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Snow day or school day? A New Brunswick student has designed an app for that

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When flurries start to fly, students everywhere dream of waking up to a snow day. And now, there’s an app for that — at least for several thousand students in northern New Brunswick.

The Snow Day Notifier App was created by Alex Leslie, a Grade 12 student at Miramichi Valley High School. He said he was frustrated with getting up in the morning and checking his computer to see if school was cancelled.

“For me, I always went and checked the website and that was quite a few steps,” he said. “And I’d been reading about blue light and blue light disrupts sleep patterns.”

In an effort to maximize his sleep time, Leslie checked to see if there was an app he could use instead.

“There wasn’t anything out there so I decided to make it myself,” he said.

Leslie discussed the idea with one of his teachers, Ashley Hallihan. She encouraged him to pitch it at the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.

“Alex took me up on it and built the application and submitted a PowerPoint of his idea and he just kind of flourished from there,” said Hallihan.

Leslie’s idea took first prize in the challenge last May, winning him $1,000 to develop his app. He worked through the summer and fall to get it ready for this year’s snow season.

“You download the app and then you’ll be prompted to create an account. … So then you select your school and district or you can select multiple schools.”

Alex Leslie with judges of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. (Ashley Hallihan (submitted))

It might be of benefit to parents with children in more than one school.

The app is now available for IOS users in the Anglophone School District North, which includes schools from Rexton to Campbellton — areas which receive significant snowfall. 

The app was tested during storms last week. Mark Donovan, superintendent of the district, said feedback has been positive.

“People will go to their phones first and the app is a great fit for notifying large numbers of our students and staff and community whenever there are storm-day closures,” he said.

So far, the app is only in use in the district, but it is coded for the whole province and Leslie has his sights on expanding to other districts.  

“I’m learning every day,” Leslie said. “I haven’t started a business before or anything like that. So there’s a lot of steps along the way that are new and foreign to me.”

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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