DC is committed to providing students with a high-quality academic experience. All scheduled academic activities and services, including on-campus learning through classes and labs, continue as planned while Durham Region is under red-zone restrictions. For a full list of what is open on campus or operating virtually, please visit our COVID-19 winter semester page.
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Lakeridge Health and Durham College project applies artificial intelligence to predict emergency department wait times

A new partnership between Lakeridge Health and Durham College’s (DC) Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (the AI Hub) will test the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to predict how long an individual will wait in the emergency department (ED), improving decision making and the patient’s experience in the ED.

The 40-week project, led by DC faculty researcher Amit Maraj and a team of four research assistants from the Computer Programmer Analyst program, will result in a prototype for an AI-infused recommender system. If successful, this system would make individual wait-time predictions for ED visits based on the person’s condition, what ED they are visiting and the time of day and year. The predictions would also take into account a person’s individual health status and other factors, including staffing, the number of people waiting for care and the urgency of everyone’s needs.

“People waiting in the emergency department often feel frustration and anxiety because they don’t know how long they will be there or what to expect,” said Dr. Ilan Lenga, chief information officer and chief medical information officer of Lakeridge Health. “We are pleased to be able to harness the ingenuity of the students and faculty at Durham College to develop a system that will benefit the community and improve people’s experiences in the emergency departments.”

The program team will look at a set of actual, anonymized patient data from the past to build a system – using machine learning – that can predict with a high degree of accuracy their wait time given everything that was happening in the ED at the time that they visited.

“We are excited about this opportunity to collaborate with Lakeridge Health to optimize the use of our health-care system’s resources using artificial intelligence,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “The work we are doing in this project has the potential to be tremendously helpful for patients while showcasing the real-world application of AI in a health-care setting in a way that will positively impact the system as a whole.”

Personalized predictions are important because emergency departments must treat the most urgent patients first, and do not operate on a “first-come, first-served” basis.


Three Durham College alumni nominated for 2019 Premier’s Awards

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce that, in recognition of their outstanding career success related to their college experience and the significant contributions they have made to their community, three of its alumni have been nominated for Colleges Ontario’s 2019 Premier’s Awards.

Andy Popko, who graduated from DC’s Public Relations program in 1987, has spent over 40 years in the oil and energy sector working closely with western Canada’s Indigenous peoples to develop equitable joint venture partnerships that will protect Indigenous land rights. For his work, Popko was named an honourary Chief at Heart Lake First Nations and also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tribal Chiefs Institute in 2003. Presented on behalf of the Treaty 6 Chiefs, Popko is the first non-Indigenous person to be presented with the award. In 2004, he was also recognized as a Durham College Alumni of Distinction. Today, he is vice-president of Aboriginal Relations at NC Services Group Limited and a director at energy start-up Bitcrude. Popko is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Business category.

Over the last ten years, Cailey Jones has worked her way up from volunteer to full-time teacher, vice-principal and finally principal of Botshabelo Urban Kids Educentre (UKE) in Midrand, South Africa. A 2010 graduate of DC’s Early Childhood Education program, she is driven by the knowledge that early access to education can change a child’s life. Over the past nine years, she’s helped build Botshabelo’s preschool program from the ground up, filling a need for children who may not otherwise access preschool education. In her role as principal, she introduced play-based learning, parent workshops, standardized assessment processes, and regular teacher evaluations and training. In 2019, she was recognized as an Alumna of Distinction at Durham College and was a guest speaker during the Global Grad event. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Community Services category.

Bev Woods has given thousands of people a reason to smile over her 39-year career. Since graduating from DC’s Dental Assisting program in 1980 and the Dental Hygiene program in 1986, she has worked in both general practice and public health as a dental hygienist, consultant, and as a member and past president of numerous dental hygiene associations. In 2009, Woods founded Gift from the Heart (GFTH), a non-profit organization and annual one-day event that brings together dental hygienists across the country to offer no-cost dental hygiene services to those unable to afford or access care. The event has provided over $1.2 million in no-cost dental hygiene care to vulnerable populations over the past ten years. In recognition of Woods’ generous work with GFTH and meaningful contributions to dental hygiene and her community, she was recognized as a Durham College Alumna of Distinction in 2019. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Health Sciences category.

“Using the skills they learned at DC, these three remarkable individuals have built successful and meaningful careers for themselves. We are so proud of their achievements and the impact they are having in their communities and worldwide,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “This is yet another example of how college education provides graduates with the foundation for success.”

This year’s Premier’s Award winners will be announced during a gala reception on Monday, December 2 in Toronto. For more information about the Premier’s Awards, please visit www.co-awards.org.


DC’s AI Hub receives $210,000 from Ontario Centre of Excellence

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce that its Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (the AI Hub) received $210,000 in May from Ontario Centre of Excellence (OCE) for the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program.

Through the CVTA program, student teams guided by college faculty will act as consultants to local businesses, applying their skills and training to solve industry challenges related to innovation and technology adoption.

The funding awarded to DC will allow the college’s AI Hub to work with 21 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are facing barriers in the face of AI adoption, preparing them for pre- and post-AI development, including data collection and processing, algorithm selection, and the development of IT infrastructure, API or cloud computing servers. SMEs participating in the program will receive access to faculty and student expertise, collaborative workspace and valuable programs and resources.

 “Very few companies have in place the foundational building blocks that enable them to develop an effective AI solution that can generate value at scale,” said Dr. Elaine Popp, vice president, Academic. “We are thrilled that this funding will allow us to further support local businesses as they implement AI capabilities into their business systems, all while giving our students more opportunities for experiential learning.”

The college currently has a roster of projects lined up as a result of this funding with 10 vouchers still available for businesses interested in initiating a project with the AI Hub.

 “This funding is allowing 1COMMUNITY1 to connect with a diverse and passionate team of students that are eager to share their expertise, and who exhibit an honest and dedicated interest in fulfilling the success of our project,” said Kevin Craddock, chief technology officer, 1COMMUNITY1 – one of 11 current voucher recipients working with the AI Hub. “With this support, we have the opportunity to collaborate on innovative solutions that will help us leverage artificial intelligence to engage community through unique and accessible interactions.”

This is the second round of funding that the college has received from OCE for the CVTA program. The most recent funding of $100,000 allowed the AI Hub to develop technology-based solutions for 10 SMEs, including automation, online collaborative tools, and data visualization.


Durham College introduces Working Across Borders in International Business course

Durham College’s global classroom provides a venue for interactive, live-streamed classes, allowing learners and educators to collaborate worldwide, without crossing geographic boundaries.

Participants share their views with their colleagues, both domestic and abroad via live video chats. Students may find themselves debating religion with educators in Bangladesh on Monday, critiquing the education system with students in Zambia on Wednesday and analysing the impact of social media in England by Friday.This multicultural approach to education has made DC a wellspring for international collaboration since its creation; and with the introduction of Working Across Borders (WAB) in the fall of 2019, there is no end in sight to DC’s international reach.

“WAB takes the power of the global classroom and unlocks its potential for business,” said Joanne Spicer, DC’s global learning facilitator. “The result is a virtual, international consultancy project aimed at giving students an opportunity to experience the challenges and logistics of international, multicultural projects.”

Spicer and Rogier Ten Kate, a DC professor, along with educators in more than seven countries including: Belgium, Finland, Italy and the United Kingdom, worked diligently to bring this idea to life.

Students will virtually cross borders in the International Business course within the School of Business, IT & Management, by creating and developing business recommendations for an existing international company. They will create sustainable solutions for the organization by incorporating three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations in their project. Some of these goals include: gender equality; safe and sustainable water management; climate action; and eliminating poverty.

“For their final project, students will develop potential business solutions and recommendations for the company,” said Spicer “then, they will pitch their solutions to their clients via video in the Global Class.”

This initiative, supported by the International Education office will impart the importance of sustainability on a generation of young professionals, ensuring a bright and green future for international business, without crossing geographic boundaries.


DC’s Centre for Collaborative Education has achieved LEED Gold level certification

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that its Centre for Collaborative Education (CFCE), a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED®) certified project, has achieved Gold level certification in LEED’s green building program through the Canada Green Building Council® (CaGBC).

The LEED green building program is the pre-eminent program for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of high-performance green buildings. The certification distinguishes building projects that have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability by meeting the highest performance standards.

“We are thrilled to have achieved LEED Gold certification for the Centre for Collaborative Education, our first on campus, and one of the few LEED certified buildings in Oshawa,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “This accolade highlights just one of the many ways that Durham College is a leader in sustainability. We work hard to create a green-friendly campus that puts the student experience first, while reducing our impact on the environment.”

Of the seven categories the building was evaluated on, the CFCE scored the highest in the Energy and Atmosphere category, receiving full points in energy performance optimization, underscoring the college’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. The CaGBC also awarded points for features such as the CFCE’s Green Cleaning policy, which requires the use of cleaning materials that have a low impact on the environment, and the implementation of a vegetated green roof and reflective roofing, which help reduce heat absorption.

“The use of natural daylighting, a focus on air quality, and the living wall are all aspects of the building that create an environment that encourages visitors to focus more fully and attentively on what they’re doing, whether they’re attending class, studying, or working,” said Alan Dunn, associate vice-president, Facilities and Ancillary Services. “Constructing a building that has achieved such a high standard in minimizing our environmental impact has also increased the knowledge base among our facilities team and raises the bar for ourselves and future projects.”

Located at the college’s Oshawa campus, the multi-level, 75,000-square-foot CFCE prioritizes the student experience and sustainability in all aspects of its design and function and is home to signature learning spaces including the 360insights Entrepreneurship Centre, Global Classroom, First Peoples Indigenous Centre and Durham College Spa.

LEED is a rating system that is recognized as the international mark of excellence for green building in over 160 countries. Since 2002, the CaGBC and LEED Canada have been redefining the buildings and communities where Canadians live, work and learn. Learn more at cagbc.org/LEED.


Bistro ‘67 named one of the 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in Canada

Durham College (DC) is proud to share that Bistro ‘67, the college’s full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant, has been named one of the 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in Canada for 2019. The accolade comes from OpenTable, the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations.

In July, OpenTable released its list of unique local restaurants that allow diners to take in the best views while they travel this summer, drawing upon more than 500,000 reviews from more than 3,000 restaurants. They then narrowed the field by looking at establishments that offer breathtaking views of nature, cityscapes or travel-worthy landmarks with top scores in overall diner rating, total number of reviews and overall regional rating.

Bistro ’67 was the only restaurant in Durham Region to make the list, and was one of 42 restaurants across Ontario to be selected. The resulting list highlights establishments that include everything from breathtaking mountain gorges to seaports off the east coast and everything in between, including DC’s field-to-fork-focused Bistro ‘67 – which boasts impressive views of the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food’s (CFF) agricultural planting fields and gardens.

Bistro ‘67 offers guests a memorable field-to-fork dining experience within DC’s multiple award-winning CFF where community, local agriculture and learning come together. Meals are prepared and served by skilled staff and students who create flavourful dishes inspired by fresh ingredients from the CFF’s own gardens and other local suppliers across Durham Region. A 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant, Bistro ‘67 also holds a Feast ON designation in recognition of its use of local food and beverage options. It is open Tuesday to Friday for lunch and Tuesday to Saturday for dinner.

To make a reservation, or learn more about Bistro ’67, please visit www.bistro67.ca.


From classroom to community – DC Social Service Worker student puts learning into action

“My student experience has just completely exploded into opportunity.”

Amanda Cowan, a second-year Social Service Worker (SSWK) student at Durham College (DC), can barely contain her excitement. She’s describing how she took her classroom learning into the community while participating in a recent “Day of Action” focused on developing solutions for local winter homelessness.

On June 21, Cowan joined a group of approximately 60 like-minded individuals from Durham Region service agencies, including the John Howard Society, the HOPE Coalition and other advocacy groups, and the greater unsheltered community for a brainstorming and planning session. The event was co-facilitated by Durham Mental Health Services, under the leadership of regional housing coordinator Doreen Hume McKenna, and hosted by the New Life Neighbourhood Centre in Oshawa.

The opportunity to take part and gain valuable real-world experience in her chosen field came to Cowan through an earlier event held as part of an ongoing partnership between the Regional Municipality of Durham, Social Services Department, and DC.

The two-day living lab, Co-production: Climbing the ladder of participation in public service delivery, focused on a new vision of public service, which involves an equal and reciprocal approach between service providers and people using public services. Funded by the DC International Research Fund, the event featured Dr. Stuart Muirhead, an international expert on co-production, from The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in Scotland.

“When my professor, Randy Uyenaka, put out the call for volunteers for the co-production event, I jumped at the opportunity,” recalls Cowan. “It sounded like a great opportunity to sit in a room with a bunch of people all thinking the same way about important issues.”

Her instincts paid off when being in the room for the co-production event and participating in a breakout session evolved into new opportunities. Along with eight other attendees, Cowan broke off from the co-production event to form a working group that would look at how the co-production model could be used to tackle homelessness in the region.

“The working group put out the invite to other community members and groups and the Day of Action on winter homelessness quickly started to take shape,” says Cowan. Participants were offered an honourarium and fed for the day, and together they generated an incredible amount of information.

“We identified problems first, then looked for solutions with an understanding that everything was on the table and there were no bad ideas.”

Cowan says the group is now moving into the action-potential stage.

“At the end of the day, there was the ability for people to continue to work towards the solutions that will affect them. Sign-up lists were circulated and people put their names down. Next, once they have their action articulated and approved, everyone will come back to unpack the solutions together. I’m helping to actually put co-production into action – while I’m still a student – by not doing to but doing with. We’re not downloading solutions to the unsheltered community, we’re creating solutions together.”

The project is particularly poignant for Cowan, who is bringing the lens of her own lived experience to bear on her studies as a mature student.

“I am so blessed and thankful to be a part of this fantastic project,” she shares. “These learning experiences are embodying all of the things I dreamed I’d be able to be involved in when I decided to go back to school. I see my work with the co-production model in particular to be the perfect pairing for my professional identity and my lived experience.  Through this project I’ve been able to sort out and fuse these two worlds. This was a special interest project for me and it has brought me more learning than I could ever have imagined.”

The success of the co-production event and its impact on students like Cowan are points of pride for Dr. Darren Levine as well. As the manager of Research and Innovation with the Regional Municipality of Durham, Dr. Levine recognizes the value of engaging the students who will form the next generation of social service workers and community leaders.

“The collaborative co-production project is one of many successful partnerships between our Innovation and Research Unit and Durham College’s Office of Research Services, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship [ORSIE],” says Levine. “Students were an integral part of the project, working not only to help coordinate the event, but also working in equal partnership with service providers, faculty, and community service providers throughout to co-create new insights and applications of co-production in social service delivery.”

The co-production event also reinforced the value and impact of participating in applied research for DC students.

“Students thrive when they are given an opportunity to learn through experience and contribute solutions to real-world problems in collaboration with community partners,” says ORSIE dean Debbie McKee Demczyk. “The skills and approaches students learn through applied research are ones that they can continue to draw on throughout their careers.”

For Cowan, participating in both co-production events has had a dramatic impact on her career outlook.

“The energy and focus in those rooms were kind of magical,” she says. “Participating in these events has really opened up my professional world. It’s expanded my view of the kind of work I’m interested in pursuing and helped me develop a huge professional network very quickly.”

It’s this connection between classroom and community that means the most to Cowan as she continues moving towards her career goals.


DC to launch new Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Science

Durham College (DC) has received consent from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to offer a new Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Science (BBS). Based at the college’s Oshawa campus and beginning in September 2020, the Honours BBS will be DC’s second degree program following the successful launch of the Honours Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management in 2018.

“Ontario is seeing an increasing incidence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children and youth, dementia in seniors, as well as individuals with addictions and acquired brain injuries,” said Dr. Judeline Innocent, executive dean of DC’s School of Health & Community Services (HCS). “As agencies and long-term care facilities prepare for the increasing numbers in these client populations, the need for more qualified professionals in the areas of health, community and social services will also increase. With the Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Science, our graduates will be ready to not only meet this need but become leaders in these fields as well.”

Offering a comprehensive mix of courses which balance theory and practice, the Honours BBS program of study will focus on six themes:

  • Applied Behaviour Analysis
  • Populations
  • Psychology
  • Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy
  • Research Methods and Design
  • Ethics and Professionalism

Students will complete a final thesis project and gain vital work experience in a professional setting through a 420-hour supervised field placement completed between the seventh and eighth semesters. Graduates will be prepared to work with individuals of all ages within a variety of health and community settings, helping people with addictions and mental health challenges, acquired brain injuries, dementia and pervasive developmental disabilities, including ASD.

“The Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Science is another example of Durham College delivering innovative programs in direct response to an identified need,” said DC president Don Lovisa. “It also demonstrates the value of the college maintaining close ties with industry and community partners.”

Under the leadership of the college’s HCS administration and faculty, the Honours BBS program was developed with guidance from psychologists, community and social service agencies, municipal services representatives, mental health workers and psychogeriatric services.

“The Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Science will provide graduates with professional competencies that link the scientific, clinical, communication and ethical aspects of behavioural science,” said program coordinator Mary Helen Leddy. “This will ensure our graduates develop a breadth of knowledge, skills and judgement to increase their opportunities both in terms of employment and future studies.”

As part of the program’s development, DC has articulated diploma-to-degree transfer pathways for graduates in three of the college’s existing programs: Child and Youth Care, Developmental Services Worker and Social Service Worker. These pathways provide eligible graduates from each of the identified diploma programs advanced standing in the Honours BBS program of study, affording an opportunity for them to complete the degree in a reduced amount of time or at a reduced course load.


Castles, Cameras and Canvases: Durham College students focus on Ireland’s rich culture

Ten students from the School of Media, Art & Design embarked on a journey of discovery, exploring Ireland’s rich history, art and culture while honing their photography and videography skills.

Students from Photography, Video Production and Contemporary Web Design, joined professors Linda Cheng and Brian Stephens on the Emerald Isle and explored the culture and history of Ireland through a variety of unique, experiential and customized media projects.

“Ireland has a rich history of visual arts,” said Cheng. “The history and culture of Ireland catalyzed students’ reflections on music, art, photography and digital content.”

Each student built a discipline-specific project based on both the readings assigned to them pre-departure, and their experiences abroad. While applying the skills they learned in their respective programs, students engaged in an evening of Irish folk music, visited the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum (the world’s only fully digitized museum) and ventured into The Long Room Library—one of the greatest libraries in the world, used as a set for several films, including Harry Potter.

Emily Moroz, a student in the Video Production program, said of her experience abroad “It was a great opportunity to improve my video skills while learning about the history and culture of Ireland.” She went on to say “Having some free time during the trip gave us a chance to explore and capture some good video content. It was a good experience which will definitely help me in my future career.”

The 10-day trip included visits to monuments and points of interest, including: The legendary St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Bunratty Castle, Kilmainham Gaol museum and the scenic countryside of County Kerry, where they learned about Irish farm life.

DC’s international reach doesn’t stop with Ireland. Many faculty-led trips have already been approved for next year in Peru, and Guatemala, cementing DC’s commitment to experiential learning.

For more information on how to get involved, please contact Lisa Shepard, dean, International Education.


DC students go from touring to building the new Whitby campus residence

What began as an opportunity to see a building site up close, quickly evolved into summer employment for four students in Durham College’s Building Construction Technician program.

One moment they were touring the site of DC’s new residence with 31 of their fellow classmates and now they are helping to build it – doubling down on the already enriching experiential learning opportunity the site visit offered.

Many of the first and second-year students in the program had never been on a job site, let alone a multi-level build like the Whitby campus residence. From seeing the foundations and framing that form the structure of the residence, to identifying the related components and how they interact to prevent moisture and air infiltration and provide structural integrity and fire-resistance properties, the students were able to see the pages of their text books come to life in a real, concrete way.

It was during the tour that Pannonia Construction, the contractor building the residence, approached DC professor Al Martin about hiring summer students to work onsite. Information about the job opportunity was shared amongst the first and second-year students. Four were successful and are taking their skills from the classroom to the jobsite, honing their knowledge and building their resumes.

The Whitby residence will be open to students in September 2019.