Social innovation highlighted at ASTech awards

November 23, 2022

NorQuest College was among the big winners at this year’s ASTech awards, where Autism CanTech!, IndTech, the AI Pathways Partnership, and NorQuest machine learning programs were celebrated.  

Autism CanTech! won the Social Innovation award, while IndTech's main employer-partner, Tim Carwell of CommAlert, won an award of distinction for his work with the Indigenous-focused employability program. The ASTech awards recognize and celebrate Alberta’s brightest minds and the greatest achievements of outstanding individuals and organizations in the science and technology innovation community.  

“We are delighted to be recognized for our innovative and impactful work in the community,” says Jenna Gauthier, Manager, Autism CanTech! Centre. “Creating accessible post-secondary and employment pathways for Autistic individuals is not only about moving the needle on unemployment and underemployment with this learner group, it’s also about contributing to the rapid growth and innovation of Canada, and Alberta’s, tech sector by intentionally creating pathways for a skilled and diverse workforce.” 

Participants, parents and guardians, and employers affiliated with the Autism CanTech! program overwhelmingly note the transformational nature of the experience.  

“For participants it has added a newfound confidence that not only translates into the work they do, but also spills over into their day-to-day lives,” said Gail Kesslar, Project Manager, Autism CanTech! “Parents and guardians tell us it removes some of the concerns they have for their child’s futures as they transition into adulthood, while for employers it not only opens up new trained and capable talent pools, it also alters their view of disability and the contributions those with disabilities can bring to their workplaces and lives. Being recognized by Alberta Innovates validates our role in the tech space and showcases that the work preparing a new pool of talent for the tech sector is not only needed, but recognized and valued.” 

For Tim Carwell, the experience working with NorQuest has been a difference maker. 

“NorQuest is a special place and a community,” said Tim, President CommAlert Group of Companies and an employer of IndTech program graduates. “[The team]’s commitment to the IndTech program was incredibly inspiring. I’m honoured to be asked to have a seat at their table, and thankful for the lifelong friendships we created.” 

Since 1989, ASTech has showcased Alberta’s excellence in science, technology and innovation by recognizing more than 600 individuals, organizations and teams at its annual prestigious awards event, bringing together industry, academia, government, and entrepreneurs to reward excellence and inspire innovation.

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