Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, WIMTACH has continued its efforts to support its Student Researchers to gain experiential learning, job opportunities, employable skills and industry knowledge of digital health sectors. This series will highlight how students and faculty who work with WIMTACH are managing the ongoing changes to their daily lives.
For Oleksandr Palchevskyi, Game Programming student, the best part about working from home is not needing to commute to an office. “..As there is no more office, you start working as soon as you feel up for it.” However, this advantage has come with a price – the challenge of communication.
“As each person has a different schedule, it’s always hard to keep up to date with the latest project updates and coordinate your actions with other people. Now, you can’t just go up to someone’s desk and say “hey, can you work on this now?””
This is the balancing act Centennial College students like Oleksandr are trying to maintain as the efforts to contain and slow down the COVID-19 virus continue. The act has required them to become familiar with their homes in a new way, and they, like the rest of the world, aren’t sure when they can stop.
Even though Oleksandr is currently completing the co-op portion of his program, a few weeks ago, balancing his studies and his work was “a big concern”. “As deadlines were coming closer, the intensity of work increased dramatically…To balance my work I usually separated days when I worked on assignments with days that I worked on WIMTACH projects.” Now, a steady routine is priority, and his work with WIMTACH has been an important aspect of that.
“[Working with WIMTACH during the pandemic] means a possibility to grow without a break [that would leave me without ongoing job experience]…WIMTACH helped me to organize my day, by scheduling meetings at a comfortable time for me. I never had a problem attending those as the schedule is always discussed with the team.”
His latest project was for Northline Canada, where he helped create a low energy surveillance device. It was here where he gained an appreciation for how many people there are to learn from while working at WIMTACH. Not only are Centennial College students learning from each other and WIMTACH senior members, they’re also learning from industry professionals; everyone provides support, networking opportunities and unique insights into what a career in a chosen industry might look like. He uses his fellow WIMTACH Student Researcher Keshav Joshi as an example.
“He was developing a mobile application for the project and I was working on software for android box and raspberry pi. We managed to develop great communication between us and collaboratively develop new algorithms that allow us to send big data chunks over Bluetooth that was not possible before. The most important thing I learned about project management is that it is important to have a common understanding of the project goals.”
The Principal Investigator of the project, professor Robert G. Wickson of SETAS, was another source of learning.
“As he was a professional in getting mechanical and electronic things and my study was mostly focused on software development, he helped and educated me a lot on how to use and connect together an android box with the camera and how to make those things work together. Same to that, later in the project, when the decision was taken to switch to raspberry pi microcomputer, Professor helped me a lot with getting started on code development in Python. After this project finished, this experience and knowledge that I gained from the professor helped me a lot to start with my own projects.”
These previous experiences have prepared him to cope well with the uncertainty of the pandemic. The learning and support systems at WIMTACH increase confidence within himself. He knows he can rely on the people he works with to help steer him in the right direction.
“After work at WIMTACH, I had another thought about my career and changed my plans according to what I plan to become in the future. WIMTACH helped me a lot by providing experience in various fields that I never considered before. This experience made me interested in those fields and probably I will persuade my career in those directions. I can try myself as a full-time developer, polishing my skills and solving real-world problems.”
Currently, he’s working on several CVTA and NSERC projects with clients such as MaxTV and Namena. Once his co-op is completed, he will dedicate his summer semester to another project involving healthcare IT and electronic medical records.
His advice to students who are struggling during this time is to take short breaks for exercises. “This will help you keep your mind sharp.”
For more information on WIMTACH projects and services, please visit https://wimtach.centennialcollege.ca/
For updates on WIMTACH’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit https://mailchi.mp/d9a20aac07f0/covid-19-update