Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Camosun student shines through helping others learn

May 17, 2017 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

Curiosity led second-year Camosun Computer Science student Hebron Watson down an unexpected path in life. It opened up doors for Watson, leading him to a job where he can be challenged and help produce some innovative study tools for students.

Watson says that it was through some incredible luck—and curiosity—that he was able to land himself a job working at the Camosun Innovates applied research department as an application coder helping students learn through games and online programs.

“I had no idea what they did originally,” says Watson. “I just sort of felt drawn to the building, and one day I just walked in and asked them, ‘Can someone tell me what exactly it is you guys do here?’ So I just had a conversation with these people, and I kept coming in, and they welcomed me. I told them I wanted to work for them, but they had no jobs since they mainly hired Mechanical Engineering students. They eventually ran into a situation where they needed a Computer Science student, so they hired me.”

Camosun student Hebron Watson walked into a Camosun building because he was curious and ended up employed (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

Working at Camosun Innovates is a constant test of Watson’s knowledge; right from the get-go, he was doing things he was unfamiliar with. He says that although it’s been tough, it helped him to get a hands-on experience in a line of work he loves.

“When I started, it very quickly became a very complicated task where I had to do math that I didn’t know and I had to learn programming tools I didn’t have,” he says. “It became a strain on my knowledge and it showed how much I didn’t know. Even still to this day, it constantly stretches my knowledge. I’ve come a long way and I’ve also learned a lot about deadlines and working with teams.”

Watson and the team have developed a few programs so far. Watson says that although these programs are for student use (and are available on the Camosun website) the team is creating open-source material that’s free for anyone to use, whether they’re a student or not.

“What we’re making is a collection of open resources for learning,” he says. “Our first program was a scaffold simulator game; part of the struggle is that you have to understand how the scaffold works before you build it. Basically, what we have so far are educational games that are a free product that Camosun is offering.”

Watson says that the team is developing programs to inspire innovation in classes and to help make educational resources more affordable.

“They’re also using the programs for online classes,” he says. “They’ve taken what was historically an on-campus class and turned it into an online one where you have an access key that you buy to get into the class. A big thing is that the programs are actually going to be used to reduce student fees directly—the engineers are working on, basically, a digital course pack where you just get a plastic card but you then use that to get access to all these online resources instead of having a big textbook, which is a waste of resources and money.”

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One Response to “Camosun student shines through helping others learn”
  1. Leo N says:

    Lovely! Watson’s IBN (internal brotherly network) pointed me here. Nothing like someone who is willing to put on the extra work. Nothing like someone who loves what he does… Nothing like open-sauce silverware… (hungry programmer here).

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