At Red River College’s (RRC) ACE Project Space in Winnipeg, students work with early stage entrepreneurs and communities to solve real business challenges using the latest technologies. While the students get to refine their skills by problem solving for the real world, communities and entrepreneurs get to work with cutting-edge talent.
“It’s an incredible experience for our students,” Haider Al-Saidi, chair of Applied Computer Education, said in an interview with RRC News, “There are nearly 45 students working in teams and up to 15 entrepreneurs or start-ups working out of the space each semester. Operating for all three semesters of the school year allows the program to provide solutions to up to 45 businesses a year.”
Entrepreneurs in Residence at ACE Project Space allows students to come up with ideas for real companies, such as Due North Systems. Students worked with Due North Systems to create and implement online programs to help recruit and facilitate tutors. Students have also partnered with Go Oil in order to develop new software that allows company clients to book appointments, select services, and make payments all online.
Young Canadians are eager to use their skills and energy on projects that make a difference, and RRC’s ACE Project Space provides students with valuable opportunities, including:
Meaningful Work Experience
“Getting hired with minimal or no work experience continues to be a struggle for university and college graduates” says Senior Director, Youth Strategy & Innovation at RBC Mark Beckles. “That’s why RBC Future Launch supports ACE Project Space.” Ace Project Space and programs like Future Launch can help prepare young Canadians to enter the job market. In addition to having a resumé with practical experience upon graduation, many of the students in the ACE Project Space will also have a product they helped build to show prospective employers.
In addition to applying the knowledge gained through study, being immersed in a work environment may help students to develop “soft skills” such as problem solving, interpersonal communications, teamwork, and time management. Students can develop skills in a number of different areas as the program conducts research for solutions to real world problems, acts a testing centre for certifications, and partners student teams with entrepreneurs in need.
Interacting with real businesses and organizations early on in school may help students build confidence. This program helps reinforce students’ competence by making them part of development teams. Some students at ACE start as early as high school — there are currently four high school students working out of the space twice a week in order to develop a registration systems for high schools in Winnipeg.
Understanding Career Options
Working with professionals on a variety of projects may provide students with ways to try out potential careers while still in school. Through their experience at ACE Project Space, students may become more clear on defining their intended career path. In fact, Stephen Lawrence, ACE Project Space Coordinator says that, “Students often get hired by the entrepreneurs they work with.”
Developing professional relationships and business networks can be a critical skill for anyone entering the job market. The ACE Project Space has a number of business committees with industry professionals to help guide students and to provide students with networking opportunities while in school.
Building on the success of the ACE Project Space, RRC and RBC are committed to growing the capacity of initiatives like this with the college’s new Innovation Centre. Ongoing support from RBC Future Launch will help create adaptable classrooms, collaboration spaces, student services, and an auditorium seating more than 200 people.
Find out more about how RBC supports Youth.
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