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DC celebrates opening of Energy Innovation Centre and completion of geothermal field

On October 22, Durham College (DC) celebrated the completion of its geothermal field and grand opening of its Energy Innovation Centre (EIC), which together leverage clean, sustainable underground thermal energy for the heating and cooling of the college’s Gordon Willey building.

“This facility is such a great addition to our Oshawa campus,” said Marianne Marando, associate vice-president, Academic at DC. “Not only will the Energy Innovation Centre work in tandem with our green initiatives to reduce the college’s carbon footprint, but it will do so while providing our students with a unique living lab that offers both a self-guided learning experience for all students and experiential learning opportunities for students in select programs.”

Stephane Chayer, vice-president of Smart Infrastructure at Siemens Canada spoke on behalf of the organization at the opening and presented DC with a cheque for $27,500 – a grant awarded via the Siemens Empower Sustainability Education program that will further assist DC in its applied learning student opportunities. Siemens Canada is the primary contractor and industry partner for the geothermal project and EIC and provided valuable expertise throughout the entire process.

“We’re very appreciative of our relationship with Durham College and proud that they chose Siemens as their partner to help make the geothermal field and Energy Innovation Centre a reality,” said Stephane Chayer, vice-president of Smart Infrastructure, Siemens Canada. “DC is a trailblazing Ontario institution in its commitment to sustainability leadership, innovation and applied learning – we’re confident that this project positively contributes to Durham’s energy transformation on campus.” 

Open to students, employees and the public, the EIC facility provides an exhibit-like atmosphere where visitors can learn more about how the geothermal system works through signage and interactive touch screen monitors that feature system diagrams and performance metrics. Additionally, a real-time energy dashboard provides insight on campus energy savings and the reduction of associated greenhouse gas emissions.

This project is just part of the ongoing transformation of DC’s energy infrastructure to support and implement sustainably focused initiatives on campus. This past year, the college’s Centre for Collaborative Education achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED®) Gold level certification. Additionally, DC was named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the third consecutive year in a row.

For more information on how the geothermal system at DC works, check out the video below created by Siemens Canada.


DC students create wayfinding tool for Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

Durham College (DC), with TeachingCity Oshawa, is proud to announce the launch of new Augmented Reality (AR) technology to encourage the community to explore and learn about the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens.

The community can now use their smartphone cameras, to scan Quick Response (QR) codes placed on signage throughout the park to learn about the park, points of interest and utilize a navigation guide between landmarks.

 “The innovative experiential learning opportunities created through Durham College’s partnership with TeachingCity give students the chance to investigate and problem solve, strengthening the skills they learn in the classroom,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “This augmented reality wayfinding app is just one example of the incredible things that are possible when we leverage the talent of our students and faculty in partnership with and in support of our community.”

Students researched, designed and created the AR platform as part of a TeachingCity partnership with the City of Oshawa and the Durham College’s (DC) Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship and School of Media, Art and Design. This was a pilot project that will be enhanced through future collaborations with DC students. The City and the College are also exploring the possibility of expanding the technology to include other City parks.


DC students and faculty travel to Guatemala to support the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals

On Friday, October 4, students and faculty from Durham College’s (DC) School of Media, Art & Design will travel for ten days to rural regions of Guatemala as part of a new digital storytelling program, called Youth United 2030, contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The program is being delivered in partnership with a Canadian charity, Students Offering Support (SOS), which has facilitated youth service-learning programs throughout Latin America since 2008.

With the support of faculty member, and former CBC journalist, Danielle Harder, students from DC’s Video Production and Journalism – Mass Media/Journalism programs are part of a faculty-led classroom abroad, where they will utilize the skills learned in their programs to deliver interactive training workshops for 35 low-income Guatemalan youth to learn about using digital storytelling techniques as a tool for change. In addition to delivering workshops participants have fundraised to donate iPads so youth participants from the host communities will have access to technology to put the training into action. A second cohort of DC students will be travelling to Guatemala in February, alongside Harder, to deliver follow-up training opportunities, and continue producing new media content, as part of the ongoing program.

Upon the students’ return from Guatemala, the students will turn their interviews and video footage into short documentaries offering cross-cultural perspectives on the SDGs.

“Youth United is all about reciprocal exchange. It empowers Durham College students to build their cross-cultural competencies alongside their technical skills, while experiencing how the knowledge they’re learning through their studies can make a difference on issues that matter,” said Harder. She and her students recently won an international PIEoneer Award for real-life learning for a film project in 2018 that engaged them in global issues through documenting a development program led by Canadian colleges in Kenya.

DC and SOS began working together after a connection was forged at a National conference co-organized by Academica and Academics Without Borders, called “Reaching Across Borders, Building a Better World”.  Lisa Shepard, DC’s dean of International Education, had this to say about the new program: “We believe in global competency as a critical 21st-century learning skill. Durham College supports education abroad initiatives such as faculty-led classrooms abroad, which provide opportunities for students to expand their learning beyond their traditional classrooms by taking part in an international learning experience. At Durham College we embed internalization in everything we do, both by bringing the world to DC, and by bringing DC to the world. Our students are so excited to meet their Guatemalan counterparts and have already learned so much”.

James Arron, executive director of SOS echoed the importance of the educational sector’s role in achieving the SDGs. “By linking together the needs of our Guatemalan partners and capacity of Durham College, we have been able to create a truly win-win solution for everyone involved. It’s a great example of how the post-secondary sector can be a leader in helping achieve the SDGs. Kudos to Durham College for stepping up as a pioneer in that movement.”


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.


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.


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.


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.