SD#91 iCubed tech and entrepreneurship youth summit a first for Northern B.C.

Sagar Saxena, SD#91 Community Engagement and Partnerships Officer; Grade 12 student, Candon Macfarlane, who livestreamed the iCubed event; Andy Sundahl NVSS Visual Media Arts and Technology Teacher at SD#91 Nechako Lakes. Photo Fiona Maureen
Event organisers, presenters, panelists, and SD#91 staff. Photo submitted
Challenging Shawn of Volcanic Gaming, Prince George. Photo submitted
Students in the NVSS Integris Community Theatre with the panelists upfront. Photo submitted
Elementary students gathered around a Lego Robotics presentation. Photo submitted
Flight simulator. Photo submitted
Manu Madhok, SD#91 Deputy Superintendent. Photo submitted
Flight simulator. Photo submitted
Elementary students gathered around a Lego Robotics presentation. Photo submitted
First keynote slide with event agenda. Photo submitted

SD#91 – Nechako Lakes’ Careers Department delivered the first ever iCubed – Tech and Entrepreneurship Summit for youth from Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake and Fort St. James on Oct. 25, 2017 at Nechako Valley Secondary School in Vanderhoof. The ‘iCubed’ name denotes the iterative process of ‘Invention, Innovation and Integration.’

The day’s packed agenda included guest speakers, panelists and industry exhibitors from Vanderhoof, Prince George and Vancouver as a part of this pilot initiative. The vision is to open any perceived closed doors for the youth in Nechako Lakes School District so students can learn and explore new pathways towards careers in technology and entrepreneurship, possibly something they may not have considered before.

“It was good to be back up north and see such inspirational and progressive thinking in terms of exposing youth to entrepreneurship. When I was growing up here nothing like this existed, as far as I know. With the launch of iCubed students now have an incredible opportunity to broaden their horizons. It was a fantastic event that I highly recommend for kids, parents and faculty alike consider attending,” says panelist Paul Brassard, Managing Partner of Volition.

I3 = Invention, Innovation, Integration

SD#91’s iCubed is a platform for the youth to learn and be part of the Technology and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. The event was created to kick start and sustain the entrepreneurial thinking among our youth in schools. It was also meant to help attract medium and large size companies to invest in our youth and the Nechako Lakes region.

Vision to level the playing field

The summit this year was the first of many to come as part of the SD#91 vision for students to explore career opportunities within Tech sector, as entrepreneurs and develop the rapid problem solving mindset which will help them in any field they choose as a career path. At each Summit in the coming years, students will get to hear first hand stories from the entrepreneurs who share their journey to success. Students will get a chance to interact with players from the tech industry from around the province. The Summit will likely expand to cover two days and host communities will rotate through Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.

Live streamed on you tube

The 2017 Summit pilot was seen as a success with over 160 individuals including youth, industry and community members being part of it in person and over the NVSS Livestream YouTube channel. A grade 12 student, Candon Macfarlane, broadcast the event to share with the broader region and so the MC was able to pull questions from the online audience as well as those in attendance.

Grade 12 credit course, Venture Challenge

SD#91 will be introducing a brand new, first ever for the north, Entrepreneurship credit course in partnership with Young Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad (YELL) Canada, a registered charity which supports entrepreneurial thinking in young minds. This is unique course for local high school students will give them the opportunity to work as a team with business mentors from their communities in pitching their business model in an Inter-District venture challenge. This district-wide Venture Challenge will then lead the winning team to a provincial wide Venture Challenge competition.

Forward thinking education

“We want to be where education is going, not just where it’s always been. Our school district is strongly focused on innovation and integration. We are strengthening the culture of technology and entrepreneurship within our student population and introducing them to those untapped career opportunities which are not yet on their radar,” said Sagar Saxena, SD#91 Community Engagement and Partnerships Officer.

Problem solving skills

Although it is named ‘Tech and Entrepreneurial’ it is essentially exploring entrepreneurial thinking and why is it valuable for people who may not want to start a business. Developing entrepreneurial thinking is essentially developing problem solving skills which are extremely transferable and give students more career options which can be harnessed here in the north.

Quotes from presenters

“The first iCubed Tech and Entrepreneurship Summit in Vanderhoof was a success as a result of the hard work put in to accelerate growth and establish Prince George and Vanderhoof as the technology and innovation hub of the North. It was a great pleasure to see so many wonderful organizations and entrepreneurs step forward to inspire youth and encourage entrepreneurial thinking that will be the fuel of the region for future years to come. I’m excited to return for next year’s larger summit to see what innovative solutions will be born as a result of this collaborative effort!” says 19 year old Georgi Seretariuk of Searing Technology Inc.

“The hands on exposure, to technology and its applications, the students received was amazing. It was great to be involved in such an engaging group. Looking forward to the next one!” says Melissa Mjolsness, Senior Research Assistant, College of New Caledonia.

“Innovation Central was excited to collaborate with School District 91 on this inaugural event. We want to make sure that youth in our region are aware of career and entrepreneurial opportunities in technology and innovation, and know that they don’t have to leave to pursue them. It was fantastic to see some of our local innovators, who are already building new products and technologies in northern BC, give so generously of their time to tell their stories and hopefully inspire some of the students who attended,” says Matt Hutcheon, Executive Director of Innovation Central Society Incubator.

“I was very impressed with the school district as well as students for recognizing the value in talking about entrepreneurship at a young age. There is no better time to start thinking about how you can make your mark on the world than while still in the comfort of high school, and I think the community of Vanderhoof will benefit immensely from instilling that mindset into their youth,” says Terry Thiara, CEO of Rippl.ca

“It was a great opportunity for students and local community to see some cool innovations at work. Kudos to the organizers for an excellent and, I hope, very informative exhibit,” says Sorin Pasca, Research Associate – Applied Research and Innovation​, CNC.

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