Dalhousie University Faculty of Computer Science Society “Game Jam”

The Dalhousie University Faculty of Computer Science Society, in collaboration with ShiftKey Labs, presented Game Jam over the weekend of October 24-25. This event provided the opportunity for all interested parties to come out and make a small game over the course of the weekend. Collaboration was key at this event, as those more experienced lent a helping hand to participants who had never even heard of a Game Jam before! This event offered an early opportunity for Computer Science students to get some hands-on learning and also allowed for those with a general interest to try their hand at game creation.

For those with less experience, the society hosted a tutorial session leading up to the Game Jam on October 14. The session was focused on how to use Unity which is a very popular engine used by teams of all sizes and suitable for games of all sizes; Unity is also one of the most accessible tools out there. The session taught the basic controls and functionality of the engine and how to set up a project.

ShiftKey Labs was thrilled to have sponsored this collaborative hands-on event by providing the venue as well as offering promotional support to get the word out to interested members at NSCAD, NSCC, SMU and Dalhousie University.

ShiftKey Labs was JAM-PACKED for this exciting event!
ShiftKey Labs was JAM-PACKED for this exciting event!

Game Demo Screenshots

A clone of the classic game "Asteroids"
A clone of the classic game “Asteroids”
A "university simulator" game
A “university simulator” game

Big Data Congress Education Day

Halifax hosted one of the world’s largest premiere Big Data for business conferences from October 19-21. The conference brought together business, government, and academia to discover how Big Data is contributing to business productivity and to our day-to-day lives. Partners of the conference included big names like Google, Boeing, Cisco, IBM, Hitachi, Adobe and NTT Data.

During the final day of this exciting conference there was an Education Event specifically designed for high school students to connect them to entrepreneurship and technology. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is supported approximately 600 students from all across the province to attend the event and hear about the impact that technology has on the world around them. The focus of the day was entrepreneurship, technology, hands-on learning, and engagement – which was perfectly aligned with our goals here at ShiftKey Labs. This portion of the event included guest speakers, mentoring opportunities, idea generation, workshops and more!

ShiftKey Labs had a great day promoting NS Sandboxes to high school students and facilitating a business model design challenge during this event.

Big Data Educationsandbox

The Human Face of Big Data Movie Night

On October 22, ShiftKey Labs had the pleasure of hosting a viewing of the award-winning movie The Human Face of Big Data as well as a post-movie discussion led by Stan Matwin, Director of the Institute for Big Data Analytics. During the discussion, Dr. Matwin explored key points in the movie and their impact on our personal and professional lives. This event was open to anyone who was interested – and we certainly saw a lot of interest. The timing of the event could not have been better, following on the heels of another very exciting big data event in Halifax – the Big Data Productivity Congress 2015.

ShiftKey Labs planned and executed this event and promoted it cross-institutionally. We were pleased to present both an acclaimed film and speaker to our members and broader community.

For anyone who missed it, the movie synopsis is featured below:

The Human Face of Big Data captures an extraordinary revolution sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, healthcare, and everyday life. It’s already enabling us

  • to provide healthier lives for our children;
  • to provide our seniors with independence while keeping them safe;
  • to help us conserve precious resources like water and energy;
  • to alert us to tiny changes in our health, weeks or years before we develop a life-threatening illness;
  • to peer into our own individual genetic makeup;
  • to create new forms of life;
  • and soon, as many predict, to re-engineer our own species. And we’ve barely scratched the surface…

This massive gathering and analyzing of data in real time is allowing us to address some of humanity’s biggest challenges. Yet, as Edward Snowden and the release of the NSA documents has shown, the accessibility of all this data can come at a steep price.

Stan Matwin
Dr. Stan Matwin and students at the “Big Data” movie night


Emerging Web Technologies Meetup – Web Worker Tutorial

Do you find it difficult trying keep up with the fast-paced development in web technologies? This web-based meet-up was created as a way to learn more about these emerging technologies and tackle problems that may arise in our day-to-day lives. This can also serve as a space to work together on a common idea or problem that is plaguing the industry and as a platform to pitch an innovative idea for feedback and collaboration opportunities.

The October 13 meetup featured technology experts, students and members from the broader community who have a keen interest in technology. These meetups will happen regularly and organizers are always looking for newcomers. Whether you are a student, an entrepreneur, a professional or just someone who would like to learn more – keep an eye on the ShiftKey Labs Calendar for more information on future meetups!

Dalhousie Computer Science Society In-House Conference (DCSI) Fireside Chat

As part of the DCSI conference, ShiftKey Labs organized a “fireside chat” on October 1. The purpose of this fireside chat was to foster informal and meaningful conversations between industry leaders, experienced entrepreneurs, and researchers. The event was called “The Transition of Tech Research into Startups” and featured three experienced startup founders:

  • Ozge Yeloglu: Co-Founder of TopLog
  • Jordan Kyriakidis: President and CEO of QRA
  • Colin Conrad: Dalhousie University Faculty of Computer Science PhD student

The event was moderated by Grant Wells, the Program Manager at ShiftKey Labs. It featured brief presentations from all guest speakers, a question and answer period and a networking reception for all attendees. ShiftKey Labs planned and executed this event as a part of the larger in-house conference and promoted it cross-institutionally to students and interested parties at Dal, SMU, NSCAD, NSCC and Volta Labs.

Cozy Atmosphere for our Fireside Chat
Cozy Atmosphere for our Fireside Chat

Shad students attend WordPress workshop

ShiftKey Labs opened its doors to a group of high school students as part of their month-long Dalhousie Shad 2015 experience by hosting a workshop on WordPress. Ten students participated in a 3-hour hands-on tutorial on how to build a web presence using the platform. Students also toured the ShiftKey Labs collaboration space to learn about the program and chat with one of our resident student members about his experience creating a technology-focused start-up.

It was a fun afternoon working with such a great group of bright and engaged students.

IMG_0507 IMG_0509

Phalcon Workshop

Thanks to everyone who came out last night to participate in the Phalcon workshop! It was a fast-paced, hands-on code dash that introduced participants to the power and flexibility of this framework and the creation of a very basic MVC application (database, front-end forms, and some logic) to build on. A very special thanks to Alex Nunes for leading such an interesting session.

For those who attended the session, please use the contact form on this website if you would like to obtain sample code and/or other materials from the presenter or you would like to discuss how to access the support of ShiftKey Labs when exploring a technology-focused start-up idea.

ICT Sandbox Officially Renamed to “ShiftKey Labs”

In March 2014, the provincial government announced the launch of the ICT Sandbox to improve the connections between students, researchers, and industry through an innovative information and communication technology playground. Since the announcement, we have learned a lot about those wishing to access the program and the rapidly expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region. It has been an exciting journey thus far and this is just the beginning!

The decision was made back in early January to rename and rebrand the sandbox to ShiftKey Labs. The reasoning and processes behind the change can be found in the article ICT Sandbox Shifts to ‘ShiftKey Labs’ to be published in the spring edition of the Dalhousie University Faculty of Computer Science magazine.

“I’m very pleased with the results.” says Grant Wells, Program Manager. “We have a new logo, new name, and new identity and the response thus far has been overwhelmingly positive.”



Top 10 MOOCs for Aspiring Tech Entrepreneurs

Continuous self-improvement. Accelerated learning. Sharpening the saw.

Guiding principles that many an entrepreneur can relate to.

The following is a curated list of free, online courses, or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), specifically designed to hone your entrepreneurial know-how within the digital world and lead the next generation of startups.

All free. All awesome.