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Campus Life  

Bold new plans unveiled for UBCO Downtown

A concept drawing of UBCO Downtown's exterior

A concept drawing of how UBCO Downtown's exterior could impact downtown Kelowna. Architectural rendering by HCMA and Olson Kundig.

It's bold, bright and about to make a significant impact on the heart of Kelowna's cultural and business district.

Plans unveiled this week offer a glimpse inside UBCO Downtown, located at Doyle Ave. and St. Paul St., and give dramatic insight into the future of Kelowna and the heart of its downtown core.

"These latest renderings and video flythrough give the clearest vision yet of how UBCO Downtown will weave our campus' excellence in research and teaching into the cultural, economic and social fabric of Kelowna's downtown core," says Dr. Lesley Cormack, Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UBC's Okanagan campus.

UBCO Downtown will feature a grand atrium on the main floor and eight storeys of academic space, cutting-edge simulated hospital wards to train nursing students, a public art gallery, a public engagement suite and a variety of other learning areas.

The eight-storey academic base will be accompanied by another 36 storeys of residential rental space with more than 500 units designed specifically to meet the needs of UBC Okanagan students, faculty and staff.

The latest drawings and video were published today on the UBCO Downtown project website and presented this week to the UBC Board of Governors and community partners as they held their annual meeting in Kelowna.

"This will be a bustling and vibrant hub of activity," says Dr. Cormack. "UBCO is incredibly fortunate to attract some of the brightest, most innovative and deeply caring students, faculty and staff I've encountered. These are the people--working for a better city, province and world--that will fill the halls of this downtown building, leaving a positive mark on our community downtown and beyond."

Having a footprint downtown, close to Interior Health, Kelowna General Hospital, the Innovation Centre, social services offices and local business is an important aspect of UBCO's growth and research priorities, says Dr. Phil Barker, Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research and Innovation at UBCO.

"We've long recognized the value of training our students and engaging in research by meeting our partners where they are located," he adds. "The face of downtown Kelowna will change as students, faculty and staff in nursing, social work, the arts and management tackle pressing social, medical and technical challenges that are important to our region."

Inspired by the glistening waters of Okanagan Lake, boat sails and the semi-arid mountain landscape iconic to the Okanagan, UBCO Downtown's colour palette and façade will stand as a reflection of the region it serves, according to Dr. Barker.

"We've worked hard to embrace designs that are shaped by the colours, textures, and intersections that exist in Kelowna," he says. "We hope that residents from across the Okanagan will take pride in UBCO Downtown--knowing that its design and the research and teaching taking place there will help shape our region for decades to come."

"It will be exciting to live, study and perform research in the heart of downtown Kelowna," Dr. Barker adds.

A drawing of UBCO Downtown's open atrium

A concept drawing of UBCO Downtown's open atrium that will be a gathering space for the public and UBCO students, faculty and staff. Architectural rendering by HCMA and Olson Kundig

The post Bold new plans unveiled for UBCO Downtown appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.



Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Sales Help Fund the Future of Healthcare in the Okanagan

Royal Canadian Legion cheque presentation

The Royal Canadian Legion has donated $80,000 from its Poppy Fund to support Okanagan College’s new multidisciplinary Health Sciences Centre.

The Centre, which is located at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, is a state-of-the-art training facility for health and social care students. It opened its doors in 2021.

“We took a building tour and were extremely impressed with the advanced level of training being provided. We believe in the power of education, and we’re proud to invest in the next generation of health care providers,” says Darlene McCaffery, President, Branch 26, The Royal Canadian Legion.

The new Health Sciences Centre will allow Okanagan College to educate more students in high-demand areas where critical staffing shortages are expected to grow.

“We raise money through poppy sales to support Veterans and their families. What better way to do that than by ensuring they have access to well-trained health care professionals in their local communities,” says McCaffery.

Image of the front of the Health Sciences Centre

Okanagan College Foundation’s Our Students, Your Health Campaign has been raising money for the Health Sciences Centre since 2019.

With the support of their generous community donors, the campaign has raised 4.5-million-dollars towards the cost of the 19-million-dollar facility.

Though the doors are now open to students, community support is still needed to fund several vital pieces of training equipment and to reach the campaign’s 5-million-dollar fundraising goal.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Royal Canadian Legion and the abundance of community support we’ve received. Contributions to the Our Students, Your Health campaign will transform students’ lives and improve the health of communities throughout the Okanagan,” says Helen Jackman, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation.

To learn more about Okanagan College Foundation’s Our Students, Your Health campaign, please contact Holly Routley at [email protected].



New Okanagan College student housing coming to Kelowna

BCgov-600x400

Student housing spaces at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus will more than double as construction starts on the first on-campus student housing to be added in more than 30 years.

“Together with Okanagan College, we are investing in student housing that will benefit generations of learners who can focus on their studies without worrying about where they will live,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “We are working hard to deliver 8,000 new student housing spaces on campus throughout B.C. by 2028, and to date we have more than 6,800 new spaces open or underway throughout the province.”

This is one of three student-housing projects in the Okanagan. Construction will start later this year on the first on-campus student housing at the college’s Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses. The Province is investing $66.5 million into the three residences. The total project cost is $67.5 million.

“Having a stable and affordable place to live is critical to the success of learners,” said Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College. “Adding housing at three Okanagan College campuses will foster more inclusive and equitable access to education that will transform the lives of students.”

You can view the full release, here.



OC alumna gives back with bursary for high school grads

Erum Ahmad

Okanagan College alumna Erum Ahmad has been spending her time teaching Vernon high school students how to be smart with their money.

Now, she is giving one of those students a chance to put their learnings into action by creating a bursary to fund the next steps of their educational journey.

Erum, who graduated from Okanagan College in 2021, found a passion in sharing financial literacy with high school students after experiencing a lack of financial training herself.

“When I was in grade 10, I realized there were no classes to help me learn about finances,” she says. “I needed more than an introduction to budgeting, so I decided to take a course in basic accounting.”

While basic accounting was not offered at Erum’s high school, she enrolled in a course remotely. It took tenacity to learn the materials outside of the classroom and through the process, she fell in love with accounting. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting) from OC in 2021.

“I absolutely love the idea of being able to manage my money,” says Erum. “Everyone has to have a job and needs to manage their funds. Financial literacy is an important part in helping it all make sense.”

For over two years, Erum has been taking her learnings back to the high school where she now teaches, offering to help Clarence Fulton Secondary School students learn about financial literacy.

“At the end of the day, students need to have money in order to be smart with their funds,” says Erum. “There are many transitions taking place as you move from high school to living on your own, balancing work and college life. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to teach that to students and allow them to manage their own money. I wanted to give them the education as well as the funds to apply what they have learned.”

And at this past weekend’s graduation at Clarence Fulton, Erum was there to present a bursary to Taia Buffie. 

With matching funding from her employer, Progression Muscle, Bone, and Joint Clinic, Erum says the process of creating the bursary was easier than she expected.

“Giving back is important to me because that’s where I know it is going to make a difference,” she says. “When one person gives back and helps another student, it starts a cycle that keeps growing.”

Erum has experienced the impact financial awards can have. While completing her program at OC, she had four surgeries to address health issues.

“I was very sick, but I still had to finish my courses,” says Erum. “I had a lot of anxiety as I tried to get better. Because of the awards and bursaries I received, I was able to take care of myself and not worry about my finances. I’m very thankful for that support and the flexibility of my instructors who accommodated my schedule.”

Erum plans to continue adding to her love of accounting as she works towards Chartered Professional Accounting certification in September. She also plans to continue teaching about financial literacy in the community.



OC students shine at national competitions

Owen Davis-Skill Canada-600x400

Two Okanagan College students who captured gold at provincial competitions made it to the podium at the Skills Canada National Competition in Vancouver.  

Skills Canada features more than 300 competitors from all regions of the country competing in more than 35 skills trade and technology categories. It is the only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices, which also provides hands-on work experience related to skilled trades and technology careers.  

Owen Davis, a student in OC’s Aircraft Maintenance Technician program, won gold in the Aerospace Technology competition. 

Davis is a Vernon resident and is delighted he didn’t have to leave the Okanagan to get an education in his chosen field. “I thoroughly enjoy my teachers,” he says. “They are always willing to help you out.” 

Davis eventually wants to work on helicopters, and thinks winning gold at both provincial and national competitions will help realize this dream. “I think 100 per cent it is going to help me land the job I want.” 

Joey Bruno, a third-year apprentice in the Auto Body and Collision Technician program, won silver in Automotive Collision Repair. 

Bruno is already working at a collision repair shop in Abbotsford.  He credits OC for helping develop his skills and work ethic. 

The student from Mission, B.C., says the instructors, facilities and equipment are all excellent. “Coming to Okanagan College was the right choice,” he says.  “The instructors are great, especially at hands-on teaching.” 

“It is no small feat to perform this technical work to their utmost skill and ability under the watchful eyes of expert judges and within a time limit. Both Owen and Joey performed admirably,” said Stephen Speers, Dean of OC Trades and Apprenticeship. “Okanagan College is proud of their achievements and know more success awaits them in future.” 

Another medal was taken home by Wade Arbo, winning bronze as the BC representative in the IT – Network Systems Administration section. Wade has formally graduated with an Infrastructure and Computing Technology Diploma earlier this June. 

To learn more about programs and courses at Okanagan College, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/explore



CONVOCATION STOLES FEATURING SYILX, SECWEPEMC PICTOGRAPHS HONOUR GRADUATES

Indigenous Stoles

As Canadians prepare to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, Okanagan College is recognizing Indigenous graduates in a new and special way.

This year for the first time, Indigenous students who cross the stage at OC convocation and commencement ceremonies are being gifted with a specially designed convocation stole, embroidered with Syilx and Secwepemc pictographs.

“On National Indigenous Peoples Day and every day, it is critically important that we remember and appreciate the privilege it is to live, work and play on the beautiful lands of the Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc peoples, and that we honour the history, celebrate the achievements and recognize the strength of all Indigenous peoples,” says Dr. Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College.

“These stoles are a small symbol of our commitment to each Indigenous student who studies at Okanagan College and of the critical partnerships we are building with Indigenous communities across the region.”

The stoles were designed by Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc knowledge keeper and artist Les Louis, who has family lineage to both Lower Similkameen and Bonaparte Indian bands.

“My creativity stems from many influences, but none so important as my culture, language, traditions and mother nature,” Louis says.

One of the pictographs on the stoles is a canoe design with three figures, symbolizing the Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon Okanagan College campuses on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people. The canoe family also represents the collaboration and connection of students, faculty and staff paddling together through a graduate’s educational journey.

The second pictograph features three eagles and is a Secwepemc design representative of the Salmon Arm campus and its location on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc. The eagles are respected and revered and carry a special significance as they fly highest and are the closest to the Creator.

National Indigenous Peoples Day was first celebrated on June 21, 1996, after it was proclaimed that year by then Governor General of Canada, Romeo LeBlanc. Since then, the day has been marked across the country by local and national events, celebrations and ceremonies.

“The legacy and ongoing impacts of colonial systems in Canada and the residential schools that existed across this country continue to be experienced today, and therefore we must keep reconciliation at the forefront of all that we do,” says Dr. Fassina.

To learn more about the stoles visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/indigenization

To find National Indigenous Peoples Day events in your region please visit https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/events  



Convocation stoles featuring Syilx, Secwepemc pictographs honour graduates

Indigenous stoles

As Canadians prepare to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, Okanagan College is recognizing Indigenous graduates in a new and special way.

This year for the first time, Indigenous students who cross the stage at OC convocation and commencement ceremonies are being gifted with a specially designed convocation stole, embroidered with Syilx and Secwepemc pictographs.

“On National Indigenous Peoples Day and every day, it is critically important that we remember and appreciate the privilege it is to live, work and play on the beautiful lands of the Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc peoples, and that we honour the history, celebrate the achievements and recognize the strength of all Indigenous peoples,” says Dr. Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College.

“These stoles are a small symbol of our commitment to each Indigenous student who studies at Okanagan College and of the critical partnerships we are building with Indigenous communities across the region.” 

The stoles were designed by Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc knowledge keeper and artist Les Louis, who has family lineage to both Lower Similkameen and Bonaparte Indian bands.

“My creativity stems from many influences, but none so important as my culture, language, traditions and mother nature,” Louis says.

One of the pictographs on the stoles is a canoe design with three figures, symbolizing the Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon Okanagan College campuses on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people. The canoe family also represents the collaboration and connection of students, faculty and staff paddling together through a graduate’s educational journey.

The second pictograph features three eagles and is a Secwepemc design representative of the Salmon Arm campus and its location on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc. The eagles are respected and revered and carry a special significance as they fly highest and are the closest to the Creator.

National Indigenous Peoples Day was first celebrated on June 21, 1996, after it was proclaimed that year by then Governor General of Canada, Romeo LeBlanc. Since then, the day has been marked across the country by local and national events, celebrations and ceremonies.

“The legacy and ongoing impacts of colonial systems in Canada and the residential schools that existed across this country continue to be experienced today, and therefore we must keep reconciliation at the forefront of all that we do,” says Dr. Fassina.

To learn more about the stoles visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/indigenization

To find National Indigenous Peoples Day events in your region please visit https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/events



UBCO prof digs into geological history of rocks atop Everest

A photo of the summit pyramid of Mount Everest

New research from Dr. Kyle Larson's lab has been able to pinpoint a timeline of when the rocks atop the summit pyramid of Mount Everest were deformed as part of the growth of the Himalaya. Photo credit: Kyle Larson.

It's been a topic of debate among geologists for years--when did the deformation of rocks at the top of Mount Everest take place?

Over the years, several theories have been proposed--but none have stuck--until now.

In a recent study led by UBC Okanagan researcher Dr. Kyle Larson, the team found evidence that shows, for the first time, that the rocks atop Everest were deformed as part of the Himalaya's development. Dr. Larson explains the rocks were sheared in response to the collision more than 45 million years ago between India and the Eurasian landmass. This collision is responsible for the development of the 3,000-kilometre-long Himalaya range between India, Nepal and Tibet.

Dr. Larson is a professor in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science and Director of the Fipke Laboratory for Trace Element Research. His latest study, published in Terra Nova discusses what this means for the future of geological research. Dr. Larson is also UBCO's Natural Sciences and Engineering Researcher of the Year.

Can you share some insight as to why determining when these rocks were deformed has been historically difficult?

Given the difficulties in just reaching the summit, including weather issues, the expense of an expedition--and the high altitude that affects physical performance and cognition--collecting samples from the top of Everest is not simple. And it can be potentially deadly.

Without the appropriate samples and the analytical techniques that can date the types of minerals in the summer rocks, as geologists, we've been scratching our heads for quite some time trying to figure out which of our theories made the most sense.

Some studies propose the summit rocks were deformed as part of the Himalayan collision, while others suggest it likely happened 500 million years earlier during the formation of the supercontinent, Gondwana. The bottom line is there was never a definitive answer.

What did your results reveal?

Our study shows these rocks were deformed as part of the development of the Himalaya range, specifically about 45 million years ago.

Interestingly, the rocks at the top of Everest were deformed at the same time as the rocks at the base of the Himalaya, more than 50 kilometres below Earth's surface. This is very rare because typically deformation happens in discrete zones--it takes a lot of energy to deform rocks and it usually follows specific horizons of weakness in Earth's crust.

Deformation of the entire crust at once indicates a large-scale change--or event. And if you look at what was happening regionally at this time, there was a plate tectonic reorganization in the South Pacific including a significant bend in the Emperor/Hawaiian seamount chain. This can be easily seen on Google Earth. This is why we argue that the top of Everest provides a "plate tectonic view" as it seems to record the time at which all this regional plate tectonic shift was happening.

How were you able to come to this conclusion?

We applied a relatively new method for dating rocks that was not previously possible. It looks at the amount of uranium and lead in the mineral calcite. Uranium is unstable and radiogenically decays to lead. Because we know how fast this happens, we can measure how much uranium versus how much lead was in the rocks to calculate its age exactly.

How will your results affect future research in this area?

Getting access to rocks from the summit of Mount Everest is rare, so this research is an excellent example of how we can take a small bit of rock and use the information we obtain through dating techniques to tell a massive plate tectonic story--it's a pretty extraordinary process.

A photo of Mount Everest

Researchers have determined the rocks at the top of Everest were deformed at the same time as the rocks at the base of the Himalaya, more than 50 kilometres below Earth's surface. This is a very rare occurrence and indicates a large-scale geographic change took place. Photo credit: Kyle Larson.

The post UBCO prof digs into geological history of rocks atop Everest appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.



UBCO researchers change the game when it comes to activity tracking

A photo of UBCO doctoral student Ahmadreza Ghaffarkhah using a 3D printer.

UBCO doctoral student Ahmadreza Ghaffarkhah uses a 3D printer to create small and highly-accurate sensors that can be integrated into clothing and equipment.

The creation of high-resolution extrusion printing--think 3D printing but with ink that conducts electricity--has enabled UBC researchers to explore the potential of wearable human motion devices.

Wearable technology--smartwatches, heart monitors, sleep aid devices, even step counters--have become part of everyday life. And researchers with UBC Okanagan's Nanomaterials and Polymer Nanocomposites Laboratory, have created even smaller, lighter and highly-accurate sensors that can be integrated into clothing and equipment.

In collaboration with Drexel University and the University of Toronto, the UBCO research team is exploring a high-resolution extrusion printing approach to develop tiny devices with dual functionality--electromagnetic interference (EMI) shields and a body motion sensor.

Tiny and lightweight, these EMI shields can have applications in the health care, aerospace and automotive industries, explains Dr. Mohammad Arjmand, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Advanced Materials and Polymer Engineering at UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering.

Using a two-dimensional inorganic nanomaterial called MXene, alongside a conductive polymer, Dr. Arjmand's team has customized a conductive ink with a number of properties that make it easier to adapt into wearable technologies.

"Advanced or smart materials that provide electrical conductivity and flexibility are highly sought-after," he says. "Extrusion printing of these conductive materials will allow for macro-scale patterning, meaning we can produce different shapes or geometries, and the product will have outstanding architecture flexibility."

Currently, manufacturing technologies of these functional materials are mostly limited to laminated and unsophisticated structures that don't enable the integration of monitoring technologies, explains doctoral student Ahmadreza Ghaffarkhah.

"These printed structures can be seeded with micro-cracks to develop highly sensitive sensors. Tiny cracks in their structures are used to track small vibrations in their surroundings," says Ghaffarkhah. "These vibrations can monitor a multitude of human activities, including breathing, facial movements, talking as well as the contraction and relaxation of a muscle."

By going back to the drawing board, the UBCO researchers were able to address a major challenge encountered by extrusion printing. Previously, the technology didn’t allow for high-enough printing resolution, so it was difficult to manufacture highly precise structures.

"Compared to conventional manufacturing technologies, extrusion printing offers customization, reduction in materials waste, and rapid production, while opening up numerous opportunities for wearable and smart electronics," explains Dr. Arjmand. "As extrusion printing techniques improve, it is opening the door to many unique innovations."

The researchers continue to investigate additional applications for extrusion printing inks that go beyond EMI shields and wearable electronics.

The research was published in Carbon, with financial support from a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Alliance Grant and Zentek Limited.

The post UBCO researchers change the game when it comes to activity tracking appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.



Minister and Mayor open Kelowna’s newest active transportation corridor for riders

ActiveTransportationCorridor-600x400

The Casorso active transportation corridor (ATC) between Raymer Ave. and KLO Rd. is the latest addition to Kelowna’s cycling network and it is now ready for riders. The B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Honourable Rob Fleming, visited Okanagan College to recognize and celebrate the completion of this project. The College is one of the main destinations connected along the Ethel Casorso ATC corridor stretching from Downtown Kelowna to the Pandosy Urban Centre.

“Having safe and convenient routes for walking, cycling and active transportation offers students affordable options to get to classes and around Kelowna. In addition, this investment aligns with Okanagan College’s commitment to environmental sustainability, and supports our learning community in leading healthier lives,” said Neil Fassina, Okanagan College President.

Read the full release here



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