Research hopes to get remote coastal communities off diesel-based power see more
Author: Travis Paterson
UVic draws $2.4M towards harvesting clean energy from the ocean
Research hopes to get remote coastal communities off diesel-based power
The influx of $2.4 million into clean energy is a stepping stone towards renewable energy alternatives for B.C.’s remote coastal communities and heavy-duty marine transportation companies.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson made the announcement at the University of Victoria on Thursday. About $1.4 million from the federally run Western Economic Diversification Canada will establish the Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery at UVic, which will strive to develop and commercialize wind, wave and tidal energy technologies.
“Clean energy is a critical piece of the [Canadian clean growth plan], the mechanisms are obviously different here than in Saskatchewan, and the marine side of it is something we’re very interested in,” Wilkinson said. “It’s an area still developing, it offers significant promises on both the West Coast and the East Coast, where they’re interested in tidal technologies.
“This type of technology offers the promise of being able to take [coastal communities] off diesel and put them on a renewable source.”
The other $1 million is coming from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Seaspan Shipyards, and will go to a green transportation research team at UVic. Mechanical engineer Zuomin Dong leads the team and will work with UVic’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems to find ways clean energy use can be implemented in the heavy-duty marine, mining and transportation sectors.
Brad Buckham, mechanical engineer and lead with PRIMED, said the $1.4 million is the latest of many grants and will continue ongoing research that will eventually help remote coastal communities, including Indigenous communities, move away from using diesel fuel generators to produce electricity.
Buckham said the more money they can put towards current research models now will save money for the communities, and companies, who eventually install the wind and ocean propulsion technologies to provide them with electricity.
Among the projects PRIMED has worked with are the wave monitoring buoys and a turbine that monitors wind performance.
There are several of the yellow wave monitoring buoys anchored in the Salish Sea and one off of Sombrio Beach. The wind turbine, on the other hand, is land based (mounted on a trailer) but will give way to ocean-based turbines, said Curran Crawford, a UVic associate professor and researcher with UVic’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems.
“Putting the turbines on the ocean gets them away from people and avoids the NIMBY [issue], plus there is a lot of wind offshore,” Crawford said.
As the costs of wind-produced power have come down, the West Coast of Vancouver Island is being eyed for turbines that either float, or are on a base driven below the sea, Cawford said.
“As we tackle the many challenges posed by climate change, our researchers are leading the way in sustainable energy research, working closely with governments, industry and community groups to foster clean growth and low-carbon economic development,” said UVic president Jamie Cassels. “We’re very grateful to the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Seaspan for their investments in this vital work, which responds to one of our most significant national and global challenges.”
Tech community members are invited to join these open discussions! see more
Software Engineering Research Seminars at UVic
A group of PhD graduate students at the University of Victoria run a weekly seminar to present and discuss current software engineering research. Presentations are conducted by UVic computer science/software engineering faculty, grad students, as well as the many visiting faculty and industry professionals that collaborate with the program. The seminars are held on Thursdays at 11am in the UVic Engineering/Computer Science building.
Members of the Victoria tech community are invited to join these open discussions! If you would like to attend, check the seminar website to see what's being presented each week or sign up for the mailing list: https://research-seminar.github.io/. If you have an idea for a seminar or would like to present something, please contact the organizers at email@example.com.
UVic provides FREE legal information to anyone with a business-related issue. see more
University of Victoria’s Business Law Clinic:
Free Legal Information for Your Business Needs
The University of Victoria’s Business Law Clinic provides FREE legal information to anyone with a business-related issue. This includes entrepreneurs, innovators, and members of the technology sector in the Greater Victoria Area.
Since 1998, the students that staff the Business Law Clinic have worked to meet the legal demands of the community, notably helping those who lack the resources to retain a lawyer. Every year, the Clinic services approximately 100 clients, each with their own unique business-legal needs. Law students of the Business Law Clinic work closely with clients to assess the inquiry, and provide legal information catered to the needs of the client. Previous topics have included:
Incorporation (eg. sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, etc)
Financing (eg. the different ways to obtain capital)
Charitable Registration (eg. the next steps for a society)
Intellectual Property Protection (eg. copyrights or trademarks)
Business Liability (eg. your exposure and risks)
Partnership Agreements (eg. necessity and expansion)
Employment Law (eg. the rights of an employer or employee)
The Business Law Clinic offers important educational opportunities for students entering the legal profession. Students of the Clinic benefit from developing their practical skills on client-file management, conducting effective interviews, and examining the diverse legal issues affecting their community. The students will find guidance in Michael Litchfield, an experienced business lawyer and director of the Clinic, as well as from the lawyers across British Columbia that have volunteered to mentor their future colleagues.
Students at the Business Law Clinic are not lawyers, and therefore cannot provide legal advice, legal opinion, nor assist in active litigation. Students may only provide legal information related to business. If you require business law information and are interested in our services, please contact the Business Law Clinic today!
The Clinic operates year-round, except for the months of April, August and December. For more information, visit the Clinic’s website at www.uvic.ca/law/jd/lawclinics/businessclinic. To book an appointment, contact the Clinic at 250-472-4522 or firstname.lastname@example.org
It was nearly five years into the development of what was initially titled Dollhouse... see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Michael D. Reid
Gaming guru Mattrick receives UVic honour
Don Mattrick grins as he recalls a classic example of his legendary persistence, and how it spawned a $5-billion franchise while he was president of worldwide studios for the Electronic Arts gaming company.
It was nearly five years into the development of what was initially titled Dollhouse, a passion project the ambitious business mogul was working on with game designer Will Wright.
Even though his executive team threatened to resign, he soldiered on and Dollhouse morphed into the hugely successful life-simulation video-game series The Sims.
“Literally, for five years someone would come into my office and say, ‘This is never going to ship! This is the dumbest product you’ve ever had,’” recalled the amiable tech titan at the University of Victoria Monday morning. Mattrick, who on Monday night received the 2017 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year award, was at UVic to inspire fourth-year Peter B. Gustavson School of Business entrepreneurship students.
“‘You have 75 full-time people working on this! All the rest of us are busy making a difference in our company,’” he said, recalling the reaction of some colleagues. “Does Will have compromising pictures of you?”
While executives accused Mattrick of having “this huge blind spot,” the Victoria-based entrepreneur’s tenacity paid off with a product that became one of the best-selling video games in history.
“You have to try and champion things,” said Mattrick, who has done plenty of championing since his teenage years when he offered to work for free at a ComputerLand store after unsuccessfully applying for a job there.
The Burnaby-raised visionary’s experiences inspired him to create Distinctive Software Inc., which would become Electronic Arts. So began a career turning startups into major businesses and setting the standard for video-game development during three decades in the technology sector.
Other career highlights include his tenure as CEO of Zynga, the social-media gaming company, and as president of Microsoft’s entertainment businesses, overseeing the growth of the Xbox console and its PC gaming businesses.
He has served on public and private boards, including the advisory board for the USC School of Cinematic Arts and is currently serving as co-chair of the Premier’s Technology Council.
As well, Mattrick is an honorary fellow with the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, and holds an honorary doctor of laws from Simon Fraser University.
While Mattrick answered questions about his successes, he wasn’t above acknowledging his missteps. He recalled the one that got away in the 1980s — Tetris.
“I’d seen the first prototype,” he said. “Three friends pulled me aside and said: ‘We could write this in three hours! You cannot pay this money to license this.”
He said he considers having passed on the tile-matching puzzle video game released in 1984 a mistake — albeit one he’d learn from — since it went on to become a $2-billion franchise.
“It’s overwhelming when you start something,” he said. “But it gets easier because you learn how to accept failure and success in the same way. Give yourself permission to fail.”
Without revealing the person’s identity, other than to quip it wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg, Mattrick said he just spoke with an “Internet gazillionaire” friend. He asked for advice on how to inspire students at UVic.
“He said: ‘Just kick them in the rear and tell them to go do it,’ ” Mattrick said with a laugh.
“There’s no perfect entry point. The benefits of doing it are going to teach you a lot more than the benefits of trying to make a perfect choice.”
Mattrick said he was fortunate to have some great coaches who taught him the importance of time management, setting priorities and how to think strategically.
“At the end of the day, it’s about people and the first person you’re managing is yourself,” he said. “Be resilient.”
He emphasized that starting a tech company is “a team sport” and that his experiences in the U.S. have confirmed that Canadian entrepreneurs are as talented and as capable of success.
“In the U.S., they’re just more brash and competitive,” said Mattrick, who added that “I’m a bit of a hermit” who happens to be “super-competitive” but likes to think things through before taking action.
When asked to name his proudest achievements, one of his answers took some students by surprise.
“I married exceptionally well,” he said, referring to his wife of 25 years Nanon de Gaspé Beaubien-Mattrick, president and co-founder of Beehive Holdings, the investment firm that supports women entrepreneurs.
“My wife speaks five languages, is a literature and business school grad. She pulls me aside all the time and says: ‘I can’t believe you said that in a public setting. You are such a geek!’
“She’d remind me that most people wouldn’t care about the math. They’d care about the emotion.”
A DISTINGUISHED LIST
Previous winners of the University of Victoria Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year award
• 2016: Linda Hasenfratz, CEO Linamar
• 2015: David Foster, businessman, philanthropist and record producer
• 2014: Dennis Washington, founder of The Washington Companies
• 2013: Brandt C. Louie, chairman of London Drugs
• 2012: Dennis (Chip) Wilson, founder of Lululemon Athletica
• 2011: J.R. Shaw, founder of Shaw Communications
• 2010: Alex Campbell Sr., co-founder of Thrifty Foods
• 2009: Sir Terence Matthews, chair of Mitel Corporation, and chair and founder of Wesley Clover
• 2008: Clive Beddoe, founding shareholder in WestJet
• 2007: David Black, president of Black Press
• 2006: Gwyn Morgan, former president and CEO of EnCana Corp.
• 2005: Dave Ritchie, chair and former CEO of Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers
• 2004: Jeff Mallett, former president and chief operating officer of Yahoo!
TeamPages was just an idea that Nikolas and Mike came up with for a class assignment at UVic... see more
Author: Mike Tan
TeamPages joins Active Network
What a day! It's official, TeamPages is joining Active Network :) Super excited about the future of TeamPages as part of the Active family!
It’s crazy to think that 10 years, ago TeamPages was just an idea that Nikolas Laufer-Edel and I came up with for a class assignment at the UVic Entrepreneurship Program. And that shortly after writing that business plan, with guidance and mentorship from Jonathan Kerr, that business plan ended winning the IDC Challenge and giving us our first $10,000 in seed capital.
A couple months after winning the IDC Challenge, in October 2006, Adam Palmblad, Jonathan Kerr and I decided to take the plunge and leave our other tech jobs to work on TeamPages full-time. And 2 months later we had converted my apartment into our office (hoisting whiteboards into the apartment from the balcony cause they wouldn’t fit in the elevator), launched our first beta of TeamPages for UVic Intramurals, and raised our first $50,000 from friends and family (instead of getting Christmas presents that December). A big thank you to Adam’s parents, Jon’s parents and uncle, my parents, William Oliver, and Nikolas Laufer-Edel for believing and investing in us early!
I still remember the first day we launched the site and we made $0.35 cents from Google Adsense and to celebrate we ended buying beers and a pizza which costed us $20 (which at the time of earning $0.35 a day would take us almost 2 months to pay off).
We were very fortunate early on to have an amazing Board of Advisors (Steven Dagg, Chris Taylor, Tony Melli, Robert Bennett, Eric Sei-in Remy Jordan, and Stacy Kuiack) who helped us stay focus on the right things and avoid many pitfalls early on. Thank you for of your wisdom and support over the years, the early morning meetings, the late night phone calls to go over term sheets and shareholders agreements, and always being there for us even during our most challenging times.
A few months after launching the site, we completely lucked out when Kyle Vucko introduced us to Hannes Blum and Boris Wertz who along with Burda Digital Ventures led our Seed Round and joined our Board of Directors. Over the years I have learned so much from the two of you and have the upmost respect for you as mentors, entrepreneurs, and investors. The two of you are two of the smartest, hardest working, and supportive people I have ever met. Thank you for showing me what true hustle and hard work looks like, the importance of tracking metrics early on, that success doesn’t come from a magic silver bullet but a lot of hard work and incremental improvements that add up over time. Thank you for all of your support, wisdom, and much needed tough love throughout the years.
And shortly after raising our Seed Round, Derek Story joined us a co-founder and VP Sales. Since my departure as CEO in 2012, Derek and Adam took the leadership reins and have been doing a fantastic job ever since. Without their dedication, grit, and hustle, TeamPages wouldn’t be where it is today. Words can’t really express my gratitude and respect to the both of you. Thank you Derek and Adam (and Tracy Wilkinson)!
The last 10 years has truly been a roller coaster of ups and downs, highs and lows. It’s been amazing journey along the way and one that (after a lot of rest and incorporating all the lessons learned from the mistakes made) I would definitely do again :)
A special thank you to Adam's parents and my parents who provided a much needed bridge investment in 2011 that helped us turn the corner and save the company. Thank you for believing in us even in the darkest of moments.
Thank you to all of our wonderful investors (names I'll keep private but deeply thank and cherish) for all of your support and patience over the last 10 years.
Thank you to all the amazing team members and friends who made this journey possible and for all of your support over the years: Steve Brown, Helen Wilkinson, Mark Aquino, Matthew Langlois, Minxing Wang, William Oliver, Alex Shipillo, Lesley Bidlake, Naomi Buell, Ian Douglas, Eric Brewis, Joshua Sendoro, Greg Gunn, Allan Kumka, Willem Brosz, Arturo Gomez, Sean Taylor, Oleg Matvejev, David Mikula, Jeremy Rose, Landon Trybuch, Jacob Patenaube, Juri Totaro, Jesse Appleby, William Eckhart
A big thank you to Arik Broadbent and Mike Rawluk at Farris, Geoff Dittrich at Segev, and Sang-Kiet Ly at KPMG for helping us close this deal!
A massive thank you to both the tech communities in Victoria and Vancouver for all the support over the years. Without the help VIATEC (Dan Gunn, Robert Bennett, Tony Melli), IRAP (Martyn Ward), and New Ventures BC (Angie Schick), TeamPages would be here today.
And lastly, thank you to Kelly Luu for being the love of my life and all your unconditional love and support through this journey. You have always been there for me and I can't thank you enough.
I’m really excited about the next chapter and what’s in store for TeamPages at Active.
Thank you! And stay tuned :)
Don Mattrick, who remains a B.C.-based investment leader, has been awarded the honour see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
UVic selects Don Mattrick as distinguished entrepreneur of year
The man who helped bring Microsoft to Victoria, and who once led Electronic Arts and gaming company Zynga, has been named the 2017 Gustavson School of Business 2017 distinguished entrepreneur of the year.
Don Mattrick, who remains a B.C.-based investment leader, has been awarded the honour that recognizes a business leader who has achieved success through his or her acumen and entrepreneurial spirit.
“We're so pleased to recognize Don as our 2017 recipient. We’re especially excited to honour a resident of our city,” said Peter Gustavson, chair of the selection committee. “Don is an icon in the technology and gaming space, and represents the drive and entrepreneurial spirit that is supported at the School of Business."
Mattrick has served on several public and private boards, including the advisory board for the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He is co-chair of the Premier’s Technology Council.
Mattrick has a long history in the technology sector, including stints at the top of Electronic Arts and Zynga. As president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, he championed the establishment of a Microsoft game design studio in downtown Victoria.
That studio closed in 2013, after two years of operation.
Mattrick was responsible for leading the team that grew Microsoft’s Xbox 360 adoption by 700 per cent to nearly 75 million consoles, and grew the Xbox Live membership from six million to nearly 50 million subscribers in 41 countries.
“There’s no doubt that Don has enjoyed a storied career thus far, and I can think of few Victorians with a more distinguished entrepreneurial record,” said Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council.
Mattrick, who was raised in Vancouver, is married with two children. He will receive the award at the distinguished entrepreneur of the year gala on May 8.
BC's tech sector has broken an employment record with more than 101,000 ppl now working in its ranks see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
B.C.’s tech job force bigger than mining, oil and gas, forestry
British Columbia’s technology sector has broken an employment record with more than 101,000 people now working in its ranks.
Data Wednesday from the province show the tech sector — which employs about 20,000 in Greater Victoria — employs more people around B.C. than the mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined.
According to B.C. Stats’ Profile of the British Columbia Technology Sector: 2016 Edition, technology employs 101,700 who earn a weekly average salary of $1,590 — 75 per cent higher than the average wage in B.C. and higher than the Canadian technology sector average of $1,480 per week.
“For the fifth year in a row, B.C. has seen significant growth in its diverse technology industry. We have more technology companies than ever, with more technology workers earning higher wages than the Canadian average,” said Amrik Virk, minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.
“Our strategy is further creating the conditions that are helping the sector continue to grow and thrive.”
B.C.’s tech sector, which has more than 9,900 companies, also leads the country in terms of job growth. Employment in the sector rose 2.9 per cent over the previous year, surpassing B.C.’s overall employment growth of 2.5 per cent and national tech-sector employment growth of 1.1 per cent.
Technology now employs about 4.9 per cent of B.C.’s workforce and is the third-largest tech workforce in Canada.
The gross domestic product of the province’s tech sector grew by 2.4 per cent in 2015, contributing $14.1 billion to B.C.’s overall economic output. At the same time tech revenue increased five per cent to a record $26.3 billion.
“I think it is wonderful news and a long time in the making,” said Victoria tech veteran Eric Jordan, CEO of Codename Entertainment. “This didn’t happen overnight, but is the result of decades of effort from many people and organizations in our community.”
Jordan said Victoria’s tech community has a lot going for it. “Victoria continues to be a great place to build technology companies, including video-game companies. We are large enough to have a variety of critical supports, such as educational institutions like UVic and Camosun, as well as easy access to key hubs such as Vancouver, Seattle, Toronto and San Francisco,” he said.
New UVic course offers tips for navigating through technology integration in Business see more
New UVic course offers tips for navigating through technology integration in Business...
Managing in the Digital Economy: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
VICTORIA, BC – This January, the University of Victoria’s Division of Continuing Studies is launching a new course, entitled Managing in the Digital Economy.
Designed for working business professionals, this online course examines how the evolution of information technology and systems is rapidly changing today’s business environment.
Instructor, Nav Bassi, says, “This course [aims to] demystify the opportunities and challenges created by technology and provide guidance on how to leverage technology for business success, while mitigating risk.”
It’s important to note that this is not an IT course; it is a business course that business leaders, managers and decision-makers from any industry will find applicable.
The course will explain what the term “digital economy” means and discuss some of the challenges that can arise from it. Participants will learn how to make decisions on applying technology to address business needs, while also understanding and managing the inherent risks.
Director of Business & Management Programs, Richard Mimick, observes, “Although this is the first time we’re offering this course, it’s obviously a topic that resonates within the business community, as we are already seeing better than average enrollment numbers.”
Managing in the Digital Economy begins January 16 and is offered exclusively online, convenient for working professionals.
Since its inception in 1963, the Division of Continuing Studies (DCS) has been an integral part of the University of Victoria, providing adult and continuing education programming. Partnering with all UVic Faculties, it provides stimulating, high quality education opportunities to local as well as international learners.
For more information, visit: https://continuingstudies.uvic.ca/business-technology-and-public-relations/courses/managing-in-the-digital-economy
Business & Management Programs
Continuing Studies at UVic
Tel: (250) 721-8073
At Giftbit, when I sat at a table doing a code review, I wasn’t one of the few females in the room.. see more
Author: Aldyn Chwelos (Computer Science student — Outreach coordinator for UVic Women in Engineering and Computer Science)
Unconscious Bias in Tech: Why Women leave their Engineering Careers
In 2014, women held only 26 percent of computing jobs. This number drops further when we look at other underrepresented groups such as racial minorities. For example, black women hold only 3 percent of all computing occupations and Latinas only 1 percent. What’s worse is that, due to the male-dominated, exclusionary environment that permeates so much of the tech field, many of these women will not stay. The Harvard Business Review determined that 56 percent of private sector technical women leave the industry at some point in their career. A one-dimensional and unwelcoming culture is bleeding diversity from the tech sector.
A few weeks back, I was talking with some friends, and one of them asked if we’d ever experienced the discrimination or outsider feeling that is mentioned so often in respect to the tech field. For most of us, it was a resounding “yes” but explaining our answer was complicated. It was not a particular moment, course, or job. It’s still just that “old boys club” feel, one friend said. It was not something tangible that we could point to and say that, right there, that is the problem. It’s how during the first week of classes a software engineering student began grilling me on my credentials, asking what languages I knew, classes I had taken, AP programming exams I had written, textbooks I would read, projects I had built. I had not even been to one lecture, and already I felt behind. It’s when a few classmates were determined to explain to me, and to the only other girl in our project group, what “for loops” were despite our repeated assurances that we knew how they worked. It’s hearing comments like “If women do make it through their degrees they tend to do very well” or that we “are better at the Human Computer Interaction and design side.” What people think are compliments just remind us how few of us are in tech and that we are expected to fill specific spaces in the industry.
In one computer science class, the professor assigned seven-hour group tests that ran until midnight. Most groups would meet on campus to complete the tests, often not leaving the computer science building until well after midnight. For many students, this was after their buses had stopped running. Several recent sexual assaults on campus meant that walking 30 minutes home or across campus alone at 1 am was unnerving at the least. This must have come to the professor’s attention since a message was sent out recommending that all female students get home by 10 and travel with a buddy. In practice, women had to choose between fully contributing to a group project or feeling safe getting home.
According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), moments like these can be attributed to an unconscious bias we all share. Our brains use shortcuts called heuristics to help us make sense of the world. These are necessary because without them we would be unable to process the incredible amounts of data we absorb every minute. Heuristics compare new information to patterns we have seen before. For example, if you see an older woman she may remind you of your grandmother and you might assume then that she’s very sweet and friendly. Heuristics are the reason we can make quick decisions, and they save the brain from having to run costly algorithms every time we face a choice. Unfortunately, these shortcuts are often based on stereotypes and lead to many unintentionally skewed perspectives.
These biases go beyond making minorities feel unwelcome in the industry to actually affecting performance. When it comes to development, someone’s code feels like a separate entity, something that speaks for itself and would be outside the boundaries of these stereotypes. A recent study of Github, an online repository where developers host and contribute to projects, revealed otherwise. Researchers determined that, when gender was unidentifiable, women and men’s code was approved at comparable percentages — in fact, women performed slightly higher than men. However, when factoring in gender, the acceptance rates of women’s code dropped by 10 percent.
Further, the knowledge that these biases exist can be damaging all on its own. For example, a professor once pointed out to the entire class that a student was not just the only woman, but that she was the only woman of color. This was a prof who would go on feminist rants in class and who I happened to admire. She was attempting to explain why she wanted the student to succeed. Unfortunately, while comments like these are intended to be supportive, more often they leave students feeling isolated.
Moments like these can have damaging effects as they contribute to something called Stereotype Threat, which is the phenomenon that the knowledge of negative stereotypes can decrease performance. In a study where young women were asked to complete a math test and a career aptitude test, women that were shown sexist images beforehand performed worse on the math test and were less likely to show interest in science and technology related fields. NCWIT states that Stereotype Threat results in decreased motivation, avoidance of technical leadership positions, and the devaluation of one’s ideas and abilities. It’s why women with B grades in computer science are much more likely to leave the program than men, despite the fact that they are still outperforming a significant portion of their peers.
Understanding and being aware of biases and Stereotype Threat is an integral part of sparking change in the community. However, as we move towards a more inclusive industry, I find it easy to get weighed down by all the things that aren’t great. It’s important to note that while the numbers may be changing slowly, we are making progress. The improvements, like the problems themselves, can sometimes be subtle and hard to see.
Not long after I began my work experience term at Giftbit, I remember excitedly explaining to my girlfriend that “I don’t notice my gender at work.” Since my first year at university when I took a gender studies class filled with women, I had been acutely aware of how few women there were in tech. Somehow in the last couple of months, I’d stopped noticing it. At Giftbit, when I sat at a table doing a code review, I wasn’t one of the few females in the room, I was just another employee; I wasn’t a female developer, I was simply a developer. It was incredibly refreshing. It’s a feeling I have heard echoed by various friends and peers during their experiences in the Victoria tech sector. It’s hard to know just how much an environment can affect you until you experience something different.
As an executive member of the Women in Engineering and Computer Science (WECS) Club at the University of Victoria, I often get approached by recruiters and faculty looking for advice on gender issues. Often, I get asked what women are looking for in a workplace environment. They are all aware they have a diversity issue, and they are looking for the secret to fix it. My go-to answer has historically been, rather unhelpfully, “Just don’t be assholes.”
Common sense and general human decency can solve a lot, but as I have learned over the years, it takes a bit more to get to a place where we all feel welcome. It takes a sustained conscious effort to overcome pervasive cultural habits. As an employer or faculty member, there are ways you can try and create a more welcoming space. One major way is to be clear about your company policy around diversity and then stand by it. Simply correcting the use of “he” when referring to generic developers or politely questioning a sexist joke goes a long way in creating a safer environment. It should not be the job of an underrepresented member to educate their peers. Always being the one to call others out on their slip-ups is both exhausting and potentially alienating. Personally, I will often not say anything for fear of being that person. However, when someone else catches it and corrects it, it’s incredibly refreshing and makes me feel like I am accepted.
While the responsibility to improve the culture should not belong to those who are being oppressed, they have valuable insight, information, and ideas that we should not ignore. As an employer or faculty member, try and have an open door policy. Let your employees and students know that they can always talk to you about any issues. They may not, and that is okay, but just letting them know you want to listen can make them feel valued. One of the things I appreciate about my job is that my boss often asks for our feedback and schedules time to listen. For conversations like these to be effective, rapport and privacy are essential. There’s a difference between calling someone out in a way that makes them feel stigmatized and ensuring that everyone feels acknowledged and respected.
In October, I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. As I sat in an arena with over 14 000 women, I felt a mix of excitement and awe. The energy in the room was a bubbly anticipation. You could see it written all over our faces: we were not used to this. Over the course of the conference, they held quite a few meetups for specific minority groups. I attended the Queer Lunch and spent an hour chatting with lovely people about work, school, and how to go about getting gender neutral bathrooms in an office. Conference meet-ups like these are important as they allow for discourse that often would not occur in a tech space. Being able to connect with people that share similar interests, experiences, and struggles is an important part of promoting inclusion and empowering minority groups.
While I was in Houston for the conference, I had the opportunity to attend a party for senior women in technology. I spent the night chatting with developers from Twitter, Amazon, Slack, and Paypal. These were women of varying races and backgrounds, women who had been in the industry for years and some that could not have been much older than me. Most of the technical leaders I engage with in my life are male. These are men I admire, respect and have learned so much from. However, there is something unique and validating about seeing women in those roles and being able to identify with them in a new way. Role models are an important part of breaking down the stereotypes that surround minorities in tech, and they are pretty damn inspiring.
While the tech industry has made improvements, its lack of diversity remains a systemic problem that requires both time and a shift in perspective and practice. As the users of technology are infinitely varied, so too must the builders become infinitely diverse. Technology belongs to us all. It’s about time the industry reflected that.
As an active contributor to Victoria’s game development community, Dylan was the first recipient... see more
Source: University of Victoria
“I could feel the electricity in the room … see sparks shooting with every idea generated.” Dylan Gedig and the UVic Game Dev Club helped create that energy. They put on the Victoria installation of the Global Game Jam, a worldwide event that brings together artists, designers, musicians, programmers and writers for 48 hours of collective creativity.
Alumnus and CEO of Codename Entertainment Eric Jordan knows working together like this is reflexive in Victoria’s vibrant technology sector. He brought VIATEC, DigiBC, OneBitLabs, KANO/APPS, InLight Entertainment, Electronic Arts Canada and Codename Entertainment on board to create a scholarship for computer science students who mirror that collaborative nature. As an active contributor to Victoria’s game development community, Dylan was the obvious first recipient. He shared this passion at UVic by volunteering with the course union and teaching coding to new students.
Dylan laid the groundwork for a career in video game development through UVic’s Co-op program. This scholarship gave him confidence for the next step. Under Eric’s mentorship, Dylan launched a video game publishing company and his first product will be released before his convocation ceremony.
“That recognition meant a lot to me,” he says of the scholarship. “I wouldn’t have started my own company if the local scene wasn’t so supportive. As a new member of that community, I’m excited to do what I can to help develop new talent.”
Commonly referred to as ICE, it will now be known as the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre. see more
The University of Victoria’s Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs has a new lease on life and a new name under a partnership with Coast Capital Savings Credit Union announced Tuesday.
The centre, commonly referred to as ICE, will now be known as the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre (CCSIC) and will expand its services with an injection of $450,000 in cash from the Vancouver-based credit union.
“This partnership creates new opportunities for our students and faculty to address social and economic challenges, and have impact in B.C. and beyond,” said David Castle, UVic’s vice-president research.
The CCSIC will now expand its role to include offering seed money for new ventures and prototype developments, an entrepreneurship scholarship, an additional annual business plan competition and co-op opportunities for students to work on ideas.
Money will also be available for other costs related to developing an idea, such as software, tools, workshop rental and third-party consultation.
Founded in 2012 by the Gustavson School of Business, ICE has helped launch more than nine companies, brought 21 clients to the “incubation-stage” and met with more than 750 students, staff, faculty and alumni.
More broadly UVic has helped with the creation of more than 60 companies, received almost 900 invention disclosures and filed more than 400 national and international patents.
The centre’s new focus will help entrepreneurs develop products or services to a more mature stage before being presented to other incubator programs and venture capitalists.
“Coast Capital Savings’ partnership with UVic recognizes that young entrepreneurs are not only at the front edge of innovation, but their business success will ultimately result in job creation, economic growth and more financial well-being for all of us,” said Coast Capital president Don Coulter.
Coast Capital has more than 530,000 members and about $17 billion under management.