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Originally published in Star Metro Vancouver
With the recent launch of a Computer Systems Technology diploma program, Vancouver Community College (VCC) is helping to meet the growing demand for computer systems technologists.
“Vancouver is a particularly interesting place because the city and the province are investing quite a bit in this industry so it’s flourishing,” says Reza Nezami, VCC’s computer systems technology department head. “Our program is comprehensive in that students gain what they need to enter junior developer positions when they graduate or go on to get a degree. We’re currently working with local universities to create pathways for them to be able to do that if they wish.”
A full-time offering, the program’s face-to-face delivery includes blended learning modes with instructional strategies such as classroom lectures, demonstrations, group discussions, computer labs, and hands-on practical work. Overall, courses are project-driven with students spending a majority of their time in purpose-built labs.
“Our labs are very much set up to mimic a real-world environment with hubs of three to four students sitting around dual-monitor PCs,” says Nezami. “This type of collaborative approach teaches students the team skills and soft skills to understand customers’ needs and to execute.”
To incorporate industry interaction, VCC will use its network of external industry partners and will acquire new partnerships to challenge students to find solutions to various client issues or implement real-world projects. Nezami says the possibilities for the types of projects students will complete will vary by client needs.
Overall, computer systems technologists solve computer-related issues for businesses, government agencies, utilities, law enforcement agencies, health services providers, educational institutions, and more. Program graduates will be able to specialize in areas such as programming, software design, mobile application programming, data communications, security, and web design.
“They can start in three major branches,” says Nezami. “Network administration, where they’ll manage a smaller company’s computer network; junior web development in small companies looking for full-stack developers who understand front and back-end design; and mobile applications development, which is a mix of software and web development with an emphasis on smaller screens and devices. The opportunities for graduates are promising.”