"The reason why we wanted to do an impact expo is originally it was designed to be a career promotion event for video gaming and interactive multi-media," said Mike Gillis ITAP innovation director. "Several years ago I had a conversation with a program officer from Innovation P.E.I. and he asked could we do something fun and interactive to promote the video gaming sector on Prince Edward Island. "So, we put together a steering committee and we came up with the idea of putting together a number of hands-on interactive type activities to bring either junior high or high school students into, at that time, the Atlantic Technology Centre."
Gillis said a number of expos were held in Charlottetown but organizers found the travel distances were quite far for students in jurisdictions that were outside of the city. So, we started to reach out and bring the impact expo to other centres," he said. "This is the second time we've had an impact expo in Summerside. We've also had one in Alberton at the new Holland College campus. "This is the first one that we've actually had double sectors being featured. "We've always been promoting video gaming. We're going to be having a focus for this particular one on e-health. "Summerside has been designated as an e-health centre on Prince Edward Island and this building, the Holman building, in is the hub of that sub-sector for P.E.I." Holland College is beginning a Computer Information Systems program out of their new Summerside campus and it's going to have an e-health component.
"We're trying to support that program by exposing high school students to that particular sector and hopefully, they'll consider it as a career option," Gillis said. The impact expo has been well received by educators and students and the industry. "We find that the model works really because it's so hands-on," he said. "The students learn how to draw art for the video gaming industry or they program a 3-D game.
For this Summerside expo we're doing they're going to hear from a Prince Edward Island e-health pioneer, Dave Perry from Radnet, and he's going to be talking about all of the opportunities that are here right in Summerside. "We find it has a lot of attraction for kids because video gaming is fun and e-health is really interesting. It takes the kind of technology they're use to using and puts a spin on it that it's a career option."
Gillis said other business sectors want to adapt the impact expo program to promote their sector to young people as well. "I think this is the way for career promotion," he said. "We've been going to trade shows and booths and that's fine but we get a much better response from this because the kids actually get their hands on it and use it.
"We give a pretty strong message about the opportunities and the educational options mainly here on the Island but also off-Island opportunities if they so choose." He said many of the programs that these students would take for video gaming or e-health are heavily based in programming. "All sub-sectors of IT require programmers," Gillis said. "It's one of the greatest demands that we have. "They may enter to become a video game developer or programmer and in their lifetime they're probably going to move into other opportunities in other sub-sectors. It's a great entry point."