BCIT Associate Dean of Computing Dr. Bethany Edmunds has big expectations for the BC tech industry. “The thing that excites me the most about technology is its ability to be a great equalizer,” says Bethany. “We can improve the lives of so many by reframing our problem set and working together.”
Recently announced to the prestigious Business in Vancouver Top Forty Under 40 list, Bethany is a champion for “tech for good” – throwing her support behind causes that harness technology to overcome societal challenges.
Her vision has seen the launch of the downtown BCIT TEC Hub as well as the implementation of a new educational model in computing that better meets sector needs. As a part of the engrained curriculum, BCIT computing students work alongside companies and organizations of all sizes to build innovative technical solutions.
For instance, over the last two years, over 150 first year computing students have taken on the challenge of Metro Vancouver waste management in areas such as food and water. They’ve created apps and games designed to help reduce or prevent waste. In their second year, students then use open municipal data to improve citizens’ lives.
Bethany’s Ph.D. in machine learning, and wide-ranging skills – including building her own consulting company – put her in high demand as BCIT develops new programs to support the growing BC tech sector. She currently oversees 70 faculty and over 30 programs in BCIT’s Computing school, which provides the largest number of computing courses and educates the most related applied diploma graduates in B.C.
President & CEO of the BC Tech Association Jill Tipping has spoken in support of this model saying, “Working with industry to ensure a shared vision, Bethany led the development of cutting-edge computing programs to meet the needs of our thriving tech sector. The major program expansion she’s overseen at BCIT’s downtown campus offers an industry-integrated learning and teaching approach that has become a standard of excellence for both BCIT and post-secondary institutions in general.”
Bethany also works across a range of organizations to bolster diversity. She sees two drivers for this effort – to ensure society’s technologies reflect its needs and composition, and to help the sector tap the full range of talent available. Co-organizing the second-ever International Women in Machine Learning Workshop, she has hosted and presented at Microsoft’s DigiGirlz Day, collaborated with SAP and the Templeton Secondary School STEM initiative, and developed BCIT-hosted training sessions for K-12 teachers on design thinking and bringing technology into the classroom.
Bethany has also been named one of BC’s Most Influential Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) by BC Business. She will be presented with the Top Forty Under 40 award at the Business in Vancouver annual gala on January 24, 2019.