Whether they are learning how to test a computer network for vulnerabilities in order to understand computer security, building a virtual machine to test software compatibility or coding a robotic arm, students in Medicine Hat College’s (MHC) information technology (IT) program continue to get hands-on learning opportunities.
For Steve Letkeman, program coordinator, providing an environment in which students can explore and challenge themselves is essential to preparing them for the workplace.
“Thanks to our IT department we recently attained two server racks. Having equipment like this provides our students advantages in a number of ways. It allows them to practice installing and configuring equipment into the rack, and also provides us with computing power to host virtual machines that are used in teaching a number of courses.”
There are two majors within the program including software and internet development, as well as technology support, however learners gain experience in a wide-array of areas.
In particular, courses like emerging technologies enable students to gear their learning to what interests them, explains Letkeman.
“This course allows our students to choose whatever topic they want, whether it’s learning different computer languages, trying out hardware like robotics or quadcopters, or building modern vehicle diagnostic systems. Their education is in their hands.”
The technology instructor mentions that when a student expresses an interest, faculty are quick to support their learning.
“New opportunities often present themselves in the technology industry. We recently had a student express interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency. We worked closely with them, and in doing so learned a lot ourselves and had the opportunity to create a module for future students.”
Ryan John Tidalgo, a second year IT student says the flexibility and mentorship from his instructors helps ensure that his experience, and resume, are aligned with his career objectives.
“The instructors have definitely helped me along. They all have different ways to teach their students, and their approach provides flexibility in both what you learn and how you spend your time. This program is helping me prepare for my future by adding to my experience and resume. It has enhanced my capabilities.”
Tidalgo is currently working on a microcontroller with LED lights, knowledge he hopes to apply to both a joint venture with a friend and to a personal project that will enable him to test servers.
Also integrated into the course is a co-op program, which allows students to gain relevant work experience and design their learning outcomes to an employer or industry of choice.
‘There are a number of local businesses that hire the individuals that participate in our co-op program,” says Letkeman. “Through the experience, our students learn things like workplace etiquette and organizational and team structure. They also get an idea of skills or computer languages that are required to work with that particular company, or one like it. It’s a really beneficial component of the program.”
Letkeman adds he is thankful for both industry and college support, which has enabled them to expand their program offerings. For more information about the IT program and how you can either apply to or get involved with it, visit www.mhc.ab.ca.
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