There were moments where my colleagues asked why I loved to tinker around with code and digital technical related tasks. With my love of learning and sharing, I was curious to see how enterprises like General Electric and educational programs would bridge the gap between innovation and business at the Digital Innovation 150 event. Here are highlights:


Elyse Allan, President and CEO, GE Canada started with opening remarks. She shared about the increase in the development and use of robotics. We learned that in one factory where robotics where integrated, none of the people were laid off. Younger programmers collaborated with the older “makers” for industrial solutions.

Elyse Allen leading the discussion with Bill Tam (President and CEO, BC Tech Association), James Rout (Associate Vice President, Educational Support and Innovation, BCIT), Lauren Sortome (Maker Mobile Instructor, Actua) and Jennifer Flanagan (President and CEO, Actua).

Big Data & Change

“We are experiencing an unprecedented time of change at an unprecedented speed… To be successful we must continually update our skills, adopt new ways of doing things, not be afraid to take risk, and work collaboratively across multiple generations bringing together both experience and technology.”

In the classroom and in the workplace, there will need to be new systems that can thrive in a world where solutions can be figured out along the way. There are so many unpredictable elements to face in the future, Elyse affirmed that collaboration will build resilient businesses and teams to adapt to market volatility.

“Pivot, Change, Move on. Have the curiosity to keep learning, as innovation happens on the fringe.”  

Panelist Discussion of Ideas on encouraging innovation and digital excellence in the workplace

Jennifer Flanagan talked about how STEM learning should be easy and fun, which would make innovation accessible. To future-proof the livelihoods of our future graduates, we need to ensure that they are encouraged to always challenge themselves to try something new, to learn by doing and to understand that learning is for a lifetime.

Bill Tam, of the BC Tech Association, mentioned that BC had the most amount of people working in start-ups. As advice, he also shared that it’s important to pay attention to the organizational culture of any business. For a thriving culture, it’s important to always encourage applied collaborative learning and create opportunities for people to take on new challenges. Though it’s always tempting to focus on finding the one right solution, it’s important to also find other solutions in other ways.

James Rout, Associate Vice President, Educational Support and Innovation at BCIT, pointed out we often forget the “A” in STEM learning, A for Art and Design. Adding the aspect of art and design to science, technology, engineering and math would help students to find solutions in a variety of ways.

All in all, the panelists also agreed on the need for diversity in any workplace. With differences, it can make a team more competitive as there will always be a different perspectives to source ideas and solutions from.


Getting maker-started

We were guided through a coding and maker-tool workshop by Maker Mobile leaders Laura and Kevin. We first started off with playing around with 3D software to build a shape where the Maker Mobile leaders would print in 3D.

Playing around with an intro to building in 3D


1C75C4E5-8ADB-4734-BB29-56ECA513A741-951x1024In teams, we took on the next challenge to put together building blocks of code to light up a laser-etched board of Canada.

Thank you for the wonderful hands-on learning experience.

GE and Actua will deliver workshops across Canada in major centres including Calgary, Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. It follows the path of Actua’s Maker Mobile tour, an innovation tour bringing experiences to youth in approximately 100 cities and towns across Canada.