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Chilliwack tech show held at UFV CEP campus

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The 2018 UFV tech event, Chilliwack.Tech/Next, was held at the CEP campus on Saturday, Nov. 17 from 1-5 p.m. The event was organized by David Harper, director of entrepreneurship and innovation at UFV and Colin Schmidt from Wisebox Solutions. There was an array of presenters that spoke about the fast growing tech industry, and how businesses can benefit from advances in technology.

Harper noted that UFV contributed to the Chilliwack tech show by providing the space and Collin Schmidt arranged the program and the presenters for the evening. According to Harper, the purpose of the event was to promote interaction between community business leaders and UFV students and faculty. However, the conference was available to anyone in the valley.

“This is the first time that UFV has hosted the tech show on campus. The cost to UFV for hosting the event was under $2000, so it wasn’t a big event,” said Harper.

The afternoon began with a presentation and demo by Rob Carnegie, information and communication tech educator. Carnegie’s discussion was about the enhancement of machines through microcontrollers and internet connectivity. Afterwards he talked about building IOT (Internet of Things) products and then showed the audience how to create an internet-connected doorbell.

The second presentation by Richard Clark, who works for Crafty Penguins, was on the ChatOps communication model. ChatOps is a buzzword for communication between computers or over the internet generally involving the use of Chatbots to improve the management of software development and operations tasks. Clark’s presentation also focused on DevOps, the merging of the development and operations fields in technology to have people who create software working more closely with people who build the infrastructure to help run the software.

Jonathon McIntyre, CTO at i-Open Technologies Group, took the stage after Clark to speak about applying machine learning to geospatial applications. The future of image recognition was discussed in terms of facial recognition and object detection on roads and in cities. Artificial intelligence in the form of self-driving cars and mapping software developed by Microsoft and ESRI rely on spatial technology, which is constantly being improved.

The last two presentations were about improving the process of data analysis. Danny Burgoyne from Microsoft discussed how to build a predictive analytics machine using the machine learning application, Microsoft Azure. Machine learning involves using computers to analyze data from the past to predict future results without the need for coding. And so, with Microsoft’s Azure program the aim is to improve the accuracy and capabilities of data prediction software. Colin Schmidt then followed Burgoyne’s demonstration with a discussion on quantum computers and data storage.

From the perspective of business and economic development, IT is a very lucrative field. There were two speakers, David Harper and Raymond Szabada, that touched on the importance of innovation at the technology conference. David Harper spoke about UFV’s innovation and entrepreneurship programs and how the university is planning on repurposing the newly purchased building, Finnegan’s Pub and Phoenix Ballroom, as the “Digital Innovation Hub” in the next few years. There will also be hands-on business development workshops in the near future for those interested in starting up their own companies.

“I think the plan in the next couple of years for the space will be to use it for storage, offices and maybe even some classrooms. Now, everyone including the communities and the government would like to see some kind of innovation center in the Fraser Valley. But we will need support from the community and probably support from both the provincial and federal governments to do that. We are just in the discussion stage right now. Ideally we will have something in place five years from now,” said Harper after his presentation.  

Harper also mentioned that the goal is to bring more events directly related to innovation and entrepreneurship to UFV in the future. Chilliwack.Tech and UFV will be hosting their yearly Hackathon function next semester beginning in March. There have also been plans to organize hands-on business development workshops for those interested in starting up their own companies.   

Raymond Szabada, CEO and chairman of XLRator, ended the evening with a speech on the necessity of funding for entrepreneurs. Currently, their Venture Acceleration Program and the Venture Expansion Program provide networking/commercial support for tech companies. Also, due to the growth of employment opportunities in technology, the Fraser Valley aims to begin recruiting talented youth from public schools into the tech program.

Image: The Cascade

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