Parker: Bow Valley College eyes expansion amid rising enrolment, program offerings

So much is happening at Bow Valley College, president and CEO Misheck Mwaba says an additional 300,000 square feet of space could be put to good use

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Bow Valley College has a huge presence in the downtown, with two large campus buildings across from each other on 6th Avenue S.E. But there is an urgent need for expansion as enrolment continues to climb and additional programs are being added and updated to address labour market needs.

The college boasts a graduate employment rate of 90 per cent, outperforming both Ontario and British Columbia colleges.

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The School of Health and Wellness, in the North Campus, is particularly busy as the demand for more practitioners in nursing care is acute. Currently, 600 students are eager to start their courses as 600 others complete their journey to become effective and compassionate health-care providers — the largest enrolment in practical nursing in Canada.

BVC has been able to offset the required clinical hours — it is becoming harder to find placements in hospitals — by using the latest technology. Thanks to a research grant from Alberta Innovates, BVC is well equipped with technology that helps students through a virtual reality simulation centre and four AI-equipped labs.

A large VR screen takes students into a hospital room to diagnose the needs of the patient in bed, zeroing in on any part of the body. Donning headsets, three students work in a team or individually from anywhere in the college. The use of AI makes it possible to talk to a patient simulator mannequin to ask how they feel, and take their temperature, pulse and heart rate to help determine any problems.

The practical nursing diploma course is a five-term program in areas including continuing care, home and acute care, maternity, pediatrics and mental health. It prepares students to consolidate knowledge and build professional competencies and critical thinking strategies in situations that challenge and nurture health-care practitioner abilities.

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The South Campus is home to the Centre for Entertainment Arts. There, students can obtain a diploma in advanced film production, comprising the five principal domains of live-action film development — directing, producing, design, cinematography and post production — and also in advanced game development, providing advanced skill sets in both art and programming. Areas include environment and character modelling, texturing, animation, game programming, AI and more.

It currently accommodates 240 students, but there are many more who would like to take the courses.

BVC recently added a program for e-sports business management that teaches the organizing and running of e-sports events. The college plans to open a sports arena on the second floor this winter to hold competitive video game competitions, both for students and the general public.

Calgary’s growing e-sports community will be able to rent the arena for competitions — community nights are to be held along with organized leagues. And BVC intends to sponsor its own e-sports team.

E-sports has become one of the fastest growing global industries with worldwide competitions earning more than $1 billion in revenues. Next month’s Edmonton Gaming Expo is expected to draw 40,000 attendees over the three-day event that is expected to bring in up to $18 million in revenues to the city.

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The Centre for Entertainment Arts is also planning to support startup companies in gaming, film and TV, and e-sports.

So much is happening at Bow Valley College, president and CEO Misheck Mwaba says an additional 300,000 square feet of space could be put to good use. The college is at capacity with classes being run Monday through Saturday to 9 p.m.

Naturally, the choice locations for a new building are close by the college, cementing a bustling presence in the downtown that offers support to the core, with 1,400 staff and more than 15,000 students who make good use of bus and LRT transit.

Notes:

Calgary-born, internationally recognized visual artist and designer Geoff McFetridge will be awarded an honorary master of fine arts degree at Alberta University of the Arts’ 2024 convocation ceremony on May 23. Now living and working in Los Angeles, McFetridge received his bachelor of fine arts from the Alberta College of Art and Design (now AUArts) in 1993, and his master of fine arts from the California Institute of the Arts in 1995.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622.

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