots also find themselves eligible to apply to two Jazz-supplied scholarships: the $3,000 Jazz Aviation Pathway Award for Professionalism and the $3,000 Jazz Aviation Pathway Award for Professionalism and Diversity (open to any student who has self-identified as Aboriginal, a person with a disability, a visible minority or female).
Jazz operates more flights and flies to more Canadian destinations than any other airline, and has a workforce of approximately 4100 professionals, highly experienced in the challenging and complex nature of regional operations.
There are two airline divisions operated by Jazz Aviation LP: Air Canada Express and Jazz.
Air Canada Express: Under a capacity purchase agreement with Air Canada, Jazz provides service to and from lower-density markets as well as higher-density markets at off-peak times throughout North America with a fleet of 113 Canadian-made Bombardier aircraft.
Jazz: Under the Jazz brand, the airline offers charters throughout North America with a dedicated fleet of five Bombardier aircraft for corporate clients, governments, special interest groups and individuals seeking more convenience. Jazz also has the ability to offer airline operators services such as ground handling, dispatching, flight load planning, training and consulting.
Scholarships from Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and friends are inspiring graduating high school students from Penticton and Summerland to make the most of their studies as they step into the classrooms of Okanagan College this fall.
Eight students hailing from three different high schools assembled at the College’s Penticton campus on Thursday, June 16, to receive their entrance scholarships.
“Meeting students and their parents is rewarding for us,” says Yasmin Thorpe. “The parents appreciate the assistance and the students are keen to talk about what they hope to achieve with their studies and their futures.”
“Education opens so many doors,” says Rick Thorpe. “Yasmin and I feel incredibly proud to have been able to make a difference in the lives of students over the years.”
Scholarship recipient Hector Carlos of Penticton Secondary is one of those students reaching for the stars with a little help from the Thorpes.
“I am determined to obtain a degree in Physics and Astronomy,” says Carlos, who plans to complete the Associate of Science Degree program at the College before heading to the University of Victoria to finish his Bachelor of Science. “This scholarship is going to motivate me even more to achieve my goal and will reduce my stress along the way, so I can focus on my learning instead of student debt.”
Born in Mexico, Carlos immigrated to Canada in 2002 and moved the Penticton in 2008.
“I am excited to make my own way in the world; this scholarship is going to help me to transfer my acquired knowledge and skills into a profession that will allow me to lead a productive life.”
Honor Hollman, also a Grade 12 student at Penticton Secondary, is considering a career in education, social work, or nursing; she will take the first step toward that future when she begins the Associate of Arts Degree program at the College in September.
“I am very excited to receive this award,” says Hollman, “and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the future.”
“I really hope to give back to the community through my future career, so I look forward to paying it forward and using this award not only to benefit myself, but to get to a place where I can benefit others one day.”
The Thorpes have a long history of championing education in the region, having supported students at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan for more than a decade.
2016 marked the 10th anniversary of the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Entrance Scholarships for Okanagan College, which were established in 2006. To mark the occasion, the Thorpes awarded 10 $2,500 bursaries.
Since inception, $92,750 has been awarded from the Thorpe’s fund to 43 recipients at Okanagan College.
The Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarship assists students who are graduates of, or will be graduating from, a secondary school located on the west side of Okanagan Lake, from Penticton to Killiney Beach, registering in full?time studies at the College. The award also supports students already enrolled at the College who are continuing their studies. Recipients must be undertaking courses in business, viticulture, agriculture, engineering, tourism/hospitality, trades, technologies, English or creative writing, science, and nursing.
“We are constantly amazed at the generosity of our donors in Penticton,” says Donna Lomas, Regional Dean for the South Okanagan-Similkameen. “The Thorpes have been deeply supportive of the College over the years, including spearheading the fundraising campaign for the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence.
“Awards like these send a message to students that the community and the College are behind them and invested in their futures.”
The application deadline for the 2017 Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarships will be in early March 2017. Students are encouraged to review the application guidelines at www.okanagan.bc.ca/awards or [email protected] for more information.
In addition to looking nice, covering soil with wood mulch can actually help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, UBC research shows.
In a recent study undertaken in Kelowna-area vineyards, UBC Okanagan researchers discovered that using mulch in agriculture can cut nitrous oxide emissions up to 28 per cent.
“In addition to saving water, improving soil, combatting pests and stopping weeds, wood mulch actually reduces the release of a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide,” says Craig Nichol, senior instructor of Earth and Environmental Sciences. “Provided you are not driving great distances to obtain the mulch, it would appear that mulch could be a powerful tool in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly if used in these agricultural systems.”
Nichol’s research was part of a two-year study in which small emissions-recording chambers were placed on top of bare soil as well as soil covered by mulch.
In addition to reduced levels of nitrous oxide emissions, mulched areas also showed a 74 per cent reduction in soil nitrates. The nitrates are the source material for nitrous oxide emissions and can also leach into groundwater.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, nitrous oxide emitted from soil accounts for one-half of agriculture emissions that contribute to global warming. Emission levels are often higher in agricultural soil due to the use fertilizers and manure.
Nichol’s research was part of a larger study with fellow UBC researchers Melanie Jones and Louise Nelson. The study was recently published in the journal Agricultural Water Management. To find out more, visit: sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378377416300592
UBC is working with public school educators to create ways to bring more innovation into Okanagan classrooms.
As part of an effort to help increase innovation and computer coding taught in Kindergarten to Grade 5 classrooms, UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Education recently hosted an event with School District 23.
The June 10th event saw tech sector entrepreneurs, UBC faculty members and school district educators discuss ways to bring more applied science skills into technology (ADST) into classrooms starting this September.
“In order to innovate, we need to collaborate,” says Susan Crichton, director of UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Education and its Innovative Learning Centre (ILC). “The ILC had an active role in the development of ADST curriculum and recognizes that educators and technology innovators in our region have a significant role in leading change in teaching and learning.”
The think-tank event saw a number of ideas and experiences shared on how technology works in classrooms, and how it can work moving forward.
One educator from School District 23 shared her experience, inviting members of a local First Peoples’ group to the classroom to share stories about their culture, while another educator shared his experience with a project that involved researching artifacts from an ancient civilization that students then replicated on a 3D printer.
“The introduction of coding and design thinking pedagogies is a new professional development area for the majority of classroom teachers across British Columbia,” says Jon Rever, Director of Instruction at School District 23. “Teachers and administrators from the Central Okanagan School District are excited to engage with members of the Faculty of Education at UBC Okanagan and local high-tech industry leaders to co-create a teaching and learning model that will support classroom teachers to develop real-world coding, design thinking and learning opportunities for students.”
Coding workshops for kids are becoming increasingly popular in BC and beyond. In January, UBC Okanagan hosted Codecreate, an event which saw more than 100 students across the Okanagan Valley learn to code. The event was attended by Mayor Colin Basran and supported by local MLAs Christy Clark, Steve Thomson and Norm Letnick.
A study recently released by Accelerate Okanagan showed the valley’s technology sector contributed $1 billion to the regional economy in 2013.
Thirty-eight students from Salmon Arm were recently awarded bursaries and scholarships in recognition of their hard work in and out of the classroom.
Students and their families, alongside College officials and donors from the community, gathered on Wednesday, June 15 for the annual Salmon Arm campus awards ceremony. And for a number of students training toward helping careers, a helping hand from those around them is bringing big dreams within reach.
As new Salmon Arm resident and mature student Shayda Yazdanmehr attests, receiving a bursary has done far more than reduce financial strain—it has validated her decision to return to school.
“Receiving an award from the College is incredibly motivating,” says Yazdanmehr, who took home the Salmon Arm Campus Adult Academic and Career Prep Award. “Since moving here, the College and this community have been so supportive. And thanks to that, I’ve been able to get on the fast-track towards my career goals far quicker than I ever expected.”
Originally from Yellowknife, NWT, Yazdanmehr moved to the Shuswap two years ago after visiting family in the region. She soon decided to pursue upgrading as part of the College’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) offerings, which are designed to assist students in obtaining the prerequisites needed to enter one of the College’s degree, diploma, or certificate programs. After completing the necessary upgrades, she plans to enrol in one of the College’s Health and Social Development programs and has already begun shadowing local health industry professionals to get a sense of the day-to-day work in a variety of fields.
“I am very interested in blending a program in healthcare with various healing arts and hope to work with children,” explains Yazdanmehr. “OC has many opportunities for me to get started on that path.”
Salmon Arm-born Julia Agassiz echoes her fellow student’s comments about the cost-savings of being able to pursue her education in the Shuswap community. Agassiz will graduate from the 18-month Practical Nursing diploma program in January. A mother of twin five-year-olds, she says being able to stay close to home has made all the difference in her being able to pursue her nursing dream.
“Having the opportunity to stay in Salmon Arm and not have to commute elsewhere, or move, has been tremendously helpful,” notes Agassiz, who also credits receiving an award as inspiration to finish her program strong over the next six months.
“As a mother of two young children, any additional support I can bring in for my education is a huge relief and goes a long way. I am so grateful for this award. I hope as I enter into a career where I’ll be helping people day in, day out, that I’ll be able to pay it forward and make an impact in the community.”
At the ceremony, Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean of the Shuswap-Revelstoke, acknowledged the hard work and determination of students, and the role that community support plays in enriching the learning and teaching experience in Salmon Arm.
“I extend a heartfelt congratulations to all of the recipients,” says Ragsdale. “Although I have been here only a short while, I have seen and experienced firsthand the personal commitment to students and excellence that exists at this campus.
“The support from community and the donors is the strongest I have seen anywhere in the province, and I am delighted to be a part of an event which supports and honours student achievement.”
This year, more than $75,000 will be disbursed to Shuswap area students from the Okanagan College Foundation, the Shuswap Community Foundation, local community groups and individual donors.
Biologists, engineers, statisticians, chemists and a number of grad students at UBC’s Okanagan campus will benefit from federal research grants announced Thursday.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced more than $465 million for some 4,000 awards as part of the discovery research programs for researchers across Canada; with almost $2.5 million coming to UBC’s Okanagan campus.
“We are very pleased with the success of our faculty in this latest round of funding,” says Phil Barker, vice-principal of research at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “This reflects outstanding work from our researchers and the strong upward trajectory of research on this campus. We thank NSERC for the Discovery Grant program and for their continued support of our efforts."
Twelve UBC Okanagan researchers, coming from both the School of Engineering and the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, were awarded Discovery Grants.
Discovery Grants support ongoing research projects with long-term goals, says NSERC President B. Mario Pinto, explaining they sustain the creativity and exploration that are at the heart of all research advances.
“Discoveries build the necessary foundation for an innovative, prosperous and sustainable society,” says Pinto. “A diversified and high-quality research base requires us to provide equality of opportunity across gender and culture. Bringing together multiple points of view strengthens our science, technology and innovation ecosystem and extends its many benefits more equally.”
Barker also points out that along with a Discovery Grant, Assistant Professor Kyle Larson, who teaches Earth and Environmental Sciences and Physical Geography, was awarded a prestigious three-year Discovery Accelerator grant, which will assist in his structural geological research focused on plate tectonics.
Along with the Discovery Grants, nine UBC Okanagan graduate students were awarded Canada Graduate Scholarships totaling more than $733,000 in funding for the student-led research. The student scholarships are intended to help develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel by supporting students.
Learn more about NSERC here: nserc-crsng.gc.ca
UBC Okanagan 2016 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada recipients are:
Irving K Barber School of Arts and Sciences
- Dan Durall, associate professor, biology
- Kevin Smith, professor, chemistry
- Wesley Zandberg, assistant professor, chemistry
- Kyle Larson, assistant professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Physical Geography
- Rebecca Tyson, associate professor, Mathematics, Statistics and Physics Unit
- Kyle Larson, assistant professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Physical Geography
Student Scholarships and Fellowships
- Lindsay Spielman, biology
- Rachel Field, biology
- Sudip Shrestha, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Physical Geography
School of Engineering
- Rehan Sadiq, professor, civil engineering
- Gordon Lovegrove, associate professor, civil engineering
- Ahmed Idris, assistant professor, civil engineering
- Chen Feng, assistant professor, electrical engineering
- Thomas Johnson, assistant professor, electrical engineering
- Lukas Bichler, associate professor, mechanical engineering
- Kenneth Chau, associate professor, electrical engineering
Student Scholarships and Fellowships
- Mark Bergen
- Trevor Billows
- Bradley Reinholz
- Christopher Collier
Faculty of Health and Social Development
Student Scholarships and Fellowship
- Michael Tymko
- Anthony Bain
The conscious part of the human brain is actually more in tune with body parts that are not moving, UBC research shows.
In a recent study conducted at UBC’s Okanagan campus, researchers found that many of the signals and sensations travelling between moving body parts and the brain are ignored by the conscious mind.
“Even as one of the most sophisticated computers ever made, the conscious part of the human brain ignores huge amounts of data created when body parts move in order to avoid information overload,” says Human Kinetics Prof. Gord Binsted. “This ingrained biological data sifting is very similar to what goes on in the human visual system, which ignores a vast amount of data collected while the eyes are moving.
“As a researcher, it will be interesting to see how wearable technology accounts for this significant amount of data loss; information essentially ignored by a large part of the human brain.”
Binsted’s study involved attaching micrometers—small vibrating motors attached to the skin—to see how aware research participants were of what their skin was sensing while they moved their arms.
The research showed that people were more aware of what stationary parts of their body were doing than those that were moving. And, that the human brain makes many movement decisions on its own, independent of the participant’s conscious decision-making process.
Binsted’s research was recently published in the journal Motor Behavior.
Endangered whale species and the marine traffic that threatens them can co-exist, UBC research shows.
“Each year more than 8,000 commercial ships cross through the critical habitat and foraging ground of several species of large whales,“ says Lael Parrott, associate professor of Biology and Earth & Environmental Sciences at UBC's Okanagan campus. “Although ship traffic poses many potential threats to marine life, it’s actually one of the ways of transporting commercial goods with the lowest carbon footprint.
“What our study shows is that reducing ship traffic speed in sensitive areas can significantly reduce the risk of lethal collisions between vessels and whales, protecting both marine life and their habitats.”
Parrott and representatives from Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and industry and environment sectors used a computer model to simulate the movement of boats and whales in the St. Lawrence River, an important shipping route in North America.
After looking at a number of factors, the group agreed that speed reduction provided the greatest gain for marine conservation efforts while having the least impact on shipping operations.
The study has resulted in recommendations for speed reduction being adopted by more than 80 per cent of ships transiting the whale’s main foraging ground in the Saint Lawrence River estuary.
Decreased speed has reduced the overall risk of lethal ship-strikes on whales by about 40 per cent.
“This is an excellent example of how science combined with a collaborative decision-making process can achieve a very positive outcome,” says Parrott.
Parrott’s study, published in Solutions, was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
To find out more about Lael Parrott's research, visit: ourstories.ok.ubc.ca/stories/lael-parrott
An alumnus with a connection to Okanagan College that spans more than five decades has made a gift to inspire the next generation of tradespeople who will follow in his footsteps.
Lambert Schmalz, owner of Lambert & Paul Construction Ltd., has pledged $50,000 toward the Bright Horizons campaign in support of the new Trades Training Complex at the College’s Kelowna campus. The new three-storey tower opened to students in April, as part of an overall $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion project.
“The College and this region are very dear to me,” says Schmalz, who was born in Germany and immigrated to Canada in 1956 after completing his training as a journeyperson Carpenter. “I am proud to support the place where our future tradespeople will train.”
At that time, there were only 9,600 people in Kelowna and very few residential or commercial builders. He says the opening of the College (then BC Vocational School) in 1963, helped spark the growth of the construction industry in the years that followed, and was critical in developing a culture of apprenticeship in the valley.
“Having come up through the European system of apprenticeship which has been going strong for hundreds of years, I was surprised by how little apprenticeship there was in the valley when I arrived,” explains Schmalz. “I am pleased with the progress that has been made to change that over time, and the College has played a big role in that development.”
Schmalz’s involvement with the College has taken many forms over the years. As a student, he took business courses in the mid-1960s, adding bookkeeping, drafting, and estimating to the skills he learned as a journeyman Carpenter travelling Europe. He also served on the Program Advisory Board for the Carpentry program for more than a decade beginning in the 1970s.
In 2004 Okanagan University College conferred upon Schmalz an honorary doctorate, in recognition of his long-term involvement.
“Lambert has been a dedicated champion and supporter of the College for many years,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We deeply appreciate his significant contributions to our institution and his dedication to advancing apprenticeship in the Okanagan.”
In addition to founding multiple contracting companies, Schmalz was also a founding member of the Okanagan chapter of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA), a professional organization that promotes affordability and choice in the residential construction industry.
Individuals and businesses from the construction sector have contributed more than $500,000 to the Bright Horizons campaign to date. Schmalz recently challenged the valley’s builders to reach the $1-million mark.
“These tradespeople are our future work force,” said Schmalz. “If we don’t support them, who will?”
It is a message echoed by Schmalz’s friend and colleague Gord Wilson. Wilson, owner of Team Construction, has also stepped forward with $50,000 for the campaign.
Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Complex is now open to students; a grand opening is being planned for September. The three-year capital construction project rejuvenated existing spaces to match the same sustainability standards of the new tower, which is targeting LEED Platinum, net-zero energy usage, and carbon-neutrality. The complex will allow the College to train more than 2,700 students per year in Kelowna.
The Okanagan College Foundation is aiming to raise an additional $5-million for capital construction and $2-million for program and student support, to top up the provincial government’s $28-million investment.
To learn more about the campaign and opportunities to get involved, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.
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