Creating & Nurturing a Maker Culture

Creating & nurturing a maker culture

Can a Maker Culture help bring economic diversity and sustainability rural communities need?

Over the past couple of decades our region, along with so many others in rural British Columbia, has been faced with tremendous challenges seeing traditional industries such as mining and forestry diminishing, taking jobs and people along with them.

As a result, it’s been essential to look to diversifying from that of a resources based economy to one that encompasses other lucrative sources of education, jobs, opportunities, wealth, and ultimately, sustainability.  Communities throughout the province are looking to the New Economy, or the knowledge-based economy, as the answer to closing mills and mines, embracing technology to not only add new economic drivers but revolutionize and revitalize the old.

And while we may look to all the big tech players; Silicon Valley and our British Columbia equivalent, Silcon Valley North – Vancouver – to help inspire the way, providing for the vital foundation of opportunity; the narrative is really taking shape and expanding with boots on the ground in rural communities like Trail, Nelson, Revelstoke and others providing for the essentials to a more Maker Culture approach.

What rural towns and small cities are recognizing is that not only does the talent exist in these places, but they’re eager to create new and vibrant opportunities lending to the long-term sustainability to new industry, but also contributing to the innovative change of those existing.

The key to this forward momentum is not big tech, not at all.  It is the fast-emerging movement of the Maker.  These communities encourage a maker spirit, and ultimately, a Maker Culture, providing for innovation at a very hands-on level, providing the tools, education and support to propel innovation and manufacturing, hand-in-hand with a tech startup, entrepreneurial energy.

Who are these Makers?

A Maker Culture draws innovators from industry, such as engineers and machinists, but also anyone else with an idea or concept interested in seeing it brought to life; the curious, the imaginative; and creating an environment in which they can flourish.  These are the Makers:  an illustrious group of diverse individuals who make up and support the Maker Culture and who share many of the characteristics of those we call innovators.

These folk see failure as part of the innovation journey, understanding that they learn so much from mistakes.   Makers see the possibilities in technology and embrace it.

Makers enjoy the challenge and problem solving of a daunting task and don’t stop when the going gets tough.   Similar to accepting failure, they understand that to get to the top of the proverbial mountain they’ll need to amass knowledge and experience.  They set aside time to learn and fail.   These are the owners of ‘what if, can we make it better, I wonder how we could…’ – curious and innovative thinking!  

Provide the facility to nurture & develop the foundation – the Makers Space!

A space for makers brings the curious, the innovators, the inventors out of their silos and into a place together: growing, mentoring, learning, developing, sharing, fulfilling their curiosity and innovation.  This is where magic happens!

A maker space, a foundational element in the Maker Culture for most communities, fosters curiosity, collaboration, tinkering, and iterative learning, which in turn leads to better thinking through better questioning.  This leads to determination, independent and creative problem solving.

Community is the defining element of the Maker Culture on both a local and international scale.  It embodies the following qualities: co-working, collaboration, teaching, learning and an open sharing of ideas. It also invites cross-generational and life-long learning encouraging individuals with a range of expertise to share their passions.

The greatest assets to any region’s economy are living and working right here.  With innovations and ideas that range from developing a new wobbler conveyor to be used at the Teck smelter in Trail to a local small business owner creating a new business 3D printing beautiful, biodegradable pet urns and so much more, the ability to bring an idea for a new product or service to fruition with the support of the community is huge.

Facilities like ours here at MIDAS, support the expansion and development of local small and medium-sized companies’ strengths as they grow their businesses as well as individuals seeking the education, tools and equipment to explore the potential of their ideas further.

Through collaboration, adopting technology, and creating new and marketable products while promoting skills training opportunities in digital fabrication and metallurgical technology for entrepreneurs, company personnel and students the MIDAS Fab Lab is fully invested in promoting a Maker Culture.

Experience the Maker Culture for yourself – check out our course calendar HERE!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Maker Movement: DIY, Hands-on, Innovation In Action!

maker movement fostered at MIDAS

There is a movement afoot and, with the help of education, tools and equipment (such as welcomes you at MIDAS!) to more easily and cost-efficiently bring ideas to life, it’s gaining tremendous steam!

The Maker Movement – or in more familiar terms, Do-It-Yourself – is growing in participation in schools, communities and industry throughout the province, and, of course, beyond.  What makes this a movement, rather than simply the act of puttering in one’s garage, is the resources, equipment and materials available to support it in ways we’ve never seen before.

This movement is grassroots innovation and it’s being enthusiastically embraced and fostered in more and more communities, nurturing an ever growing number of people, creative and curious.

The digital age has really blown the lid off what was formerly tinkering, or on a larger scale, inventing and innovating with significant effort and resources to bring an idea to prototype, using specific manufacturers located by and large overseas.  Inventing and innovating, as it has previously been known, has required very specialized software and fabrication equipment, not easily accessible either in terms of cost or location and has made it prohibitive for potential innovators to see a project through to completion let alone market.

With technology expanding as it is, so fast and with such scope, the creative process of invention and innovation is being transformed.  The access we have to imaging, scanning, drafting and other specialized software as well as the fabrication equipment to translate plans into tangible, surprisingly high quality, prototypes allows and encourages Maker creativity and invention unlike any time before.

MIDAS, and our MIT certified facilities, is a great example.  As part of this movement gathering momentum, every day we see makers contributing to what is becoming their own market ecosystem, developing incredible new products and services. The combination of ingenious makers and innovative technologies such as the Raspberry Pi mini-computer and Arduino micro-controller along with 3D printing are driving innovation in manufacturing, engineering, industrial design, hardware technology and education.

Makerspaces are cropping up in communities big and small. Offering everything from Repair Cafes – where makers offer up their talents to fix and repurpose everything from computers to mobile phones to toaster ovens – to workshops on soldering and Arduino to imaging software education to actual fabrication and prototyping equipment, as we do here.

Inquiry-based and more hands-on education trends are beginning to trend as well.  Schools, for pre-schoolers through secondary students, are offering more and more resources and opportunities to explore and nurture their curiosity.  Through electronics and technology, young people are challenging their own creativity, innovating unlike ever before through coding, robotics and other fun and hands-on ways of expanding their knowledge and experience in the various facets of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (Design), Mathematics, or STEAM.

While many makers consider themselves simply hobbyists or enthusiasts they are a vibrant and fundamental source of innovation, embracing creativity, developing new products and generating value in the Maker community.  In fact, it’s not unusual for some of these Makers to take the leap as entrepreneurs and start companies.  We see it all the time!

While there are several industry professionals who take advantage of the incredible Maker opportunities at MIDAS, it’s not necessary to be an engineer or techie to enjoy all a space like MIDAS offers.  Check out our #madeatMIDAS features to see the examples of ordinary people making extraordinary things.

That’s what’s so great about the Maker Movement: accessibility!  You don’t even need to bring an idea… just your imagination and curiosity.  The ideas will flow soon enough!

What can MIDAS can help you make!  Check out our calendar of courses HERE!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

Introduction to MIDAS from MIDAS Fab Lab on Vimeo.

MIDAS Course: Markforged 3D Printer

markforged 3d printer MIDAS course

The printer in action. The larger tube feeds plastic filament while the smaller feeds carbon fibre.

Note:  This is a MIDAS certification course.

Sometimes traditional 3D printing just doesn’t cut it – that’s where the Mark Two from Markforged comes in. The Mark Two is an industrial strength 3D printer here at the MIDAS Lab and using continuous fiber inlays together with high-performance nylons, it creates parts that can compete with metal!  The Markforged Mark Two is simply an incredible piece of engineering.

Markforged Mark Two:  High strength parts printed overnight.

Upcoming course April 9, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

The MarkForged Mark Two course at MIDAS

A beautiful minimalistically designed and user-friendly desktop machine offering a touchscreen display and a print volume of 120 x 132 x 154mm. Pick your reinforcement and plastics, and remove the time, hassle and design iterations so you can put your parts to use right off the printer, engineered with the right material for any job.

The Mark Two prints with two printheads: one builds nylon parts, and the other is a revolutionary, new composite print head to reinforce those parts with continuous fiber.

By reinforcing your parts with composite fiber while 3D printing them, The Mark Two achieves unparalleled strength, stiffness and durability in its printed parts.  The Mark Two prints materials that no other 3D printer can, like Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass and Kevlar.

3D printing with composite fiber is as much about the software as it is about the unique technology of the printers.  This printer comes with MarkForged’s browser-based 3D printing software, Eiger, which is user friendly, and runs on any computer system, making your printed part flexible or strong in a process that is both easy and intuitive.  The Markforged Eiger software is both powerful and easy to use in your browser, importing your drawing and slicing it for high strength printing.

Markforged Mark Two Eiger software

The touchscreen makes it easy to connect to wifi, start prints and manage your printer.  The Mark Two print bed clicks into place with 10 micron accuracy – allowing you to pause a print, remove the bed, add components, click the bed back in and then continue the print in the exact same position.

Upcoming course April 9, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

Markforged Mark Two Course at MIDAS

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Fun Friday! Raspberry Pi DIY Laptop With A Little Trotec Laser Cutter!

 

Raspberry Pi Trotec Laser Cutter DIY laptopWhat do you get when you combine the magic of a little Raspberry Pi with a wood casing courtesy a Trotec 120Watt Laser Cutter?  One heckuva DIY laptop!

Between the Raspberry Pi, loaded with powerful capabilities in such a tiny little package and the Trotec (upcoming Trotec 120Watt Laser Cutter course April 20th!) making short work of model making, industrial design, prototyping and just about any kind of DIY application, this creative idea is a great example of an integration of both.

Trotec Laser Cutter and Raspberry Pi DIY laptopThis project also relies upon a 3D printed component (Ultimaker 3D Printer course, April 13th!in the design for the screen hinge, but the rest of the PlyTop is cut out of a three 2′ x 4′ sheets of 1/8″ Baltic birch plywood.

The Plytop base and top are held together with a fair amounts of translucent wood glue.

This design uses a Peripad II B Touchpad, apparently the only self contained touch pad close to the size of a normal laptop trackpad at a decent price. It sits neatly in the Plytop shell and works just fine out of the box with the Raspberry Pi 3. Plug ’em in and they behave like your typical trackpad.

The Waveshare 10.1 is the best LCD screen on the market that includes a form fitting HDMI interface driver, powered through USB. These screens come attached to a laser cut acrylic base and some cheap HDMI and USB cables.

The monitor is affixed with some very brittle plastic screws and nuts and will require an HDMI cable with a very low connector profile (Monoprice cable) to best fit into the Waveshare’s port once it’s installed in the top shell.

If you’d like to see this project coming together click HERE.

If you’d like to see all the plans and ingredients to make this neat little device click HERE!

 

 

Plytop DIY laptop - Raspberry Pi Trotec laser cutter

 

 

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Redefining Teck’s By-Products

Trail Operations partners with MIDAS to explore new ways to create value from slag

Metallurgical slags, by-products of Teck’s lead-zinc smelting and refining complex in Trail, B.C., are at the centre of a three-year research project led by the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Graduate students are looking at ways to extract and refine valuable rare elements from the slag, which can be used  commercially in semiconductors and other electronic applications.

Much of this is unfolding at MIDAS (Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies), a fabrication lab located in Trail, where this project is able to flourish, along with other technical opportunities heating up in the region.

A Centre for Regional Innovation

From the outside, MIDAS could be another retail shop in a strip of small businesses, but inside, technology and innovation are at the forefront. The applied research, commercialization and digital fabrication training facility services the metallurgical sector that clusters around Teck’s Trail Operations. MIDAS makes advanced manufacturing technology—including 3D printing—accessible to many in West Kootenay, B.C.

MIDAS, a public-private enterprise initiated by the Kootenay Association of Science & Technology (KAST) and Fenix Advanced Materials, opened in 2016 to leverage the region’s technical talent, commercialize new products and technologies, and diversify the local economy.

“Part of the rationale for building MIDAS here in Trail is the proximity to Teck’s Trail Operations,” explains Amber Hayes, project director for MIDAS. Science & Technology (KAST) and Fenix Advanced Materials, opened in 2016 to leverage the region’s technical talent, commercialize new products and technologies, and diversify the local economy.

Regional companies use the facility and its equipment to supplement their business. For example, manufacturers can digitally print test prototypes in plastic before creating their products in wood or metal, training programs can be downloaded and accessed virtually, and aging equipment can be reverse-engineered. These disruptive technologies are not only being accessed by engineers, but also by resident artists, students and entrepreneurs.

“There is also a strong material stewardship opportunity with MIDAS for Trail Operations,” says Greg Richards, Superintendent, Knowledge Management, Trail Operations (pictured below). Greg is also a metallurgical engineer and serves as Chair of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society’s Metallurgical Committee, which works to advance business development and economic strength in Trail and surrounding areas.

“Being able to provide our by-products to MIDAS improves our ability to maximize the value of our materials across their life cycle while providing economic development opportunities for other companies and our region,” adds Greg.

When the facility was being commissioned, MIDAS also took the opportunity to gain critical safety expertise from Trail Operations.

Dallas Cain, Trail Operations’ Superintendent of Health and Safety, together with Chris D’Odorico, Manager of Health and Safety, supported MIDAS in developing the safety program for the site, which includes equipment operator training, lock-out procedures and facility safety management.

“MIDAS provided a real locus for the ideas that had been generated around regional metallurgical technology and innovation,” says Greg, recalling the number of discussions and attempts at something like MIDAS over the years. “I believe that MIDAS was the missing piece that we needed to help advance opportunities in our area.”

Originally posted at Teck Connect.

MIDAS Course: Roland MonoFab SRM-20 Mini Milling Machine

MIDAS course - Roland MonoFab SRM-20 Mini Milling Machine

Prototyping made easy!

Create realistic 3D prototypes that are virtually identical to production parts.  The Roland MonoFab SRM-20 Mini Milling Machine offers compact size and powerful functionality for production ready, realistic parts and prototypes.

The Roland MonoFab SRM-20 incorporates innovative features, including a new spindle, collet, circuit boards and control software. The result is a leap forward in milling precision, speed and ease of use. The SRM-20 can precision mill a wide range of materials, including modeling wax, chemical wood, foam, acrylic, poly acetate, ABS and PCBs .

The SRM-20’s strengths lie in providing outstanding accuracy and smooth finished surfaces. With its new milling spindle, collet, circuit board and firmware, the SRM-20 delivers maximum speed and precision in a small package.  Optional collets extend the mill’s capability with a wide range of end mill shapes and sizes, ideal for creating beautiful finishes and intricate details.

Upcoming course March 26, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

MIDAS course: Roland MonoFabTaking advantage of more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing 3D devices, the evolutionary SRM-20 desktop milling machine incorporates several innovative subtractive rapid prototyping (SRP) features to meet the needs of a new era.

Engineered for optimum efficiency and productivity, the SRM-20 is a next-generation desktop mill that boasts a micro-step motor drive system for clean and precise contours and a phenomenal feed rate that’s two times faster than previous generations.

Upcoming course March 26, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

 

 

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Fun Friday: Remote Controlled Car With Raspberry Pi & Bluetooth

Remote Controlled Car Using-Raspberry-Pi-and-Bluetooth

Credit card sized and jam packed with capabilities, the Raspberry Pi can function as a proper desktop computer, to build smart devices or to just have fun bringing new life to otherwise everyday items or old toys.

The Pi was originally intended to be a microcomputer to teach children coding. Its scope has since expanded as hobbyists and engineers realized how much could be achieved with the small device, making it one of the most popular technology items in the world.

This easy remote controlled car project, takes advantage of the little computer’s seamless wireless capabilities, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing a smart phone remote control of the driving.

The car selected is an RF toy car with moving left-right steering feature. The original RF circuit has been replaced with that of the Raspberry Pi. You can use any toy car that has two DC Motors to rotate the front and rear wheels.

The Pi is used to receive command wirelessly from an android phone with an Android app (BlueTerm) installed along with a Bluetooth serial adaptor for communicating with the Raspberry Pi to control the car.

Read more about how to make your own HERE!

Wondering where the name Raspberry Pi came from?  The name, Raspberry, is an homage to early computer companies being named after fruit, like Apple, Tangerine Computer Systems, Apricot Computers, and Acorn (which inspired the microcomputer’s design). Pi is derived from the original idea to make a small computer to run only the Python programming language.

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#madeatMIDAS: Jonathan Quarrie & Starlight Snowboards

Tracy Connery Photography - #madeatMIDAS- Jonathan Quarrie Starlight Snowboards

Jonathan Quarrie, Starlight Snowboards, standing in the MIDAS Fabrication Lab

This month, #madeatMIDAS features Starlight Snowboards and creator, Jonathan Quarrie.  Jonathan and his emerging business are a great example of the capabilities of the MIDAS facilities to help bring an innovative new vision to reality.

Our MIT-certified digital fabrication laboratory, or “Fab Lab”, equipment is geared to support this kind of entrepreneur development: collaborating and adopting state-of-the-art technology to create new and marketable products.

You can do it too! Check out our course calendar HERE!

Tracy Connery Photography - #madeatMIDAS- Starlight Snowboards Shopbot CNC course at MIDAS

Jonathan Quarrie – Snowboards created using the Shopbot CNC for his new company Starlight Snowboards

Here’s a little glimpse into Jonathan’s entrepreneurial journey here at MIDAS:

Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you found your way to MIDAS.
A machinist/toolmaker who was trained in the aerospace industry in the U.K., I’ve always had a passion for creating things myself whether it be building a lego set as a kid or building the furniture in our home.  I heard about MIDAS a few years ago when I was out riding a prototype bindingless snowboard I’d built at home.  A guy I met told me about a meeting where they were going to talk about MIDAS and look for volunteers.  I got involved there and then and started as a volunteer helping out with setting up some of the machines.  I’ve been visiting MIDAS ever since then.

What was it about your project that made you feel DIY was the best way to go?
I’d been making Snowboards as a bit of a hobby for about 7 years as a bit of fun.  I always enjoyed the process of designing and building something that I could then go and use and appreciate and to be able to see if I could improve or learn something new with each new board.

What is the intent behind your product and what are your intentions with it now that you’ve brought your vision to reality?
The intent was just to be able to produce a board that worked very well in the environment that we have locally.  We tend to ride steep terrain that is treed, for this I wanted to build shorter than normal boards that were light and nimble but still gave enough float to handle deep powder conditions. This first year was all about refining some of the manufacturing techniques, experimenting with shapes and construction and seeing if there was interest in the product.  The interest has been overwhelming and the results from the product testing have been great.  Going  forward I’d like to grow the project into a small company with the intention of selling boards starting 2018/19.   There is still a lot to do but I feel we are heading in the right direction.

Jonathan Quarrie - Snowboards created using the Shopbot CNC for his new company designing Starlight Snowboards

Jonathan Quarrie – Snowboards created using the Shopbot CNC for his new company, Starlight Snowboards

Please outline the process from start to finish with MIDAS, including the equipment & materials used, on this project.
There are over 100 individual processes that go into building a board, broken down and simplified it goes something like this:
1.Process starts with the board design which is done on the SpaceClaim program.  This includes the outline board shape, board profile (how it curves when viewed from the side) and the design of the wooden core of the board (how its thickness alters throughout the length of the board)
2. MDF material is cut on the Shopbot that is assembled to form the mold that the board will be pressed into.
3. Various, wood types are selected and bonded together in a block, this is then cut on a bandsaw to produce a blank that the board core can be shaped from
4. Using the Shopbot the core is machined to allow a rubber sidewall to be cast into it.  Once this is cured it is put back on the Shopbot to be machined on both sides so it is ready for assembly. It is this process that controls a lot of how the board performs. By altering the thickness of the core you can adjust how the board flexes and thus performs.  By using the Shopbot and the digital design this is very easily controlled.
5. MDF templates are cut using the Shopbot that are used to rout out the base material by hand. Ultimately I would like to use the Shopbot to cut the base material directly.
6. The base material is edged using ski /snowboard edge material.
7. various carbon fibre and fibreglass materials are cut ready for the assembly process.
8. at my home the board is assembled from the components: base, carbon and glass layers, the core, topsheet, metal binding inserts and epoxy resin.  It is then put in a hydraulic press that I built that compresses all the components together at around 100psi pressure until the resin has cured.
9. once cured excess material is cut off back to the metal edge, the board then has a base grind and some other finishing before decals made on the Roland vinyl cutter are applied.
10. The board is then waxed and ready for snow.

Do you expect you’ll use the MIDAS facility again?
Certainly, there is still development work to do and other ideas that I have that I’d like to try out there… it’s a fun place to be.

How would you sum up your experience at MIDAS?
It’s been great!  The team at MIDAS have been really supportive and encouraging and have been a massive help in bringing my project to where it is now.  It’s great to be there and see what other people are working on and to share ideas.

I feel very lucky to have such a great facility available to me and encourage anyone to get involved, if you have an idea of something you’d like to make go and make it happen.

You can do it too! All the resources you need to help take your idea, startup, or business to the next level.  Check out our course calendar HERE!

Be sure to check out more about the process – Jonathan and Starlight Snowboards:

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MIDAS Course: Trotec 120 Watt Laser Cutter

Tracy Connery Photography - #madeatMIDAS-Trotec 120Watt Laser Cutter

With the advanced Trotec 120Watt Laser Cutter, you can laser cut, etch, and engrave a variety of different materials: wood, metal, glass, leather, acrylic, natural rubber, stone and more.

In addition to the range of materials, there are also a wide variety of applications.  Signage, stamps, toys, promotional materials… the creative possibilities are remarkable!  The laser engraving and marking capability offered by the Trotec makes short work of model making, industrial design, prototyping and just about any kind of DIY application. The possibilites that this laser cutter offers to individuals and businesses is endless and inspiring. Whether it be personal DIY projects or prototyping an idea geared for industry, learning your way around the Trotec arms you with a powerful tool!

MIDAS course: Trotec Laser Cutter

A red laser pointer indicates the location where the laser beam will contact the material. The auto-focus ensures the laser beam is
correctly focused when contacting material. Equipped with a ferromagnetic working platform, making the Trotec ideal for mounting thin materials such as paper or films using magnets to ensure an even, flat surface.

Upcoming course March 19, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

Tracy Connery Photography - #madeatMIDAS-Tromac Laser Cutter Course.jpg

Upcoming course March 19, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

The Trotec can even engrave cylindrical, conical or spherical objects such as bottles, glasses, balls or mugs. It makes handling your engraving and cutting jobs of any kind fast, accurate and trouble free.

Trotec lasers are the fastest and most productive systems available. The Speedy 300 CO2 offers a top speed of 355cm/ sec. with an acceleration of 5g.

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

Tracy Connery Photography - #madeatMIDAS-Tromac Laser Cutter Course

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Fun Friday: #BCTECH Summit – Youth Innovation Day!

BCTECH Summit Youth Innovation Day

All of us at MIDAS are getting excited about the upcoming Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames!  As advocates for technology and innovation education, we want to draw your attention, too, to the #BCTECH Summit and their efforts towards nurturing tech & innovation in our next generation.

This year’s #BCTECH Summit Youth Innovation Day will be held on Wednesday, May 16th.  The theme is Breakthroughs: The Power of Curiosity and Ambition.

There will be a ton going on, and so much to see and explore, to encourage and engage, supporting innovative thinking in the youth who attend.  From cool science to state-of-the-art cars to meeting young entrepreneurs there will be no shortage of inspiration!

This will be a full day designed for high school students in grades 10 to 12.  They can visit with local researchers demonstrating innovative technologies in the Marketplace and Technology Showcase, listen to inspiring speakers share the ways they are changing the world around us through technology, and gather practical information from post-secondary institutions and companies seeking the next generation of talent.

There will be winning Science Fair projects and an epic battle of the robots in the VEX Robotics tourney.  Mentor tables will offer opportunities to meet with leaders in BC tech, where kids can get some insight into what it takes to embark on a career in technology.

Post-Secondary institutions will be on hand to help guide prospective students in the right direction to pursue the various avenues in tech education and careers.

For Secondary School educators:   The Solution Room offers the teacher chaperones an invaluable opportunity to meet and collaborate on how they are addressing the new secondary curriculum.

Find out more HERE!

Take a look at how it all went down last year:

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