DC receives $13 million in federal funding for new CFCE

Durham College (DC) announced today that it has received $13 million in funding from the federal government through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) toward the construction of the new Centre for Collaborative Education (CFCE) at the college’s Oshawa campus. The announcement was made by Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Liberal MP for Whitby, on behalf of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada at an event held at the college this morning.

The $13 million commitment, combined with the $22 million in funding received from the provincial government toward the building in April 2016, brings the total amount being invested in the CFCE to $35 million, the largest single-project investment by government in the college’s history.

With a total build cost of $40 million, the CFCE will replace the college’s aging Simcoe building, which was originally built as a temporary structure and opened in 1969. The new multi-level, 75,000-square-foot-facility, a legacy project tied to DC’s 50th anniversary in 2017, will serve as an educational access point for students while bringing together local, Indigenous and global community groups and members of key business sectors. The CFCE will be located to the east of the current building, where it will connect directly to the Student Services building, and is being designed to reflect and address the needs of both students and the community, including the desire for more collaborative learning and social spaces.

“On behalf of everyone at Durham College, I extend my sincere thanks to the federal government for this significant investment in our unique vision and commitment to creating a facility that will expand local programming, further connect Indigenous communities to post-secondary education and drive entrepreneurship and internationalization via Global, Open and Collaborative spaces that connect the college to more than 50 academic institutions around the world,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “Providing us with the opportunity to expand into new programs areas that offer experiential learning opportunities designed to match the labour needs of industry, the CFCE is a legacy building for the next 50 years that truly reflects Durham College’s dedication to meeting the demands of students, employers and Ontario’s changing economy.”

Designed to reflect DC’s commitment to working with local business and community partners to create a new facility where students, employees and the broader community can work together in ways that transcend the traditional concepts of education, the CFCE will house the following:

  • The School-College-Work Initiative and the affiliated Centre for Success program, a partnership between DC and the Durham District, Kawartha Pine Ridge District, Durham Catholic District, Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District, and Trillium Lakelands District school boards that assists in-risk students by helping them find their way to college.
  • The Aboriginal and Student Diversity Centres.
  • Entrepreneurial, Innovation and Creative spaces including the Spark Centre, which will expand applied research opportunities for students, faculty and small-and medium-sized businesses.
  • Global, Open and Collaborative spaces that will enable faculty, students and the broader community to use technology in creative ways to gain unprecedented access to students, educators, thought leaders, subject matter experts and other visionaries from more than 40 countries around the world.
  • Health science facilities including state-of-the art classrooms and labs; a spa focused on massage therapy, cosmetology and aesthetics; and programming centred around occupational therapy and physical therapy.
  • Foundation programs designed to prepare students for the continuation of post-secondary education at college or university.
  • Significant collaborative learning and social spaces for our students, faculty and community.

“These infrastructure investments will help create high-quality, well-paying jobs that can help the middle class grow and prosper today, while also delivering sustained economic growth in the Durham Region for years to come”, said MP Caesar-Chavannes. “Through the Strategic Investment Fund, we are strengthening the foundation for building Canada into a global centre for innovation.”

Since announcing plans to replace the aging Simcoe building in April, DC has made steady progress on plans for the CFCE. The construction and architecture tenders have been awarded and initial work is expected to begin this fall with construction to be completed in 2018. A comprehensive design consultation process involving the builder and architects is now underway with each of the services, programs and departments that will be moving into the CFCE.

“Durham College has long been a vital component of our community,” said Granville Anderson, MPP, Durham. “This significant investment from the provincial and federal governments, which supports expanded programming and enhances Durham’s state-of-the-art learning environment, provides the renewal necessary to continue that important work.”

The college will soon launch a capital campaign to raise the additional $5 million for the construction of the building in partnership with individuals, corporations, community partners and alumni over a two-year period.

DC student’s Gord Downie tribute helps raise funds for brain tumour research

When Durham College (DC) student Branson Schell returns to campus this September for his second year in the Animation – Digital program, he’ll have quite an addition to his portfolio. Schell’s water colour portrait of Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie went viral and is now being featured on t-shirts that will raise money for brain tumour research.

Downie announced in May that he has an incurable brain tumour; he’s now travelling Canada with the Tragically Hip on the bittersweet Man Machine Poem tour that will likely be his last.

An avid Tragically Hip fan, Schell was inspired to pick up his paintbrush by Downie’s music and circumstances. “It was only my second painting ever and it took about half an hour to complete,” said Schell. “I’m used to working with charcoal and pencil from my hand-drawing classes at DC, but I felt like I really need to use colour this time to capture him [Downie].”

After posting the portrait to his Instagram and Facebook profiles with the hashtag Gord Downie, Schell’s work began drawing attention and made its way to fellow fan Christina Parente who asked for permission to share the image on her Downie tribute website, deargord.ca. Next, popular music journalist Alan Cross included Schell’s painting in a poll to choose a Downie tribute image to be printed on t-shirts for a fundraiser in support of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Schell’s artwork was announced the winning fan-favourite on July 20 after earning nearly 60 per cent of the hundreds of votes that were cast.

“I’m proud of the painting, and the attention it’s getting is great, but I’m even more proud of how it’s going to help raise awareness and funds for more brain cancer research,” said Schell.

He and his friends will be watching the live broadcast of the Tragically Hip’s final concert on Saturday, August 20, at an outdoor event in his hometown of Cobourg, Ont. He plans to have some t-shirts on hand to keep doing his part to fundraise.

DC grads partner with McAfee Global Technologies to revolutionize digital security

Durham College (DC) Computer Systems Technology program graduates Joshua Kowalchuk and Robert Rogers know the world of technology is changing and evolving every day. After finding success with their start-up business, the two grads have partnered with international tech legend John McAfee and his company, MGT Capital Investments, Inc., to change the face of cyber-security for home and business owners across the world.

Kowalchuk and Rogers met before graduating from DC, establishing a mutual love for computers and information technologies. Together they provided IT consulting for local companies before founding their own internet service provider, Ontario High Speed Inc., in Whitby, Ontario in 2010. With no outside investors or working capital, growing the business was a slow process. However, five years later, the company had over 30 broadcast locations and roughly 500 happy customers, delivering high speed internet service to rural locations around Durham Region. The company’s first gigabit optical circuit and data centre became operational in 2012, and in 2013 the first prototype of the E-Tagged mobile device tracking software for a tractor dealership’s anti-theft system was introduced.

After seeing a video of the system at work, McAfee contacted the pair with an opportunity to work with his company, incorporating their software into a new form of high security systems. Kowalchuk and Rogers hope to expand the product’s reach from corporate applications to a broader array of uses, including home monitoring systems.

“John McAfee is a tech legend whose vision helped shape and change the new world of the personal computer, so it is a surreal experience,” says Kowalchuk of working with McAfee on their E-Tagged technology. “If you were to tell either of us 15 years ago that we would be working with him, we probably wouldn’t have believed you.”

The E-Tagged software analyzes radio signals broadcast by mobile phones, detecting their identity and alerting the owner with information such as the geographic location, MAC address and cellular carrier of the device in question. The system can be configured to call, text or email this information remotely. Whether monitoring a dealership’s sales lot or a house’s front door, the security system built from the E-Tagged technology will enable people to more easily protect the things they find most valuable.

Durham College launches 50th anniversary survey and website

Durham College (DC) has launched an official 50th anniversary website, kicking off the countdown to the college’s milestone birthday in 2017. With news, updates and event information, the website is a hub for DC’s anniversary celebrations, offering an opportunity for community members to stay informed, entertained and engaged over the coming year.

“The theme of the 50th anniversary celebrations for both Durham College and Colleges Ontario is The Start of Something Amazing and that’s exactly what this website embodies,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “Designed to evolve as the year unfolds, the site will provide an opportunity for us to invite everyone — students, alumni, employees, retirees and members of the community — to share their memories of where we’ve been and their vision for where we’re going. In particular, it will provide the opportunity to hear how DC has positively influenced some of our most successful alumni via video footage from our President’s Panel.” 

The site features photo and video galleries, anniversary special event listings, as well as DC and Colleges Ontario facts. It also highlights the variety of ways visitors can stay connected, such as subscribing to anniversary-related email updates, sharing DC stories via social media using #DC50, and submitting favourite memories and video footage to the website.

“One way members of our local community, in addition to our employees, students, alumni and more, can participate in our celebrations is by taking a few minutes to complete our 50th anniversary survey,” said Scott Blakey, chief administrative officer and co-chair, 50th Anniversary Committee, DC. “Their input and contributions, from favourite DC anecdotes to photos to artifacts, will help shape our celebrations in the year ahead.”

Visitors are invited to stop by the website frequently to stay up-to-date on the latest 50th anniversary news and events and help celebrate with their extended DC family.

DC Entrepreneurship and Small Business grad launches Agile Fat Guy Spirits

As a mechanic, Jeremy Coulis liked his nine-to-five lifestyle, but once his kids were older he decided he wanted to open his own business. After going back to school to try something new, Coulis completed the Entrepreneurship and Small Business program at Durham College (DC) in August 2015 and launched Agile Fat Guy Spirits, a craft distillery.

“I chose DC’s program for its focus on helping students develop the knowledge base needed to build something from nothing and start their own business upon graduating,” said Coulis. The Entrepreneurship and Small Business program guides students through the ideation stage and right through launching a business, with courses that encourage them to think outside the box — an integral characteristic of any successful entrepreneur.

A no-nonsense kind of guy with no entrepreneurial experience, Coulis appreciated the program’s hands-on approach, including a mentorship component that sees students receive 24 hours of mentorship from a local entrepreneur. Coulis landed at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company for his mentorship, where for three days he spent time learning in a variety of departments.

When FastStart DC (FastStart) launched in January 2015, Coulis immediately got involved. FastStart’s official kickoff at DC included partnering with the Student Association to launch a social media contest that asked students to share their thoughts on what entrepreneurship meant to them. As one of 11 prize winners, Coulis received an all-expense-paid trip to Canada’s East Coast to attend the Starting Point Student Entrepreneurship Conference at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Winning the trip catapulted Coulis into becoming a FastStart client. The DC Summer Accelerator program launched soon after in the spring of 2015. He applied and became part of the inaugural accelerator program, facilitated by the college’s partners at Spark Centre. Coulis immersed himself in the start-up world at DC’s regional innovation centre, attending workshops, seminars and mentoring sessions. He even took home a $500 prize for winning one of the summer’s three pitch competitions — all just the beginning of his entrepreneurship journey.

In an unconventional move, Coulis came up with his Agile Fat Guy brand name even before deciding on a business or product. “I race sailboats, and anyone who sails knows that you have to be agile to race,” said Coulis. “Someone called me an ‘agile fat guy’ once and I thought it was fun — so it stuck!” Coulis doesn’t just feel passionately about his brand, he believes he is his brand. At Agile Fat Guy, he often jokes that he’s the CFG – Chief Fat Guy.

Once he had the name, Coulis wanted to capitalize on it. Originally planning to start a craft brewery, he later changed his mind to focus on craft spirits instead. Soon after, Agile Fat Guy Spirits was born and officially incorporated in August 2015. After receiving $5,000 in seed funding from the DC Summer Accelerator program for successfully completing the program and meeting the prize criteria, Coulis put the money toward his start-up, using it to secure the equipment required to start a distillery. He credits being part of FastStart DC with helping him to source suppliers and giving him the support needed to start a company in today’s ever-changing economy.

“Agile Fat Guy probably wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for FastStart DC and Spark Centre,” said Coulis, identifying the program and regional innovation centre as key components to his success thus far. “Working at The Loft [at Spark Centre], I learned how critical it is to remain focused on your core idea until that idea gets established.”

With his core idea of creating craft spirits established, Coulis is moving on to his next goal: getting those spirits into LCBO stores. He recently submitted his vodka and gin products for consideration and is optimistic that they’ll be on retail shelves soon.

“Getting products on LCBO shelves is a unique process,” explained Coulis. “The LCBO has a product call once a year where they decide what they want to sell. But once you get in, it sets the standard for selling everywhere else.”

While continuing to navigate the LCBO’s regulatory process, he is keeping momentum going for Agile Fat Guy by focusing on marketing, especially the brand’s social media presence. He’s also working on developing new products, including coolers. Coulis also recently secured a deal with George Brown College to partner with the school’s Food Science department on research and development for his company.

Coulis’ long-term goals include a 12-month plan to have Agile Fat Guy vodka and gin products in the LCBO, and a 24-month plan to add coolers to the retail mix, with all products being available in as many LCBO outlets as production will allow. By the end of 2017, he would also like to be exporting Agile Fat Guy products across Canada. His vision for Agile Fat Guy also includes building a distillery in Cobourg, Ontario, his hometown and the home base for the company. Coulis has plans in place to create jobs and hire local employees to run production services — his way of giving back to the community that’s supporting his start-up venture.

“Using resources like FastStart DC and Spark Centre gives you a step up in the right direction,” said Coulis, reflecting on his DC and DC Summer Accelerator experience. “It allows you to be different from everyone else and still be a part of their world — new entrepreneurs should stay with them as long as they can. You meet so many people and the system works well with the whole team in it.”

Drawing on his own experience as a student entrepreneur, Coulis now shares his own advice with aspiring entrepreneurs: “If you can’t talk about your business non-stop to anyone at any time, then you are not in the right business. Just be passionate about it. You have to have a passion for your business. Tell everyone about your idea. Ask everyone for help. Take free money. Take risks.”


Durham College Centre for Food named 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant®

Durham College (DC) announced today that its Centre for Food (CFF), located at the Whitby campus, has been named a 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant®. The certification builds on the CFF’s previous 2 Star rating, which was awarded by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a non-profit organization that guides restaurants on becoming more environmentally sustainable, in 2014.

The rating applies to a total of nine CFF spaces, including Bistro ’67, the college’s full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant; Pantry, a unique retail store that brings student-created goods straight from the field to the culinary classroom and on to the community; the large quantities, culinary and culinary baking kitchens; the wine-tasting/mixology lab; the food distribution centre; the lecture demonstration theatre; and the banquet hall.

“This advancement from Durham College’s previous 2 Star rating, received only two years ago, is a credit to the incredible work of everyone at the CFF in conjunction with our Sustainability office as we work to integrate both field-to-fork and environmental sustainability into all aspects of the CFF’s operations,” said Kevin Baker, principal, Centre for Food. “It’s also a powerful demonstration of the college’s dedication to environmental leadership and I am proud of our commitment to teaching students by example how they can go on to incorporate sustainability into their careers, workplaces and personal lives post-graduation.”

The CFF received 177.03 GreenPoints™ in recognition of implementing 63 environmental steps across the categories of energy, water, waste, disposables, chemicals and pollution, food, and buildings and materials, marking a 40-per cent increase in points over the centre’s initial GRA certification. Points were awarded in recognition of numerous sustainable features including:

  • A two-storey living wall herb garden
  • On-site food production, use of local produce and offering of vegan and vegetarian main dishes
  • A comprehensive recycling program that includes food waste in order to reduce the CFF’s carbon footprint
  • A hydration station for filling reusable water bottles
  • Use of compostable take-out containers
  • Low-flow toilets, touchless sensor faucets and waterless urinal technology

“Our new 3 Star rating is a true reflection of what we’re doing with eco-focused facility improvements, practices and standards at the CFF,” said Michelle Darling, senior project manager, DC, who oversees the college’s Sustainability office. “We’ve made incredible progress in a short period of time, and achievements like this keep both employees and students motivated as we continue to green DC.”

Focused on the field-to-fork concept, which is based on the harvesting, storing, processing, packaging, sale and consumption of food – in particular the production of local food for local consumers, the CFF opened to students in September 2013. Supported by ambassador and celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy, it boasts numerous sustainable building features in addition to those identified by the GRA. These include a glass curtain wall to maximize natural light, a fully automated building controls management system, occupancy sensors and the use of safer hand soaps.

The CFF’s grounds feature an apple orchard, agricultural planting fields, gardens and greenhouses that support academic applied-learning and research while growing fruits, vegetables and other produce for use in its kitchens, laboratories and Bistro ’67. Production methods have low environmental impact, demonstrate water stewardship and result in reduced energy consumption.

The south side of the building includes a ramped garden feature with a pollinator garden for native birds, bees and butterflies and planning for a two-acre arboretum is underway. This will see the planting of more than 200 species of trees, shrubs, perennials and fruit-bearing plants, providing a teaching and learning environment for students, the local agri-food industry, community organizations and the general public.

DC faculty and students are also collaborating on unique, agri-focused applied research projects at the CFF, including the development of cold-frame technology, which harnesses the sun’s energy to support the growth of fresh, local produce year-round, and the improvement of drones’ data-collecting capabilities to help local farmers with crop management.

Able to accommodate 900 students, the CFF is home to the college’s Horticulture – Food and Farming, Horticulture Technician, Culinary Management, Culinary Skills, Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts, Event Management, Hospitality – Hotel and Tourism Operations Management, Hospitality Skills and Special Events Planning programs.

DC grad Sarah Mark hits the Top 40 with song 'Tun Up'

Less than a month after her Durham College (DC) convocation ceremony, Music Business Administration graduate Sarah Mark is certainly making her mark on the Canadian music industry with her hit song, “Tun Up.” The song debuted on June 25 at number 49 on Canada’s Billboard Contemporary Hit Radio Top 40 chart and quickly climbed to a spot in the Top 30.

 “Tun Up” is getting airtime on popular radio stations across Canada, including Virgin 99.9 in Toronto and Winnipeg, and even caught the attention of TV personality and radio host Ryan Seacrest.

When she graduated from DC in June 2016, Mark, an International student from Trinidad and Tobago, also landed a spot on another top list: the President’s Honour Roll, which recognizes students with a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 or greater.

The two-year Music Business Administration program prepares students for the competitive music industry. Students develop skills in management, marketing, promotion and small business while learning the essentials of event production, live sound reinforcement, studio operations and media.

DC students successfully represent Ontario at Skills Canada National Competition

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce the success of two second-year Horticulture Technician program students at this year’s Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC). The event, held in Moncton, N.B. from June 5 to 8 saw Jamie Marangon and Zachary Slaughter finish fourth in the Landscape Gardening category.

Both Marangon and Slaughter qualified to participate in the SCNC in May when they won gold in the Horticulture and Landscape category at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition, held from May 2 to 4 in Waterloo.

“I don’t have the words to express how proud I am of Zac and James’ achievements or how professionally they represented Durham College and Ontario at the Skills Canada National Competition,” said Shane Jones, a professor with the Horticulture Technician program who also coached the students for both the national and provincial competitions.

As the only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices in the country, the SCNC sees more than 500 young people from across Canada participate in more than 40 skilled trade and technology competitions, providing an opportunity for them to gain hands-on work experience related to careers in both skilled trades and technology.

DC students wrap up a victory in PAC's packaging challenge

Students from Durham College (DC) and other post-secondary institutions across Ontario answered the call of the Packaging Association of Canada’s (PAC) Just One Package Student Competition on May 18, with the goal to reduce waste and eliminate the need for single-use packaging in retail. Two Graphic Design students, Gwenda Thomas and Jasmine Isidoro, earned second place for their submission, as staff from PAC retail members Canadian Tire, Costco, Home Depot, Sobeys, Walmart and Wegmans joined the audience to judge challenge submissions.

This year, contestants worked with medium or large products to create packaging that appeals to consumers, is environmentally friendly, and has the flexibility to be used in multiple product settings. Competitors were allotted 15 minutes to present their projects to event attendees and a panel of retail experts for feedback. After the presentations, entrants set up tables in common areas for more in-depth explanations and full exposure to guests.

The audience voted to determine Best of Show, 1st, 2nd and 3rd places, which all received recognition awards. However, the winners weren’t the only ones rewarded; retailers found new solutions to reduce packaging waste, audience members got valuable education, and inventive students gained access to primary markets for their products, recognition for their efforts and the chance for employment. All participating students and schools received a small monetary reward for participation and contributing solutions to the important issues facing the packaging industry.

The Just One Package Student Competition was presented during PAC’s Innovation Challenge as a special luncheon feature event, and served as an excellent avenue for students to display their talent and ingenuity to industry leaders. Every year a new and unique challenge is issued, pushing competitors to their creative limits and inspiring original, innovative designs.

CCAA Hall of Fame Inductee: Marcy Skribe

Marcy Skribe, a three-time Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association All-Canadian and two-sport athlete, will be inducted into the CCAA Hall of Fame in the athlete category.

Skribe, now Marcy Manners, starred with the Seneca Sting and the Durham Lords in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association from 1993-97.

“Marcy is well-deserving of the honour of being inducted during the OCAA’s first time hosting the CCAA Hall of Fame,” said Ken Babcock, director of athletics at Durham College. “Marcy’s career in the OCAA is second to none. She is one of the greatest athletes in CCAA history. She capped off her career with an outstanding season at Durham College, helping the Lords win our first OCAA women’s basketball title and first trip to nationals.”

She was dominant in women’s basketball at Seneca for three seasons before finishing her collegiate career at Durham, where she was named the OCAA’s female athlete of the year in 1997. She was named a CCAA women’s basketball All-Canadian in 1994, 1996 and 1997.

Her 1996-97 season with the Lords is one of the most successful seasons any student-athlete in the history of the CCAA. In 14 conference games, she averaged 17.4 points per game and was named an OCAA all-star, OCAA championship MVP, CCAA All-Canadian, CCAA Academic All-Canadian and eventual the OCAA athlete of the year.

Beating Humber 58-50 in the gold medal game is still the Lords only division one title in OCAA women’s basketball.

“Marcy was one of the most dynamic players I have ever seen,” said Mike Duggan, who coached Skribe at Durham College. “When she stepped on the court, not only did she control the flow of the game but she made her teammates better, the sign of a true leader.”

Skribe was selected to the OCAA women’s basketball All-Millennium team in 2000 and was inducted into the OCAA Hall of Fame in 2003.

“As an outstanding athlete and natural leader, Marcy’s work ethic and highly competitive edge drove her teams to be the best they could be,” said Linda Stapleton, director of sport and recreation at Seneca College.

“Playing amongst some of the best players in the country was always an amazing experience, knowing that you were at ‘the big show’ was a great experience in itself,” said Skribe.

She also attended the 1995 CCAA women’s soccer national championship at Medicine Hat College in Alberta. Her one trip to soccer nationals was certainly memorable – the 1995 event is remembered for its frigid weather and a nasty snowstorm.

“It was so cold,” said Skribe. “They had to plow the fields of snow at the beginning of every day and we had tents with heaters and hot chocolate on the sidelines.”

Later that season, she attended the 1996 CCAA women’s basketball national championship with Seneca at John Abbott College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Q.C. The following year, Skribe attended the 1997 event with Durham at Langara College in Vancouver, B.C. She was named to the first all-tournament all-star team in both events.

“Being recognized as an All-Canadian but also tournament all-star both times I attended nationals – is an honour to be acknowledged amongst such elite players,” she said.

Each experience, while unique, was incredible according to Skribe thanks to the staff and volunteers that make CCAA national championships possible.

“They worked tirelessly to make everything tick,” she said. “They made you feel like a superstar and really went out of their way to make the experience memorable for every team, every player.”

After her playing days were over, Skribe gave back to her post-secondary institutions and to the sport of basketball by turning her attention to coaching.

She joined the Durham staff in 1999 before spending five seasons with Seneca, where she participated in the CCAA’s Female Apprentice Coach Program as a mentor to two apprentices.

Skribe would also guide the Sting to back-to-back national championship appearances.

“I was lucky enough to experience the CCAA’s as both a player and coach and it didn’t matter who was hosting, they made it special for the players which tells me it is the culture of the CCAA, that ensures this experience for participants and not just the host schools,” she said.

“For so many of the athletes, the CCAA’s might be the most glorious moment of their college career or even more beyond that and for that one weekend, everyone makes you feel proud and honoured.”