Nelson Huang recently achieved a unique career milestone: returning to his alma mater to give a guest lecture to a class in which he once sat himself.
“It was around this time last year that I had the incredible opportunity to return to the Civil Engineering program at BCIT to give a guest lecture on roundabout design,” explains the BCIT alumnus, who was keen to share his knowledge with a new crop of students. “Having the chance to give a guest lecture was both nerve-racking and interesting to me—because I used to be the one sitting in the seat.”
Although being at the front of the class was different, Nelson says that it was an amazing opportunity to not only share his knowledge about design to current students but to also give back to an institute that had given so much to him.
Now a Civil Technologist at Transoft Solutions, Nelson says access to industry standard and cutting-edge software at BCIT as a student—thanks to the generosity of donors like Transoft—set him up to hit the ground running when he graduated.
“When I started my career, I realized how important doing simulations was,” Nelson explains, adding that getting that experience in class meant he didn’t require as much training once he got into the workforce. “With access to this kind of technology, by the time you get into the field, you’re already up to speed with industry standards. Basically, you’re ahead of the game.”
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Access to technology transforms student learning
In August 2020, Transoft renewed its nearly $1 million commitment to help students like Nelson by providing in-class access to their software, including industry standard AutoTurn (used in road design), as well as programs like TORUS for roundabout design, NEXUS for intersection design, and more. Civil engineers and technologists use programs like these to plan, design, construct and maintain road and rail transportation systems, port and airport facilities, bridges, tunnels, dams, and buildings of all types, as well as many other activities in an ever-expanding field.
“Had Transoft not donated this software, we would have to talk about roundabouts and intersections in more of an abstract way,” says Paul Thurston, Civil Engineering instructor at BCIT.
That’s part of what makes this donation so important. It provides access to technology while students get familiar with civil engineering and enhances student learning and outcomes.
Paul says that unlike designing an underground pipeline that no one ever sees, everyone can relate to an intersection or trucks going around a corner: “These programs give students a realistic view of the impact of their design decisions through rapid feedback provided by the software, which is invaluable heading into the workplace.”
A philanthropic partner since 2016, Transoft has donated close to $2 million to support the Civil Engineering program at BCIT. Since then, over 255 students have gained experience with current technical software, with each student gaining a minimum of 10 hours direct exposure to using the software in a term.
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Collaborative partnerships are vital
Milton Carrasco, founder and CEO of Transoft Solutions Inc., says the collaborative vision behind his company’s philanthropic partnership with BCIT goes back to a time when he himself was the recipient of charitable funding.
“When I was a refugee in the UK, I received a grant from the government that allowed me to finish my university degree,” explains Milton. “During the early years of Transoft, I made it a commitment that if ever I was to build a successful company, I would like to give back to society in general, but specifically to focus on areas like education. Having received similar help in my early days was a key part of that desire.”
It should come as no surprise that Milton has strong feelings about philanthropy, particularly post-secondary funding.
“BCIT is a very recognized engineering school and we see a lot of value in supporting its mission to be amongst the best in Canada and across the globe,” says Milton. “An important part of this collaboration with BCIT is bringing the technology to students and giving them the opportunity to become more current with it, more employable. These are things that add overall value to the student experience. From a professional standpoint, there is very little short-term revenue gain from this kind of activity, so we do not see it as a business proposition but truly as an act of philanthropy.”
Donations, like those from Transoft, are key to keeping BCIT students a step ahead when they enter the workplace.
“Transoft’s generous contributions give BCIT Civil Engineering students the job readiness for which our graduates are known,” says Jackie Jacob, Executive Director, BCIT Foundation. “Access to leading-edge technology has a significant positive influence on their employability after graduation. In fact, our Civil Engineering bachelor’s degree and diploma grads have an impressive 100% employment rate and 93% employment rate respectively. We are so grateful for Transoft’s commitment to BCIT. Together, we are giving our students relevant, hands-on experience today so that they can become the designers and builders our world needs tomorrow.”
Transoft Solutions is a BC-based international leader in the development of innovative software for the transportation engineering design sector.