Since the 1980s, Theo Mitchell has always had a passion for IT. To add more security to his life, however, he decided to become a Civil Engineer, abandoning his passion for decades, until 2017. He and his wife decided to migrate to Canada so that he could pivot back to the IT industry and pursue a career as a software developer. This is how he found Centennial College, which he successfully enrolled in to study Software Engineering and Technology.
In his last semester, Theo was looking for an opportunity to gain more project-based, Canadian work experience. His professor, Dr. Mehrdad Tirandazian, who teaches software engineering, was the one who first introduced him to WIMTACH.
Dr. Tirandazian teaches Software Engineering at Centennial College. Dr. Tirandazian holds a Master of Science degree and a PhD, both in Computer Science. He has published several research papers, and he has over 10 years experience teaching in several departments, including computer science and applied science and technology.
“I had Professor Mehrdad and he invited me to assemble a team to work for a project. I assembled a team and we started working there. It was amazing because we learned everything from theory and put it into practice…”
The project was for WIMTACH client, PR Department, a communications company that helps businesses achieve their marketing and communications objectives by becoming part of their internal public relations department in an innovative way. The company needed web application expertise to make their website more user-friendly, detailed and easy to navigate. It was Theo’s first project and first Canadian working experience in his field. And since he was in charge of assembling the team, he chose people with frontend and backend web development experience, who happened to be his friends.
“Me and Fernando and Mariia were amazing together. All three of us completed each other in that we each knew something we could teach the other person. It was an amazing journey.”
However, balancing school and work was not easy for Theo, who wanted to make sure that he graduated with high honours.
“It was tough because it was my last term…I think the most important thing for me was to have a routine. When you set a goal, you create a plan and then you have a routine. I decided how many hours I was going to work and how many hours I was going to study and where. This was key to my success because [it meant that] I could finish the project…”
WIMTACH projects are highly collaborative for this reason. The experiential learning is supportive of and beneficial to those involved on applied research projects. The projects provide an opportunity to learn from peers, gain real-world experience solving industry problems and apply their classroom knowledge. When Theo started working on the PR Department project, he “went back to his professors and they advised me” on how to manage his time, organize his tasks and work efficiently. He also referred back to notes he took in class if he was learning something new, in addition to using online resources.
From August to December of last year, Theo moved closer and closer towards his career goals, one of which is improving his communications skills. “The improvements in my communication skills in English, because Portuguese is my first language, was very good for me…I never actually developed a whole project before without knowledge and theory; it was a completely different experience that also improved my network…”
Despite being on a different path, Theo is putting his time to good use by creating his own learning experience that has, at its foundation, the experiential learning process of WIMTACH.
“When we’re in College, we’re doing the assignments and tests and those things are important for us to develop our knowledge on a subject. But when you go and start doing something that’s much more than the assignment, the challenge is much bigger because we learn how to do the work by searching for whatever we need and putting it in practice.”
Theo would like to acknowledge the people who contributed greatly to his success:
- Wife and family
- WIMTACH Staff
- Professor Merdhad, Professor Narendra Pershad
- Team members: Mariia Staforkina and Fernando Martins
- Success Advisor: Bhakti Banjara
- Learning Centre: Jessica Haddon and Patty Calder
- Learning Strategist: Marlyn Husbands