Teachers make the grade for IT heroism

It shouldn’t be surprising a pair teachers who won awards with the word community in the title aren’t really sure why they were chosen.

Jane Fritz, a professor and dean of computer science at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, suggests asking whoever nominated her. Stephen Ibaraki, head of research, advanced professional programs at Capilano College, North Vancouver, BC, answers simply, “I’m not sure.”

Their respective bodies of work, however, aren’t prone to acts of humility.

The Information Technology Association of Canada honoured dozens of individuals and businesses with the Community IT Hero Award for their dedication during IT Week celebrations.

When pressed for an answer, Fritz surmises it was her work pushing for the recently-passed information system professional (ISP) legislation in New Brunswick, the fourth province to have done so.

“It’s establishing that anybody who has the ISP designation has a certain education background, certain experience, that they adhere to a certain code of ethics, and that they are liable for professional discipline if there’s a complaint against that can be proved,” says Fritz.

The ISP designation is awarded through the Canadian Information Processing Society.

Fritz says she hopes the legislation will provide benefits to the public and employers by holding members to a standard in the same way engineers and doctors are.

“They should be able to count on a standard for people working in the computer industry and to make sure people working in the industry understand that they have a responsibility to the public good and public safety,” says Fritz.

“There are a lot of shysters out there and it’s time for us to mature and take ownership and responsibility for these kinds of things.”

For Ibaraki, this one of three awards he has received this year. “I’ve been pretty lucky this year,” he says. Luck, perhaps, and a lot of hard work.

On top of his work at the college, Ibaraki is the chairman and chief architect of iGEN Knowledge Solutions Inc. The New Westminster, BC-based company was founded with other teachers and focuses on Web-enabling businesses and market research. The research is then given to their respective students so they can a better understanding of the high-tech industry.

When not teaching or building the business, Ibaraki does streaming videos for SmartForce, an e-learning company in Redwood City, Calif.

“I do videos in the States one to three times a month and they’re broadcast worldwide and I don’t take payment for that. I do that so maybe the company can set up scholarships for women or people in disadvantaged groups. That was the agreement anyway. Don’t pay me, you as a company try and give back,” says Ibaraki.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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