Communitech photo: Kayleigh PlatzTech About Town takes a look back at 2015 Alex Kinsella December 23, 2015 Columns, Communitech, News, Tech About Town “Four score and seven years ago… No, wait, just the last 12 months.” – Josh McConnell As the year draws to a close, it can be a challenge to find new content for a column. So, in keeping with journalistic tradition, I present to you my top 10 favourite posts from Tech About Town in 2015. January saw the opening of downtown Kitchener’s Apollo Theatre on Ontario Street. The Apollo is powered by a Christie Digital projector and Vive Audio system – making it one of the best movie watching experiences in town. One of the larger themes of the year has been a focus on our tech companies supporting the community. In February, Joseph Fung from NetSuite spoke with Kayleigh about giving back. “By encouraging an environment of volunteerism and philanthropy, you are telling people that the stuff that matters to you personally matters to us as a company. And that’s really meaningful.” In March, Kayleigh spoke with University of Waterloo student Alex Roeper about her involvement with Fashion for Change. Throughout the year, Fashion for Change runs a series of shows and puts on an annual fashion show raises money for Free the Children, a Canadian-based charity. Once a month, the tech community gathers at a local company for HackerNest. Amaris Gerson from Magnet Forensics is the local organizer of HackerNest. Amaris sat down with Kayleigh in April to talk about bringing people together and how running these events helped her find her dream job. In May, Kayleigh spoke with Eric Bencina from OpenText about their involvement with Habitat For Humanity. Over 120 employees from OpenText participate with the charity. “We’re a big company headquartered here,” he said. “We owe some of our success to our community. It’s important to make a difference.” We learned in June how technology helps balloon artists realize amazing creations. Kayleigh spoke with Drew Ripley about the process for creating a 10-foot balloon-sculpture goat. We’re halfway through the first Year of Code Waterloo Region – helping 250,000 people connect with tech. In July, Kayleigh spoke with creator Stephanie Rozek about how Year of Code came to be. “Code is the buzzword of the day,” Rozek said. “[YoCWR] is really about demystifying tech and having people engaged and learning about it.” Continuing with the theme of giving back, Kayleigh met Ian Reed and Danny Aguizi in August about Feedfive. By purchasing one of their beautiful shirts, you’re helping purchase five meals for someone in need. “If you have some free time, you can do something that matters,” said Aguizi. For September, Kayleigh checked in with the team at Igloo Software as they moved into their new space at 55 King St. W. in Kitchener. Igloo had looked at moving out of the core, but decided to stay downtown. “We have a lot of employees who don’t actually drive to work, and live in the downtown core,” said Christine Ley, Director of Human Resources, who led the design of the new office project. “They had a vested interest in staying local as well.” Kayleigh visited Ellen Bleaney at The Working Centre in October. The Working Centre is a non-profit that helps people find work, shelter, and develop employable skills. “We’re working with youth to create training and placement opportunities that open up digital media and tech fields to people who may never have thought they could do this kind of work,” Bleaney said. The local development and research office of Atlanta, GA based Dematic made news in November with the announcement of new scholarships at the University of Waterloo. The Dematic Scholarship for Excellence in Supply Chain Optimization will be offered to third- and fourth-year engineering students. “The high-tech environment here, the talent here, and the university ecosystem, make this a great place to find people . . . So this is a great place to open an office and build a team,” said Scott Wahl, Director, Global Software Projects. Last, but not least, Kayleigh spoke with Rick Cober Bauman and Kim Lester from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). The MCC is leading the local effort to help support Syrian refugees as they settle in Canada. We’re off next week – but Kayleigh will back in January. Happy New Year! * * * Need a break from planning your New Year’s resolutions? I see and hear that…the City of Kitchener’s New Year’s Eve celebrations include a Toy Con and retro arcade presented by Canadian Toy Con from 6 p.m. to midnight on Dec. 31 at City Hall. Looking for live music? School of Rock and CleanSL8 will be playing Carl Zehr Square starting at 10:30 p.m. that night. The City of Waterloo’s New Year’s Eve activities include free outdoor skating, hot chocolate courtesy of Tim Hortons, and a DJ at Waterloo Public Square from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Make sure you plan ahead if you’re going to be drinking – Waterloo Taxi (519-888-7777), City Cabs (519-747-7777), and United Taxi (519-888-9999) have mobile apps now. There’s also Driver’s Seat, which will drive you and your car home. You could also just get an Uber, but you didn’t hear that from me.