Revelstoke Tech Summit steers students into careers of the future

Feb. 22 event, hosted at Revelstoke Secondary School, aimed to bridge the gap between tech industry professionals and Revelstoke’s youth

Robert Atwood, CEO of Hummingbird Drones, talks about the advanced technology of the new Matrice 200 drone, used in search and rescue efforts. Photo: Louise Stanway/Revelstoke Mountaineer

The electric atmosphere composed of loud chatter, laughter and ideas at yesterday’s tech summit, could be matched only by the hum of the newly released ‘Matrice 200’ drone, which hovered outside the window while students stared on in awe. The positive energy in the room emanated from both students and industry professionals alike, as local and international business representatives discussed their projects during the ‘career tradeshow’ portion of the event.

Students gather at demonstration tables to try out state of the art technology. Photo: Louise Stanway/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Hack into Tech: Revelstoke Tech Summit, was put together collaboratively by the City of Revelstoke and Startup Revelstoke to, “address the opportunities and challenges surrounding the evolving job market, the diversity of careers that incorporate technology, and the skills Canada’s youth will need to successfully integrate into the workforce.”

Students gather at demonstration tables to try out state of the art technology. Photo: Louise Stanway/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Taking place at Revelstoke Secondary School, the event was open to students as well as the public, and consisted of a presentation by David Ascher (Buddybuild) as well as an open-panel discussion led and moderated by Simon Wex (Adobe), followed by a careers tradeshow in the afternoon, featuring local and international information technology professionals.

Taylin Simmonds from The Centre for Arts and Technology teaches youth how to use complex DJ deck equipment. Photo: Louise Stanway/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Participating in the event were businesses such as Parks Canada, City of Revelstoke, BC Hydro, Hummingbird Drones, Canadian Avalanche Association, Centre for Arts and Technology, Shopify and more. This ensemble provided a diverse, yet suitably themed, array of information and demonstrations for Revelstoke’s youth.

Richard Sullivan, from Hummingbird Drones, explains to students how their drones can be used for forestry, wildfires, SAR, videography and more. Photo: Louise Stanway/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Jean Marc La Flamme — one of the key organisers behind the event — is the Mountain CoLab founder as well as the executive in residence for Kootenay Association for Science and Technology. Most recently, La Flamme stepped into the role of community leader for the newly-launched Startup Revelstoke project — a small business incubator with a big agenda, he explained. Startup Revelstoke’s principal mission is, “to bring people together to take risks, experiment, support one another in both success and failures, as we create bold opportunities with social impact.?

Youth wander around the diverse selection of tables set out by local and international businesses. Photo: Louise Stanway/Revelstoke Mountaineer

La Flamme believes that the tech summit event helps to bridge the gap between the school curriculum and the increasingly complex job market. “There is only so much the school system can do,” said La Flamme. “We need to collaborate with the community more and see our adults and youth mixing in a professional environment.” He emphasizes our need to, “experiment with new programming that’s never been tried before,” as it is ultimately our responsibility “to try things and not be afraid of failure.”

City of Revelstoke Electrician/ SCADA Technician, Jason Zimmer, demonstrates the various equipment which is at work in and around Revelstoke. Photo: Louise Stanway/Revelstoke Mountaineer

This mentality seemed to be present in force at yesterday’s event, as multiple businesses encouraged students to be active participants in their demonstrations, in attempts to break down the barrier between the established, and the up-and-coming. Ivan Sampson, from the Kelowna’s Centre for Arts and Technology, explained that their programs seek to provide students with, “real life skills” and a, “hands on approach.” The longest program that the college offers is two years, with the hopes that during this time students will acquire the skills they need to get a good foothold in their industry. “Ultimately,” Sampson explained, “the most effective way to learn is through real trial and error; you need to make mistakes, you need to fail, it’s the only way to get better.”

Buttons available from Startup Revelstoke to celebrate their launch. Photo: Louise Stanway/Revelstoke Mountaineer

The Tech Summit and its driving principles, encourage youth to create future solutions to real problems we are facing now. The effective selection of both international and local business representatives, played an important role in helping youth understand the workings of the innovative technology that is already at play within our small mountain town. The hands on approach provided was especially useful for the older students, whose career in the tech industry could be within reaching distance.

The event was viewed as a success in the eyes of many. LaFlamme was pleased with the “great” reaction he had received from participants at the event. “All the kids are really interested in the future of work. They love technology, they want their own businesses and to work on their own projects. They are excited with the new and bored with the old; they want to create.”

Startup Revelstoke Launch

Later in the evening, about 60 people gathered at the new Mt Begbie Brewing Co. tasting room for the official launch of Startup Revelstoke.

According to the Startup Revelstoke website, Startup Revelstoke is a business launchpad bringing together entrepreneurs with mentors and investors passionate about a smart city. “With coworking and fabrication labs, events and online tools, our mission is to get people together to take risks, experiment, support one another in both success and failures, as we create bold opportunities with social impact. We are small business smashed with big business, and our programs focus on economic and environmental sustainability.”

The organization is a partnership between Community Futures Revelstoke, the City of Revelstoke, Kootenay Association of Science and Technology, and Mountain ColLb.

To learn more about Startup Revelstoke, visit their website here.

Jean Marc La Flamme addresses the crowd at the official Startup Revelstoke launch at Mt. Begbie Brewing Co. on Feb. 22. The evening included a presentation from David Ascher, most recently the VP of Engineering of buddybuild, a web software development company recently acquired by Apple. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Watch a livestreamed video of the evening presentations here: