News & Events
School of Information Technology Wins at Skills Canada Career Exploration Showcase
Fanshawe College's School of Information Technology took home a second place award from the Skills Canada - Ontario Career Exploration Showcase. The event, which took place on May 4 and 5, 2009, drew an estimated 25,000 visitors. The IT exhibit featuring 3D programming lessons was presented with an award ribbon for creativity, student engagement, and 'fun' factor.
Professor Bill Pulling (centre) helps a student at the School of Information Technology exhibit at SLOME (Skills London Oxford Middlesex Elgin) on May 13, 2009.
"The School of IT was glad to be a part of two very good events: Skills Canada and SLOME," said Kevin Weaver, Chair of Fanshawe's School of Information Technology. "This was our first time having an interactive booth at those events and we feel it was very worthwhile. Between the two events, there were over 30,000 people in attendance and we promoted IT, Fanshawe and our programs by letting the students interact with technology. To receive second place as an exhibit at the Skills Canada Career Exploration Day is an honour and a reflection of the time and effort that went into the event by professors and staff."
The Skills Canada - Ontario Career Exploration Showcase is held in conjunction with the Ontario Technological Skills Competition to promote careers in technology, trades, and skills-based employment. The event, held annually at RIM Park in Waterloo, allows young people to explore different career opportunities in a hands-on way. Visitors to the event include students in grades 7 to 12, educators, government representatives, industry representatives, parents, and the general public.
Students visiting the IT booth had the chance to explore computer programming using 3D software called Alice. Alice is an innovative open source system designed to make abstract concepts concrete in the eyes of first-time programmers. Using the free object-oriented software, students are able to create animations using a drag-and-drop editor and typing basic commands.
"When the judges saw the students using the Alice Flight Simulator, I sensed that some of them thought we were just letting the kids play some game that they could just as easily play at home," said Bill Pulling, a Java programming professor and one of several Fanshawe faculty involved in the exhibit. "I explained to them that Alice was actually a sophisticated programming tool. I stressed that this is what we really wanted to show the students...that Alice could be used to learn some really fundamental programming concepts in a really fun way. I mentioned that we had experimented using Alice in our introductory programming course at Fanshawe in the fall and winter semesters and had had fairly good results with it."
Other Fanshawe College participants at the Career Exploration Showcase included the Faculty of Technology, the School of Tourism and Hospitality, and the St Thomas/Elgin campus.
Music Industry Arts coordinator Steve Malison (bottom right) introduces students to audio technology at SLOME.
In addition, similar exhibits were displayed at the Western Fair Grounds on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 for SLOME (Skills London Oxford Middlesex Elgin). SLOME, a local youth career exploration day now in its tenth year, is an independent not-for-profit project of the Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford Local Training Board which partners youth and business. Close to 5,000 students in grades 5 to 12 attended the event to participate in over 90 interactive activities, including several Fanshawe College displays.
"The survey we collected indicated college was a preferred destination after high school," said Debra Mountenay, Executive Director of the Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford Local Training Board. "It is vital that our local community college be prominent with these students.... I was delighted to see such great participation from Fanshawe."
Fanshawe participants at SLOME included the Faculty of Technology, the Faculty of Arts, Media and Design, the School of Tourism and Hospitality, the St Thomas/Elgin campus, the Oxford County (Woodstock) campus, and the School of Information Technology.
"We used the same approach in our booth at the SLOME exhibit on Wednesday [as at Skills Canada], and added some more interactive displays dealing with computer security and hacking," said IT professor Bill Pulling. "Dan MacIntyre, another professor in the IT School, handled this aspect of our display and it was a great hit with the high school crowd."
Other Fanshawe displays at SLOME involved audio engineering, graphic design, small engine operation, robotics, aesthetics and hair styling, and international foods.