Oct
13
2018
Volume
6-6

Creativity & Innovation in Wood Buffalo

D’Andre Wilson-Ihejirika
BY D’Andre Wilson-Ihejirika —  comments
(0 votes)

Tech.

Code.

Programming.

Innovation.

These words are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives, but how many of us really know how to use them?

With computers and technology being integrated into everything we do, more and more cities are hosting coding workshops and ‘hackathons’; events that encourage people to learn and build something with code. We’ve seen these events take place in big cities like Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, but this year our region hosted the first hackathon event in Wood Buffalo called Community Code Day.

Hosted by Keyano College and organized by YouthComputing, BrainSTEM Alliance and the Wood Buffalo Regional Innovation Network, this event had over 100 community members participate in workshops and speaker sessions designed to remove some of the mystery around coding. The purpose: To get our community excited about how we can use technology to impact our lives, right here in Wood Buffalo.

This inaugural event was on the theme of Arts and Culture. Representatives from local organizations like the Multicultural Association, Fuse Social, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, Business Link Alberta and more, presented on topics discussing how technology impacts art, culture, community and entrepreneurship.

Which came first? Culture or Technology? Luay Eljamal spoke on how tech and culture constantly influence each other. Babs Weber spoke on community focused design for tech and Melanie Galea of Discover Fort McMurray spoke on social media marketing. Wendy Muise gave insights to her own experiences of technology and entrepreneurship, and the famous Russell Thomas live painted while speaking to the role of tech in his life as an entrepreneurial artist. With a wide array of speakers, there was something of interest for everyone, including those who wanted to get more hands-on on with tech.

The Youth Computing team hosted a series of workshops teaching community members about web development, computer vision and even virtual reality. With sponsored VR kits from Aim High Park, participants were even able to test out some of their designs. But the really inspiring part of this Community Code Day event was the hackathon competition!

Eight teams registered to compete and had the challenge of coding a product within 24 hours! With participants ranging from 10 years old to 50+, community members of all ages came together to code for fun and for our community.

Some amazing ideas were generated based on the theme of arts, culture and community. We had participants make an application that records when someone views a piece of art in a gallery, and a computer program that draws its own art! Some coders used virtual reality and augmented reality to help us better explore points of interest in our community as well as worldwide! Another hackathon team created a website that would track the local art from all across our region. The creativity and innovation here in Wood Buffalo was put in the spotlight at this initial Community Code Day, and the plan is to make this an annual event to spark our community’s interest in tech.

But it doesn’t stop there!

With all of the amazing ideas generated through the Community Code Day, we hope to take these concepts from ideas to thriving initiatives and businesses that impact our community. To achieve this, a follow-up event and conference called ‘Launch Wood Buffalo’ is being planned for November 3rd focused on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This event will allow community members to learn how to take their idea and make it a reality! 

Wood Buffalo is one of the most diverse regions in Canada, with residents from a variety of backgrounds and with passion for community and industry; here we have the perfect combination for amazing innovation!

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