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Confederation College students innovate to win Disrupt It competition

Five Computer Programmer students from Confederation College are the winners of the 2019 Disrupt It competition.
The Disrupt It winning team: (l-r) Domenico Tolone, Riley Miller, Duong Ngoc Minh, Erik Saarimaki and David Crawford.

THUNDER BAY – Five computer programmer students from Confederation College are the winners of the 2019 Disrupt It competition, which took place at Confederation’s TEC Hub this past weekend. Domenico Tolone, Duong Ngoc Minh, David Crawford, Erik Saarimaki and Riley Miller took home $4,000 and earned access to business support services to help bring their concept to market.

The winning team put all they’ve learned from the Computer Programmer program into practice to create their winning proposal – the development of a mobile application branded “Park IT” to facilitate online payments at City parking meters.

“Carrying coins to put in a parking meter is inconvenient,” said student Riley Miller. “Instead of relying on the City for new infrastructure, we simply forced technology to adapt to the existing challenges that people in Thunder Bay face on a daily basis. Our Computer Programmer program provides us with the tools necessary to adapt to the greatest of challenges and overcome them.”

Another student from the computer programmer program also saw success at the competition. Jacob Heinrich was part of the team that took home the People’s Choice award of $1,000 for their custom cellphone case that incorporates a warming pod to keep batteries functional and charged during cold weather. Perfectly suited for life in the north, the team was able to 3D print a workable prototype with the help of Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering Technology faculty Chris Von Bargen.

Troy Mangatal is a professor in the computer programmer program and couldn’t be more proud of his students’ accomplishments.

“The competition was very stiff with participants from a variety of educational backgrounds and our team still won the day,” he said. “Some Computer Programmer students think they are only being trained to be coders and it can be hard for students to see that their learned critical thinking skills and technological knowledge are transferable and valuable to any project. Getting students out of the classroom and into a situation like Disrupt It helped the students to move outside of their comfort zone, and the wins have built confidence that they will carry with them into their future careers.”

Confederation College’s two-year computer programmer program gives students the technical skills they need to bring their ambitious projects to life. They learn how to program in various languages and master application design, design patterns, user experience strategies, design techniques, non-language specific development, and deployment and testing for a host of devices and environments.

Disrupt It was led by the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre, with Confederation College and Lakehead University as major partners. Event support was also provided by the Ontario Centres of Excellence and the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Corporation (CEDC). Confederation College’s Business faculty Alain Gosselin and Brett Sharman, along with Colin Kelly, Director of Applied Research and Acting Dean, School of Engineering Technology, Trades and Aviation, volunteered at the event to offer expertise and mentorship support to all teams.

To learn more about Confederation College’s Computer Programmer program and to apply, visit:

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