University of British Columbia Okanagan July 8th to 11th

Keynote Speakers 

Over the course of the conference students will have the opportunity to attend up to seven plenary presentations given by esteemed professors and representatives of companies in the computer industry. Keynote speakers will come from all areas of the computational sciences, exposing all students to a breadth of topics and applications. We are pleased to announce that there will be at least one bilingual talk, given in both English and French.

Stephanie Van Dyk, Site Reliability Engineer, Google

Stephanie Van Dyk is a Site Reliability Engineer who likes really big, broken things. Originally hailing from Kelowna, BC, she went to school at UBC Vancouver where she studied math and computer science. After graduating, she moved to California to work for Google as an SRE. In November 2013, Stephanie got swept up in one of the most high profile technical disasters of all time -- the failure of She currently works on Search at Google.

Talk: Finding Something Worth Doing

Language: English

Not every tech new grad wants to work on the next big app that helps teenagers share photos. There's lots of other interesting things to do in the world, if you know where to look. Drawing heavily on her own experiences, including stories of working on and at Google, Stephanie will discuss how to find interesting problems, smart people and career satisfaction in tech-land.

Dr Richard Hoshino, Mathematics Professor, Quest University Canada, Squamish, BC

Richard Hoshino teaches mathematics at Quest University, an innovative liberal arts and sciences university located in Canada's recreation capital. Prior to his arrival at Quest in 2013, Richard was a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo (2010-2012), and was a mathematician with the Government of Canada (2006-2010), leading the mathematics and data exploration section at the Canada Border Services Agency. He completed his Ph.D. at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Richard has published 26 research papers across numerous fields, including graph theory, marine container risk-scoring, biometric identification, and sports tournament scheduling. He has consulted for a billion-dollar professional baseball league, as well as three Canadian TV game shows (Qubit, Splatalot, Spin-Off), and has presented papers at the world's most prestigious AI conference in each of the past four years.

In January 2015, Richard published his first novel, "The Math Olympian", the story of an insecure small-town teenager who commits herself to pursuing the crazy and unrealistic goal of representing her country at the International Mathematical Olympiad, and through that decision, discovers meaning, purpose, and joy.

For more information on Richard's work, please visit

Inspiring Change through Computer Science

Language: Bilingual

In this informal and interactive talk, I will share the "existential crisis" I encountered during graduate school, when I realized that I was spending hours and hours each day working on problems that were of interest to just a handful of pure mathematicians. While I knew that I was making a difference through my teaching and outreach, I yearned to impact society through my research as well. Over the past decade, I've learned that a math-CS researcher can indeed have a broad impact, and I'll share some ways in which I've applied simple ideas in computer science to inspire measurable change: catching cocaine smugglers; reducing wait times at Canadian airports; implementing a roommate-matching algorithm for undergraduate students; and helping a billion-dollar professional baseball league design a regular-season schedule to cut costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Patricia Lasserre, Associate Dean, University of British Columbia Okanagan

Dr. P. Lasserre completed her PhD on Vision for Autonomous Robots in Toulouse (France) in 1996. Dr. P. Lasserre has been involved in the Canadian educational system since 1999, first as College Professor and then as Associate Professor at Okanagan University College until her appointment as Associate Professor at UBC Okanagan in July 2005. In 2010, Dr. P. Lasserre was the co-recipient of the Teaching Innovation and Excellence Award at UBC Okanagan for her adaptation of team-based learning for a first term programming class. Her research interests are mainly on the Scholarship of Teaching, specifically on student engagement in the classroom, and on facilitating/enhancing instruction with the use of technology. Since 2011, she serves as Associate Dean, Students and Curriculum in the Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC Okanagan. Since last year, she also serves as one of the two Academic Sponsors for the Student Academic System Initiative, where she gets the opportunity to provide leadership on another passion of hers, namely, user-centred design and user experience (UX).

How research can inform teaching

Language: Bilingual

In the last decade, much consideration has been given to improving teaching using evidence-based research. In this talk, I will present how research in Education is informing and transforming university education, how such research is used to adapt teaching in Computer Science classes, and I will discuss the challenges and opportunities that technology can provide to assist teachers and students through the learning process.

Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, CEO, Silicon Sisters Interactive Inc.

Brenda is the CEO and co-founder of Silicon Sisters Interactive, a female focused studio building top quality games for Women and Girls. Launched in 2011, the studio has successfully introduced a tween series called School26 to iOS and Android. The studio is currently working on creating “Romance” as a viable genre in the video game sector, and has introduced a series for adult women called “Everlove” September 2013. Bailey Gershkovitch was previously the Managing Partner of Deep Fried Entertainment Inc., building sports and racing games for the Nintendo Wii, the Nintendo Dual Screen (DS) and the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) with publishing partners Sega of American and Take Two Sports. Brenda frequently speaks at Conferences on a wide range of issues including: Women in Games, Change Management, Emerging Video Games Markets, and Legal issues in Video Games. She is board member of DIGIBC, and sits on the Advisory Board of Women in Games International, in LA. Brenda is a past board member of the Canadian Video Game Awards and Advisory Board member of GDC Canada, and has been a visiting lecturer at both Vancouver Film School and the Centre for Digital Media teaching the business of video games. Brenda is currently studying Law at the University of British Columbia, with a focus on Intellectual Property and Digital Media Law.

What I learned from Kim Kardashian, and how to make it as a women in the games industry

Language: English

Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch will deliver a two part presentation on women in games. First, she will explore the relationship of women and games by looking at what we know about how women game, and the current market share made up by female consumers. The second aspect of her talk is to consider the experience of women working in the traditionally male dominated games industry. Bailey Gershkovitch will share some tips of the trade for those who want to have a career in this exciting and creative area of computer programming, while leaving time for questions and exploration with the audience.

Dr Frank Maurer, Associate Vice-President (Research), University of Calgary

Dr. Frank Maurer received his Diploma (German Undergrad Degree) in 1989 and Doctorate (Dr. rer. Nat.) in Computer Science from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany in 1989. After eight years working as a Researcher at the University of Kaiserslautern, Maurer joined the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary in 1997. During his tenure he has held the roles of Associate Professor (1997-2003), Full Professor (2003-present), Software Engineering Director (2001-2004), Associate Head of Research and Planning (2004-2008), Acting Department Head (2008-2009), and Graduate Director (2010-2011). In 2011, he was appointed as Associate Vice-President (Research).

Maurer’s research interests are agile software methodologies, application engineering for digital surfaces and big data analytics. His research is driven by real-world problems coming from a large number of industry partners. Maurer is the Principle Investigator of the NSERC SurfNet Strategic Network (Digital Surface Software Application Network), has received seven NSERC Engage grants and a few NSERC Collaborative Research and Development grants for his work covering a broad spectrum of research areas including multi-surface systems for retail spaces and emergency control centres.

At the University of Calgary, Maurer is the Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Analytics and Visualization (ACAV) and the Advisory Committee on Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI), and sits on the Advisory Committee on Knowledge Engagement (ACKE) and the Advisory Committee on New Earth Space Technology Committee (ACNEST) as Vice-President (Research) Representative. Maurer is also the Chief Technology Officer of VisworX (, and sits on the boards of Cybera, a not-for-profit technical agency, and the IBM Alberta Centre for Advanced Studies.

Problem-driven research on multi-surface systems

Language: English

Research is meant to discover new knowledge and have a positive impact on society. The NSERC SurfNet Network (, is a Canadian research alliance of academic researchers, industry partners, and government collaborators. The goal of SurfNet is to improve the development, performance, and usability of software applications for surface computing environments: nontraditional digital display surfaces including multi-touch screens, tabletops, and wall-sized displays. Surfaces naturally support group work and collaboration. Using a sequence of collaborative research projects for illustration, the presentation will discuss the problem-driven research approach that pursues leading edge research to address practical problems.

Dr Charles Ling, Professor, University of Western Ontario

Charles Ling obtained both MSc and PhD from University of Pennsylvania, and He is currently a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Science Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Western Ontario. He is the lead author of the book "Crafting Your Research Future". His main research areas include machine learning, data analytics, and their applications in health and finance.

How to Choose A Graduate Program? Or not at all?

Language: English

What is it like to be a graduate student? Is it fun and rewarding? Wait, am I suitable to be one? If so how do I choose the right program? Do only nerds try to get PhD degrees? What is my job perspective like? In this talk, I try to answer these questions so you can make a better decision.