Big Info: BCIT promotes hands-on learning, access to industry contacts

BCIT’s Big Info is a big deal.

The open-house event on Nov. 14 at the Burnaby campus drew more than 3,400 prospective students to explore over 300 programs — from business operations, tech and computer engineering, to healthcare and
media. Most importantly, the event also gave participants a chance to speak one-on-one with faculty.

“My mom went here, so I know how good the school is,” said 17-year-old Piero Ciprian, a student at St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby.

Ciprian came to Big Info night to learn more about BCIT’s business management programs — a course of study made more attractive by the fact that 96 per cent of BCIT business diploma grads are employed within six months of graduation.

For Giovanna Ciprian, Piero’s mother, BCIT provides not only the education but also the support.
Giovanna graduated in operations management and is a processing engineer with Canada Post.

“I felt very supported by my instructors at BCIT and I want my children to have that,” she said. “BCIT can give them the right skills and the kids are not lost. It helps them to be equipped and confident.”

This remains one of BCIT’s key selling points today — class sizes are small, students work closely with their instructors and gain industry contacts right from the beginning.

Phil Ramer, associate dean of operations management, School of Business, says the specialized programs provide students with the tools to become what he calls the ‘engineers of business’, whether they choose business information technology, business operations management, international business or global supply chain management.

“When students finish [their diploma], they could work in management, business technology, logistics, manufacturing, service, purchasing — it all involves problem solving,” Ramer said.

He added: “It’s the management of product and service processes, and movement of materials across
every business,” citing examples of business operations such as the Port of Vancouver’s expansion and companies like Amazon that require workers with the skills necessary to move products globally.

Ramer spent more than 30 years in business operations and says every day had different challenges.
“That’s how it is for all the faculty. A large part of why we’re so successful is that students leave here knowing how to deal with [the challenges of the real business world],” Ramer said.

Students at Big Info all came away with bright-yellow BCIT reusable gift bags and lots of information to reflect on. In addition to meeting faculty members, prospective students also had the opportunity to try out some of the state-of-the-art technology that BCIT students use every day, including drones, virtual reality headsets, and realistic computerized CPR-training dolls. The event is a big moment for many who may enroll here to become what BCIT president Kathy Kinloch calls “tomorrow’s change-makers.”

“We’re absolutely delighted to share our vast array of programs and career paths with so many people at Big Info,” said Kinloch. “BCIT offers students the unique opportunity to learn hands-on skills from experts in their fields — our faculty. Today’s students of all life stages need strong technical knowledge as well as soft skills like communication, collaboration, and critical thinking to empower them with resilience in today’s rapidly changing world of work.”

For Graysen Demichina, 17, a student at Dr. Charles Best Secondary School in Coquitlam, she’d like to be able to use her language skills from French immersion — perhaps to pursue a career in government.

“BCIT has got everything and it’s close to home,” she said. “I can start on courses to learn the foundations of business.”

Graysen and her mother, Laura Demichina, visited the operations management section. Laura likes the idea of operations management and believes that it could open many doors for her daughter.

“And this event is very good for any person coming in and deciding what to do,” said Laura.

Jason Fan, 17, a student at Richmond Secondary, is thinking of becoming a computer systems technician who attended the event with his father to explore training options.

“The programs are successful, and you know when you come here you’re getting skills,” Fan says, whose dream job involves systems maintenance at Microsoft.

Fan’s father, Forest, likes what BCIT offers and says he’d be pleased if Jason chooses a program here.

“It’s very practical and Jason would get involved in the BCIT community. It really depends on him.”
BCIT’s signature trades programs are solid — and as popular as ever. Tess Michaelson, a 20-year-old from Surrey, is considering the automotive program. She’s not certain but, again, the familial pull is at play as both her father and her brother attended BCIT.

Her father, Evan Michaelson, said BCIT’s Trades Discovery program offers Tess a chance to
explore numerous training classes in trades for 16 weeks, after which one trade can be chosen. “The program offers a little bit of everything,” he said.

A version of this story first appeared in The Vancouver Sun, November 17, 2018 with credit to Lynn Mitges. 


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