Computer Networking Students Get Real-World Experience

Students meet with client Jeff Pyke at Integrity HD to explain next steps in their testing process.
Students meet with client Jeff Pyke at Integrity HD to explain next steps in their testing process.
From left to right: Wayne Hall, Justin Sparnaay, Jeff Pyke (IT Manager, Integrity HD), Justin Leighton and Ryan Soulliere

(Windsor, Ontario) – Thanks to an Ontario Centre of Excellence grant, third year students in the Computer Systems Technology - Networking program are getting hands on experience in industry before they graduate. More than 50 students are participating in a Capstone Technical Project which partners them with a local company to test, analyze and make recommendations on the company's IT infrastructure. While this project has been in existence for a few years, the $40,000 Innovation and Validation Assistance Program grant provided funding for the program that allowed the program to expand the number of businesses who can participate.

The funding also allowed the program faculty to purchase tablets and other equipment for student use as they track their projects and make regular reports to their peer groups and their faculty. "Having the tablets has been a huge advantage for us as a group," says Ryan Soulliere, one of the students currently placed at Integrity HD, a local tool and mould company. "The entire experience is one of the highlights of the program because you work in a real-world setting and get to make recommendations to the client directly, through major presentations at the end of the semester."

A team of four students are thrilled to be working with an Alumni of the program. Jeff Pyke, IT Manager at Integrity HD graduated just two years ago from the program. He knows first hand how important this project is for graduating students. "I had the opportunity to work for Integrity on a part time basis while I was in school. I was able to do my third year project with the company and was fortunate enough to be hired full time when I graduated. That is the power of this particular project, employers get to see students in action."

While the on-site analysis project has been in place for a few years, the grant afforded the faculty in the program the opportunity to expand the project to include small and medium sized businesses. "We were able to hire a program co-ordinator for this project who has been instrumental in getting more companies involved in this project ," says John Sanderson, Faculty member and third year project lead in the Computer Networking program. "The interest has been terrific and we now have a waiting list of companies for our 2017 projects."