Laurier holds 44th annual Universities Computing Conference


Photo by Fani Hsieh
Photo by Fani Hsieh

From May 8-10, Wilfrid Laurier University welcomed over 250 attendees for the Ontario Universities Computing Conference (OUCC).

The 44th annual conference brought together numerous computer technology professionals from all over Ontario.

Since 1970, the conference has given IT professionals a chance to share and facilitate ideas surrounding IT initiatives in higher education.This year’s theme, ‘IT @ a Crossroads,’ was decided after realizing that many academic institutions, including Laurier, encounter many of the same challenges that education IT departments face in modern society.

“We really are at a crossroad; enrolment is shrinking. The numbers are not helping us. Government funding is not a staple anymore. Technologies are changing very, very rapidly,” said Andres Diaz, manager of ICT projects at Laurier and member of the organizing committee.

Over 250 individuals attended the conference, a higher number than the average attendance rate.

“We’re fortunate because we got Waterloo up the street, Guelph close by, all the Toronto schools, Western, so we’re pretty well-situated to get pretty much everybody,” said Nela Petkovic, Laurier’s chief information officer in ICT and one of the organizers of this year’s OUCC.

The conference featured IT experts from Laurier and other academic institutions in Ontario, along with faculty members and chief information officers, among many others.

“It was a really wide range presentation of IT professionals from all universities,” said Diaz.

OUCC featured several keynote speakers, including opening speaker Ken Steels, a PSE futurist at Eduvation who explored the trends that are reshaping politics, policies and priorities.

Closing keynote speaker Jaime Leal, an entrepreneur and humanitarian relief volunteer, used his experience of being kidnapped to teach others about connecting with people and how to react in difficult situations.

The conference also featured 28 sessions that related back to the evolving culture surrounding IT.

According to Allison Dias, ICT project and administrative coordinator and member of the organizing committee, OUCC was hosted at Laurier as a way to showcase the university’s leadership in audio-visual and information technology.

“We jumped at the offer to host the conference since we thought it’d be really nice to showcase what Laurier did,” she said.

So far the organizers have received positive testimonials from several universities on the success of the conference.

“It was a fantastic conference and you and the other organizers deserve kudos for arranging everything so well,” said Scott Gallimore, an assistant professor and undergraduate advisor at Laurier.

Since the Canadian Higher Education Information Technology Conference (CANHEIT) will be coming to Ontario next year, the next OUCC conference will be held at Laurentian University in 2018.

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