The Regina District Industry Education Council (RDIEC) is a non-profit corporation made up of retired teachers who are passionate about connecting students with future opportunities. Although the group was originally running live events for students to learn about different industries and potential career paths, COVID-19 presented a new challenge to navigate. Seeing how much of a difference these events made for kids, Gordon Heidel, Renette Edgar, and Doug Sthamann partnered with Innovation Saskatchewan and Strategy Lab shifted to create an online experience that introduced students to a variety of local tech careers, companies, and education pathways called the Sask Tech Series.
“Out of challenge comes opportunity. Going virtual can be a scary thing, but it’s made a big difference,” Gordon Heidel shares. “It has opened up a world of possibilities that kids didn’t have access to before. For some students, distance was a huge barrier to attending in-person events, but those barriers are gone. For our team, going virtual has also eliminated the need to limit the number of students able to attend.”
The Sask Tech Series is a video playlist found on the RDIEC YouTube channel that captures stories of technology that is being developed right here in Saskatchewan. The series enlightens students with what is happening in our province's tech sector, how tech innovation impacts every sector of the economy, and presents potential opportunities in the industry.
The interviews are a valuable resource for teachers to supplement their classes and help integrate tech entrepreneurship into the curriculum. “All of the science curriculums including the Computer Science have been redone, and there are new career modules in each one,” Renette Edgar explains. “This series fits well the new career module, and we get to highlight some of the great tech entrepreneurs in our province.”
“The beauty of these virtual resources is they can be accessed anytime and from anywhere,” Heidel adds. “By providing students with success stories from across Saskatchewan, we are able to highlight the opportunities in the tech sector.”
Videos in the playlist include speaking about Saskatchewan tech opportunities from Aaron Genest (SaskTech) & Sean O’Connor (Conexus VC Fund), health tech from Jeremy Foster (Lumeca), Indigenous-led Tech from Denis Carigan (Plato Sask), Machine Learning & AI Automation from Sam Dietrich (SightScale), UX / UI Design from Conor Christie (Krugo), female founders from Jessica McNaughton (CEO, memoryKPR) & Taylor Fox (CTO, memoryKPR), interactive media from Dwayne Melcher (Melcher Studio), ag tech from Marco Copolla (Raven Industries), and game development from Stephanie Boon (HR, 54e Dev Studios) & Tim Borgares (Tech Entrepreneur, 54e Dev Studios).
Started in 2013, the RDIEC was formed to connect education with business and real-world industries. By supporting students through a community lens, the council has been helping students learn about careers before they graduate, so that they can make informed decisions as they transition to post-secondary or the world of work. “We’ve seen the positive impact of connecting students with local people working in areas of interest,” Heidel states. “Providing students with access to experience and real-world information enables students to make informed decisions before they graduate. The goal is for students to embrace their decisions because if they own it, they’ll love it.”
Making the Sask Tech Series virtual has expanded RDIEC’s reach significantly. By promoting the playlist through guidance counselors, computer science teachers, and school newsletters, there is the potential to reach thousands of students across the province. RDIEC is proud to be releasing these resources to students in Saskatchewan. Partnering with Innovation Saskatchewan and local media company, Strategy Lab, has been instrumental in facilitating, producing, and distributing the video interviews.
“It has been a real pleasure to work with Kaitlin Sherven from Innovation Saskatchewan to put this series together,” Heidel goes on. “We also need to thank Jeph Maystruck and Brandon Wu from Strategy Lab for their assistance in producing these videos. It was also truly amazing how supportive and accommodating the speakers were when they were asked to be part of this project.”
“We have a lot of talented people here in Saskatchewan and it is impressive to see the innovation that is taking place,” Heidel says. “We are passionate about helping students to make informed decisions about their futures and hope that this series helps to inspire future tech champions in the province. We know we are making a difference and that is what keeps us going.”
Sask Tech Series: Presented by RDEIC
Founders: Regina District Industry Education Council, Innovation Saskatchewan, Strategy Lab
Contributers: 6 Gordon Heidel (RDIEC) Renette Edgar (RDIEC), Doug Sthamann (RDIEC), Kaitlin Sherven (Innovation Saskatchewan), Jeph Maystruck (Strategy Lab), Brandon Woo (Strategy Lab)