A boost for tech

An RBC donation is boosting tech programs at Okanagan College. Celebrating the news are RBC vice president of commercial banking Ray Warren, Okanagan College foundation’s Helen Jackman, RBC community manager Courtney Hesse and Okanagan College network and telecommunications engineering technology professor Troy Berg.

At only 15 years old, Matias Hartwig has already created several technology apps including a digital tape measure that measures distance by sound waves.

Having fallen in love with technology at a young age, it was not a stretch for Hartwig, a W.L. Seaton Secondary student in Vernon, to enrol in Gateway to Tech, a collaborative program offered by Okanagan College and local school districts.

The program is helping high school students understand how current technology will shape their careers by offering a 17-week course exploring how various technologies function. While the program is offered at the college, students receive credits towards their high-school graduation.

The original funding for Gateway to Tech came from B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Now, the program is receiving a major boost with a $50,000 donation from RBC.

The funds will specifically help the college create a work-integrated learning component to Gateway to Tech when it is offered in Salmon Arm this spring. The addition of work-integrated learning will allow students to gain indispensable, real-world experience and connections with local technology companies before they graduate.

“With this generous gift, RBC is demonstrating how much it values investing in youth to succeed in the careers of today and tomorrow,” says Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College’s director of continuing studies and corporate training.

“We know technology will significantly change our economy and more people will need coding and technical skills to meet the needs of our future workforce. The opportunity for students to work directly with local tech companies gives them a much better understanding of the skills they’ll need to be

successful and contribute to our communities.”

The $50,000 investment comes from RBC’s Future Launch program.

For students like Hartwig, Gateway to Tech is only reaffirming his passion for computer science. Not only is he enjoying the program, but he has big goals for his future.

“I want to develop something that people will use in their day-to-day lives,” says Hartwig.

Okanagan College’s Gateway to Tech program is currently running in Vernon with a Kelowna, Osoyoos and Salmon Arm intake this spring.