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Eight teams win seed funding at 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition

The Fitra team presents at the 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition
The Fitra team presents at the 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition (Supplied photo: James McLellan)

Eight teams of budding entrepreneurs have secured seed funding at the 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition, taking home at least $10,000 to invest in their business.

The top prize of $30,000 was awarded to Fitra, a venture that aims to retrofit health clubs with sensor technology that can track and provide feedback metrics to gym owners and facility managers, thereby keeping members motivated to reach their fitness goals.

"It seems absolutely surreal that the pitch competition is done,” says Blair Halenda (Sc’18). “Being a part of the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative 2017 cohort has been a great learning experience, and we all feel so fortunate to be given this opportunity. We are looking forward to working with our beta testers, including the Queen’s Athletic and Recreation Centre and the YMCA of Kingston, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Other seed funding recipients include Spectra Plasmonics, Dream Again, and Your Mobility Innovations, who each took home $15,000, while TimberWolf Cycles, Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth, Whisk, Ozira Foods were awarded $10,000 each.

“On behalf of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, congratulations and a job well done to all of our participants and our pitch competition winners,” says Greg Bavington (Sc'85), Executive Director, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. “Every year, the quality of participants in our Summer Initiative improves and 2017 was no exception. This event is an exciting opportunity to bring together local innovation leaders and future talent to support the growth of several start-ups in our area, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for all our competitors.”

In addition to the eight Queen's student businesses competing in the pitch competition, four regional businesses also had the opportunity to compete for funding this year. This addition to the annual pitch competition was opened up through the Dunin-Deshpande gift, announced in 2016, to support regional innovation and entrepreneurship. Total available funding was also increased this year due to a $10,000 gift offered by the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research).

“As a team we are thrilled about the win, and excited about the opportunities it will open up in the future,” says Dylan Houlden of Your Mobility Innovations. “Our next steps are product testing as well as setting up pilot tests with our early adopters and preparing for the GrindSpaceXL application process. We couldn't be more thankful for all the help we received from our mentors, from the QICSI Executive Team, and from the Queen’s Biomedical Innovations Team, as well as the opportunity to be a part of this years’ QICSI cohort. We would also like to thank our team from the Loyalist College Entrepreneurial Studies Business Launch program as they continue to show endless support.”

To learn more about all the teams which competed this year, click here.

International students pitch in around Kingston

The Queen's School of English Volunteer Club visits the Salvation Army
The Queen's School of English Volunteer Club visits the Salvation Army Kingston (Supplied photo)

For a group of international students, it has been a busy summer. The twenty students, representing Japan, China, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, and Korea, have been in town to upgrade their English skills through an English for Academic Purposes program. In their spare time, this group has been giving back to the community through the Queen’s School of English Volunteer Club.

“The idea to form this club came from my time teaching Social Welfare and Volunteerism in New Zealand, and speaking with international students while visiting partner universities in Japan,” says Robin Cox, Director, School of English. “Volunteering is one of the best ways for international students to get involved in their local community, and our English for Academic Purposes students here at Queen’s were seeking ways to give back during their studies. Working with our Student Life social activities monitor, Chris Suppa (Ed’17, MEd’19), we planned a program for the summer, and Chris organized a number of activities for them. We were really delighted with the response from both the students and the community.”

The club is a first-of-its-kind initiative for the School of English. After an initial meeting in early June, interested students sought opportunities to volunteer which centered on the importance of being kind to others, having fun while collaborating, and using volunteering as an opportunity to build connections and practice the English language.

The students started in their own backyard by rolling up their sleeves and doing a bit of gardening. They planted peas, summer squash, and radish seeds in the beds at the John Orr Tower Community Garden located on the west campus, and have been maintaining the plants throughout the summer months.

The students also paid a visit to Lord Strathcona elementary school for a cultural exchange in June, and prepared meals for Martha’s Table community program.

For their final act of charity, the students took up a collection for the Salvation Army Food Drive. The students chose the Salvation Army as their charity of choice due to its commitment to service both across Canada and internationally, and the fact they were operating during the summer. The 10-day food drive brought in 204 items.

“It was an absolute pleasure to work with this entire team of committed and motivated students,” says Mr. Suppa. “I am proud of every single one of them in their dedication to their studies and service. The students should be very proud knowing how many lives they touched and made a difference in.”

Due to the strong positive reception, the club will continue to be offered during English for Academic Purposes programs in the fall, winter, and summer sessions. In addition, the students who volunteered at least 20 hours each received a certificate of recognition from the School of English.

“The Volunteer Club’s support through the Summer Food Drive has made a positive impact on our agency’s Community Choice Pantry program, and we are truly grateful for their support,” says Maria Sadowy, Events, Media, & Volunteer Coordinator, The Salvation Army Kingston. “The club’s contribution allows us to continue to bring hope and dignity to those experiencing the cycle of poverty so that, together, we can work towards a stronger community. We hope that this may encourage more members in our community to get involved and help make a positive impact.”

Future volunteer events and other updates from the Queen’s School of English Volunteer Club will be available on queensu.ca/qsoe.

Expanding first-year transition support

Student and mentor talk at table.
Q Success connects first-year students with upper-year peer mentors.

To help ease the first-year transition to university life, the Division of Student Affairs is expanding its Q Success program to the full academic year.

Since its launch in 2013, the program had been operating for the first six weeks of the fall term.

The program invites first-year students to be matched with an upper-year mentor who can help them settle into their campus life, and connect them to resources and services. Q Success has also provided opportunities for first-year students to meet at weekly information sessions that focus on academic prep, skills development, community building, and wellness.

Feedback from participants and upper year peer mentors has led the Student Experience Office to expand Q Success from September through to April.

“The peer mentorship component of the program, in particular, has been greatly valued, not only by first-year students, but by the upper-year student mentors, who all recognize the benefits of having someone who is there to connect with, who listens, asks questions and refers students to the resources and services they may need to succeed,“ says Sara Ali, program coordinator. “The most common suggestion made by mentees was to make the program longer; there was a particular emphasis on a need for continued mentor support leading up to, and during the first set of university exams in December.”

Historically, students who have self-identified as members of under-represented populations, including international, first-generation, and Aboriginal students, as well as students with disabilities, have opted-in to the program at higher-than-expected rates.

“The things I learned from [my mentor] have helped me greatly already and I know they will continue to be relevant in the coming years,” says one mentee who participated in 2016. “Having someone who would just listen to me and provide feedback or encouragement was very reassuring,” says another. “Overall, it was a super positive experience! I'm so glad I signed up for this!”

In addition to the year-long peer mentoring program, Q Success will also feature monthly group activities. These will be run in a workshop format throughout the academic year, and will include informal drop-in sessions where students can ask questions and receive personalized supports in a casual and more social setting. The content will remain consistent with topics focused around the themes of academic success, building resilience and building community. The sessions will be run by students and staff, in collaboration with campus partners, including Student Academic Success Services, food services staff, Athletics and Recreation, the Queen’s University International Centre, and Residence Life.

Online registration for Q Success is now open! For more information, visit: http://www.queensu.ca/studentexperience/q-success

Teams contending in 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition

[Dunin-Deshpande Innovation Centre, Summer Pitch Competition, Aug. 16, Isabel Bader Centre for the Perorming Arts]
A dozen startups will compete for their share of up to $100,000 in funding.

In less than two weeks, eight student entrepreneur teams and four regional ventures will compete at The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, vying for up to $100,000 in seed funding for their businesses.

The sixth annual Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition gets underway at noon on Wednesday, August 16. The presentations will take place from noon to 6 pm, with the awards presentation commencing at 6:45 pm.

For the past five years, the pitch competition has been an opportunity for the summer students to get seed funding to help launch their ventures following the program. Due to generous philanthropic donations, the pitch competition was expanded this year to incorporate four regional ventures, two of which belong to the open cohort QyourVenture program, who are eligible to compete for the pool of funding available.

One of the 2016 Pitch Competition participants. Who will take home prizes this year? (Supplied photo)

“We are pleased to be expanding the pitch competition and inviting the community in through the generous support of The Dunin Foundation and Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande. The Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition will be an exciting event that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship at Queen’s and in our region,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. “The 35 participants in this year’s Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) cohort come from across many different disciplines – including Queen’s students and two Loyalist College students. They have worked hard over the past four months, drawing on the training and mentorship provided by numerous faculty, staff and alumni.”


Meet this year’s competitors, in their own words

Dream Again

Dream Again is working on the customization of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks. The problem with current CPAP therapy is that there are only standard-sized fitting masks for full-face, nasal, and nasal-pillow users. While extensively researching the market, Dream Again has concluded that the best way to find a solution with the current masks, is to focus on the main problem with them, which is non-compliance. There are many reasons for non-compliance, the main ones being: reducing leakage, size, and discomfort. We are working to provide an alternative mask option which helps solve these issues. Our “custom-fit” solution uses scanning and 3D printing to meet these needs.

Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth

Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Indigenous communities by empowering youth through opportunities that will develop employable skills and greater self-confidence. In collaboration with these communities, Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth develops educational programs which will enable youth to improve their own living conditions and develop a greater understanding of land-based living. As facilitators, we create a design, source materials, and acquire funding to make the projects into a reality. Our vision is to scale this program across Canada, empowering youth with the tools they need to succeed while helping their communities thrive. Whether it’s building a greenhouse, a tiny home or something completely unique. The possibilities are endless to create a prosperous and sustainable future for all.


Fitra provides health clubs with tracking and feedback tools that keep members motivated to reach their fitness goals. Fitra provides seamless workout tracking by retrofitting existing strength machines and free-weights with sensors, connected to a mobile app, to create an integrated smart gym experience. This is paired with a club management dashboard, which will give operators valuable insight on how members are interacting with their facilities.


School boards currently lack resources to fund educational assistants and special education programs, while teachers do not have time to complete research into teaching strategies for each student with learning disabilities. Kuebiko allows teachers to provide for each student by generating a list of evidence-based learning strategies for the students with diverse needs and characteristics. The teachers will be able to further personalize their teaching by Kuebiko's feedback loop, which uses the teachers' assessment of effectiveness to generate tiered and specific strategies.

Mero Technologies

Mero Technologies is a cloud-based technology startup delivering insights on washroom supply levels to cleaners and property managers. The platform enables its customers to ensure facilities are always kept clean, cleaning staff are properly managed, and that buildings uphold their commitment to sustainable environmental practices. Mero’s product not only saves building managers' money, but also ensures a building's dispensers are always functioning as they should be: with fully stocked supplies.

Monetta Tech

Monetta Technologies is developing a meeting management software that utilizes speech to text technology to automate note-taking during meetings, while providing productivity data and a document repository for your team. Monetta Technologies will revolutionize how meetings minutes are taken and used, by providing teams with a seamless method to keep track of their progress, thereby increasing team accountability and driving productivity in the workplace.

Ozira Foods

Ozira Foods is working to bring the newest and most sustainable superfood to market in Canada. Khai Nam is a plant-based meat alternative with a strong nutritional profile boasting 30 to 40 percent protein; it is high in fibre, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. Ozira grows, harvests, dries, and grinds Khai Nam to produce a highly nutritious fine powder that can be incorporated into any meal. Khai Nam is vegan, common allergen-free, and has a significantly lower environmental impact than any meat on the market.

Reverie Baby

Reverie Baby aims to tackle the issue of sleep deprivation in new parents by reducing the frequency of non-essential infant night wakings. Integrating the functionality of today’s best baby monitors with a wide array of research-backed soothing techniques, the Reverie Baby Smart Sleeper detects the sleep/wake state of your baby and automatically initiates one or more on-board soothing techniques to help ease the baby back to sleep without the need for intervention. Reverie Baby offers the first monitoring and soothing solution personalized to each baby’s unique sleep habits, learning what techniques are most effective and delivering unique routines to match them.

Spectra Plasmonics

Spectra Plasmonics delivers a chemical sensor for applications including food safety, forensics, and law enforcement. With state-of-the-art capability, this device saves time and money in detecting trace levels of harmful compounds in complex mixtures.

TimberWolf Cycles

TimberWolf Cycles integrates performance cycling and history's most tested material: wood.  Producing high-performance road bikes from this natural material yields aesthetic and technical elegance.  The unique properties of a variety of woods soften road vibration while efficiently delivering power to the road through an exceptionally light weight and beautiful frame.


Whisk is creating a better restaurant experience. By offering a mobile payment platform, no longer will customers have to wait for the bill. Users can easily access deals, split items amongst friends, and pay right from their phones. Restaurants will benefit from quicker turnover, greater customer insight, and happier patrons. By seamlessly integrating with existing restaurant systems, there are no capital or training costs to worry about. It’s time to start dining and dashing…legally.

Your Mobility Innovations

Your Mobility Innovations is dedicated to innovation in the area of assistive devices for the elderly and persons with disabilities. Our product is an adjustable grab bar that can easily adjust to meet the needs of rapidly changing users. Our mission is to change the lives of anyone with physical limitations by improving their independence, safety and confidence with in their community.


To learn more about the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre and the QICSI program, visit www.queensu.ca/innovationcentre or come to The Isabel on Wednesday, August 16 at noon for the Summer Pitch Competition.

Collaborative campaign adds up to an award

"It All Adds Up collage"
The focus of the It All Adds Up campaign is to help students understand what they have already achieved, through their studies and int the community and how this can be applied to their future careers or education. (Supplied Photo)

When Career Services and the Alma Mater Society (AMS) first launched the It All Adds Up campaign for the 2014-15 academic year, the goal was to help Queen's students reduce stress about their futures by gaining a better understanding of what they have already achieved, both as part of their studies and in the community.

“It is so important to acknowledge learning both in and out of the classroom,” says Victoria Lewarne, Academic Affairs Commissioner for the AMS.  “With so many exceptional opportunities at Queen's, It All Adds Up is a great program for students to recognize how everything they do fits into a broader learning experience.”

Now, heading into its fourth year, the career health campaign is being used by 43 post-secondary institutions across the country and recently received the Excellence in Innovation (Student Engagement) Award from the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE).

The award recognizes all the participating schools, a first for this honour, explains Christine Fader, a career counsellor at Career Services.  

“This was such a unique project in that it involved so many partners across the country. We are really excited to share this award with 42 partner career centres at colleges and universities across Canada,” she says.

Students respond positively to the quick interaction as they start to see how what they are doing “adds up.”

“Students found reflecting on things really helpful,” says Ms. Fader. “We know that students stress about feeling they always have to add more and more to their schedules. We know they are doing a lot, and really it’s just that they need to take a minute and ask: ‘What am I doing? Do I want to keep doing these things? Does it makes sense for me, and how are they all adding up?’”

The strength of the campaign is its simplicity and that it doesn’t require much in terms of funding, points out Ms. Fader. It has been refined and primarily uses the social media platform Instagram. Career Services put together a toolkit and some webinars before sharing the program provincially, and then across Canada.

With so many career centres participating, the overall result is an incredible snapshot of the amazing things that students are doing across the country. 

“There are students who have directed a film, were working on a scientific project, contributed hundreds of hours to theatre, or volunteered every week for years at a seniors’ home,”  Ms. Fader notes. “I felt like it was such a great counterpoint to the perception that this generation isn’t working hard enough because, as we clearly saw, not only are they going to school, but when they are in school or outside of school, they are doing all these other things as well.”

Queen’s and schools across the country are gearing up for this fall’s launch of It All Adds Up in November. 

“We are all so excited to see how this initiative continues to grow and benefit students across Canada,” says Ms. Lewarne. 

More information about It All Adds Up is available online.

To learn more about Queen’s Career Services, visit their website.

Gift creates award for Indigenous law students

David Sharpe (Law’95) has been helping Queen’s Law reach out to Indigenous Juris Doctor (JD) prospects for the past four years as a volunteer ambassador. Now he has bolstered that support with a $50,000 gift, creating the David Sharpe Indigenous Law Student Award for upper-year studies.

"David Sharpe"
David Sharpe (Law’95) has provided Queen's law with a $50,000 gift to create an Indigenous law student award for upper-year studies. (Photo by Studio 66)

“It is a pleasure and an honour to be able to share in Queen’s commitment to making higher education more accessible to Indigenous students,” says Mr. Sharpe, CEO of Bridging Finance Inc. and Chair Emeritus of the Board of Governors for First Nations University of Canada.

The award, valued at $10,000 for each of the next five years, will be given on the basis of students’ contributions to the law school or broader university community to enhance understanding and respect for Indigenous knowledge, culture, governance and perspectives on law, as well as good academic standing and general proficiency in JD studies. Two students may share the award after completion of first or second year of the JD program.

Following University Senate approval, the first Sharpe Award recipient(s) will be selected in the summer of 2017. 

“This award will be of tremendous assistance to our Indigenous students in Law,” says Heather Cole, (Artsci’91, Law’96, MPA’00), the Faculty of Law’s Assistant Dean of Students. “Queen’s Law has made a strong commitment to recruiting more Indigenous students and creating a law school that supports diversity and cultural awareness and understanding. We are grateful to alumni like David Sharpe who support these efforts.” 

In a timely law course he developed especially for his alma mater and introduced last winter, Mr. Sharpe also began teaching students how to negotiate in a First Nations context.

“Queen’s is developing solid Indigenous leaders,” says Mr. Sharpe, a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. “I am committed to assisting with this endeavour and honouring the Calls to Action outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.”

Helping post-graduate residents become better teachers

The way students learn is constantly evolving and ensuring that the School of Medicine’s residents are prepared for their teaching responsibilities is the ongoing focus of a blended learning program.

Developed by the team of professors from the School of Medicine, Lindsay Davidson, Michelle Gibson, Stephen Mann, along with Lynel Jackson, Instructional Design and Training, Education Technology, Faculty of Health Sciences, and Sheila Pinchin, Manager, Educational Development and Faculty Support, Faculty of Health Sciences, the program addresses one of the major challenges in medical education – ensuring that post-graduate residents are well prepared for their role as teaches and supervisors of undergraduate medical students in clinical settings.

"Faculty and staff from the School of Medicine receive the Educational Technology Award, one of six Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards."
A team of faculty members and staff from the Faculty of Health Sciences won the Educational Technology Award, one of six Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards. From left: Dr. Lindsay Davidson; Lynel Jackson; Dr. Michelle Gibson; Dr. Stephen Mann; Sheila Pinchin; and Principal Daniel Woolf. (University Communications)

The result is a “backbone” of four online modules that provides first-year residents, who have only recently graduated from medical school themselves, with the tools and background they need to succeed as teachers and mentors for undergraduate students. The modules are linked with a two-day symposium that provides some “face-to-face teaching,” that reinforces the materials, Dr. Davidson explains.

For their work on the program, the team received the Educational Technology Award, one of six Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards. The award recognizes the innovative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning at Queen’s. An award is available both for faculty and/or staff.

“I think that people are recognizing more and more that medical education starts in medical school but it continues right through into practice,” Dr. Davidson says, adding that residents do an enormous amount of teaching and supervision of undergraduate students in the clinical setting. “What we are recognizing more than anything is that relationship is a really important influence and can really impact on the student’s experience. Yet, before this program was introduced, when you graduated from medical school you really hadn’t learned much about teaching and supervising junior learners. So really this was an initiative to solve that problem.”

By completing the modules residents gain information on wide range of topics including  medical student course objectives, best practices in supervising trainees, effective ways of providing feedback as well as other tips to succeed as a clinical teacher.

Once the program has been completed the modules remain accessible to the residents so they can review the modules throughout the residency, which can last from two to five years.

Building upon the success the modules have been reused and repurposed for faculty members, says Dr. Davidson.

“We have regional faculty members because we have students who are placed in hospitals all over the province and those faculty members” she says. “So we are reusing the modules with some small revisions to introduce those faculty to ‘this is what the Queen’s medical program is like, this is what the objectives are, this is what we expect students to do,’ those sorts of things.”

The Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards, created in 2015, recognize individuals and teams who have shown exceptional innovation and leadership in teaching and learning on campus. The awards are administered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL).

The Educational Technology Award is sponsored and coordinated by Information Technology Services. Nominations for the 2017 are currently being accepted. All nominations should be sent electronically in PDF form to the chair of the selection committee via stacey.boulton@queensu.ca no later than Tuesday, Aug. 1, by 4 pm.

For more information about the award and the nomination form and process, visit the CTL website.

Moving forward through writing retreat

  • Over the five days of The Lake Shift, held at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS), participants took part in workshops and had blocks of time dedicated to writing.
    Over the five days of The Lake Shift, held at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS), participants took part in workshops and had blocks of time dedicated to writing.
  • A total of 50 graduate students from 14 universities across Ontario took part in The Lake Shift, July 9-14, at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS).
    A total of 50 graduate students from 14 universities across Ontario took part in The Lake Shift, July 9-14, at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS).
  • Graduate students taking part in The Lake Shift also had many opportunities to try out activities other than writing and workshops, such as canoeing on Lake Opinicon.
    Graduate students taking part in The Lake Shift also had many opportunities to try out activities other than writing and workshops, such as canoeing on Lake Opinicon.
  • Getting away from the computer and taking part in some recreational activities, including volleyball, is a key element of The Lake Shift.
    Getting away from the computer and taking part in some recreational activities, including volleyball, is a key element of The Lake Shift.

Doctoral students from across Ontario made their way to Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) for a second straight year for The Lake Shift, a special writing retreat hosted by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS).

The Lake Shift builds upon the success of SGS programs such as Dissertation on the Lake and Dissertation Bootcamp, by providing PhD students with time for writing and sharing the camp experience and resources available to Queen’s students with their peers at other universities.

This year’s event, held July 9-14, brought together 50 graduate students from 14 universities (Brock, Carleton, Guelph, Lakehead, Laurentian, Nipissing, Trent, Toronto, Western, Wilfred Laurier, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Windsor, York, and Queen’s), to help them hone their writing skills, make progress on their dissertations, reflect on their writing practice, and take a breather or two in a beautiful, natural setting.  

“The beauty of The Lake Shift is that it provides graduate students with the opportunity to focus on writing while also getting away from their daily routines. Add in the beautiful surroundings and healthy meals, the result is a welcome balance of productivity and wellness,” says Kim McAuley, Acting Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “Apart from that, this event also brings graduate students together to exchange ideas, share tips and strategies for writing and research, and develop networks among their peers. “

Over the five days, participants take part in workshops and have blocks of time dedicated to writing. However, the schedule also includes opportunities for recreation and conversation with other attendees. It’s a model that has worked in Dissertation on the Lake and Dissertation Bootcamp, says Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies.

“We offered The Lake Shift as a way of making available to students at other Ontario universities the advantages of our writing support programs, especially the advantages of combining work, rest, and play in a supportive community and at this location, at QUBS, which is unique to Queen’s” she says.

Attendees were impressed with the mix of work, learning opportunities, as well as health and wellness on offer.

“There was a nice balance between time for writing and time for relaxation and as a result the writing went very quickly,” says Mark Sholdice, a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph. “I would highly recommend the retreat to other PhD students and, if I could, I’d stay here all summer and come back next year. But by that time I hope to be finished with my dissertation.”

QUBS is located on Lake Opinicon offering a beautiful shoreline and hiking trails. The field station features a library and multiple exhibitions to engage visitors and foster public awareness of environmental and conservation issues. QUBS is an internationally-renowned facility, regularly hosting field researchers from Canadian and international institutions.

Taking a closer look at who's studying online

Arts and Science Online (ASO) continues to grow at Queen’s, both in terms of courses and enrolment.

"Arts and Science Online Survey Results Graphic"
The second annual survey by Arts and Science Online provides a clearer picture of who is taking Queen's online courses and why. Click on image to enlarge.

Currently offering 125 fully online courses in three academic terms, ASO recently conducted its second annual survey to gain a clearer picture of who is taking these courses and why.

A total of 154 respondents participated in the survey and provided information ranging from age and gender to why they chose online studies at Queen’s .

Among the findings is that the majority of online students are female, making up 78 per cent, while those identifying as gender neutral increased to two per cent. The average age was found to be 33 years old while nearly 60 per cent of respondents were working full time.

The survey also revealed that the two main reasons for the respondents continuing their education through online studies were “to support a career change” at 36 per cent and “to finish or upgrade a degree” at 26 per cent. The results also showed an increase in the number of students who already have post-secondary education to 90 per cent, including 48 per cent with a college diploma, 11 per cent with a bachelor’s degree and six per cent with a master’s degree.

Leading the way in terms of why the students chose Queen’s was the university's reputation for quality.

“We know the profile of our distance students is very different from the profile of our on-campus students. We want to ensure our distance students have a great Queen’s experience,” says Bev King, Assistant Dean (Teaching & Learning) for the Faculty of Arts and Science. “Having two years of data now allows us to better understand our students, and enables us to innovate curriculum, make better marketing decisions, and improve our student services.”

Visit the ASO website to learn more about online learning and the courses available.

Summer-long outreach builds on SOAR

Close to 2,200 first-year students and family members visited campus this month for Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR), a day-long program that introduces students to new academic expectations, and provides information about on-campus resources, and tips to support the transition to university life.

[Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources]
Incoming students and their families and supports take part in a guided tour during Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) on July 6. (University Communications)

Those who couldn’t make it to campus for SOAR, though, don’t have to miss out on summer orientation programming. The Division of Student Affairs, in partnership with faculties and schools, is continuing its outreach to first-year students and their families with weekly webinars. They are focused on topics that cover studying, living, staying healthy, arriving, and thriving.

“The summer webinar series is hosted by upper-years students and professional staff, who talk about course registration, living in residence, orientation week, academics, student life, and specific transition issues experienced by some international students,” says Student Experience Office Manager Woo Kim. “We record and archive most of the online sessions because we want to make the information, and questions and answers, as widely available as possible, especially as so many students can’t travel to campus before September.”

For the first time, the Division of Student Affairs, in partnership with faculties and schools, is also taking SOAR on the road in August. “Get Ready for Queen’s” information events will be held in Calgary on Aug. 16 and in Vancouver on Aug. 17, in recognition of the large numbers of first-year students who come to Queen’s from Western Canada.

“This year we have approximately 530 first-year students enrolled at Queen’s from Alberta and B.C. Most are not able to come to SOAR, so we want them to have an opportunity to connect with us in-person, learn how they can best prepare for the transition to Queen’s, and for students and family members to get all of their questions answered,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We also know that it can be a big step to send a student across the country. We want to reassure them that we have many resources on campus and in the community to support their academic and personal success.”

For students who are passing through Kingston this summer, student-led campus tours are also offered most weekdays at 11 am and 1:30 pm.

Queen’s is preparing to welcome more than 4,500 first-year students to residence on move-in day on Sunday, Sept. 3.


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