Gateway to Technology opens for students

Restoring cars, baking and computer programming are just a few of 16-year-old Nathaniel Burroughs favourite things. But it was the Grade 11 Summerland Secondary student’s talents at the computer that caught the attention of administrators of the Gateway to Technology program, a partnership between School District 67 and Okanagan College. “It’s a very good entry point into the industry and you get a chance to learn a lot more in-depth parts of technology,” said Nathaniel who works part time as a baker and is fixing up a 1995, five-litre V8 Mustang as a school project, having learned to weld when he was 10 years old. “I’ve been working with computers for years now and I’m just really interested in how they work, how they talk and just how much they can do. “Also to actually get some sort of certification and education to put on a resumé, that is really nice.” According to Trevor Knowlton of SD67, the program is designed especially for students who show an aptitude for technology, networking and coding (computer programming). “This is a really unique opportunity and the programs are designed to help transition high school students to careers and post secondary opportunities in technology,” said Knowlton, SD67’s careers and apprenticeship co-ordinator. “Students from high schools in Penticton and Summerland applied and they were selected in terms of their interest in technology and Nathaniel had the skills so he was a perfect candidate. “Not a lot of students can take on the challenge, these are long days, the students are going to high school all day long and then they’re at the Okanagan campus until 8:30 at night two days a week.” Officials at the school district and Okanagan College are working together to further develop related technology programs. “There’s a great demand from students to learn more and I know there is a great demand in the industry so this is a great partnership with Okanagan College to allow these kids to increase their skills,” said Knowlton. “I’m really impressed with these students and there’s going to be some very unique stories as they transition.” In the recent program from September to January the students attended the program twice a week at the Penticton OC campus and online. Separated into two section, IT Essentials and Intro Into Coding, the students will receive a high school credit for the successful completion. Additionally, there is a new micro-credential program — IT User Support — from February to June that Nathaniel and classmates will transition to in February. Intended for Grade 12 students, there are some exceptions like Nathaniel, who were chosen to take part. Participants work two days a week on the program including spending time at a hands-on class at the college campuses in Penticton and Kelowna. Students will receive two secondary school course credits that can be used towards a computer science course after graduating high school. “So far, I’ve learned a lot about computers, my coding skills have gotten better and my server knowledge has improved,” said Nathaniel who one day plans to tackle the world of quantum computing. “I can’t do everything yet. I’m not going to be some big software developer right now but maybe one day…”

Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Penticton Herald