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The Best of Both Worlds

July 3, 2015

Douglas ModenaA lover of technology, reading, travelling, and games, Douglas Modena’s first kick at coding was in his high school computer technician course. He then moved on to carpentry at the Brazilian National Service for Industrial Training (SENAI) before returning to Systems Analysis at the Federal Institute of São Paulo, Brazil. Now, thanks to a scholarship from the Canada/Brazil Science Without Borders program, he is wrapping up a year in the Web Development stream of RRC’s Business Information Technology (BIT) program. Interestingly, Douglas’s current development project combines his love of both information technology and carpentry. The interactive game environment he is helping to build for Apprenticeship Manitoba is a platform to introduce young adults to the skilled trades.

Q: What attracted you to the BIT Program (and Canada, and Winnipeg)?

I always wanted to study abroad, learn about a new culture, and study a foreign language. I chose Canada because I had heard good things about education in this country. I also wanted to practice my English.

Q: What were you hoping to get out of this BIT Space Development project?
After studying it is important to have some professional experience. I’m learning a lot in Project and developing skills as a programmer that wouldn’t be possible just by studying. A good example is source control. Working in a team and collaboratively managing code is more complex than writing and managing your own code, and I’m learning a lot about how GitLab can help us here.

Q: Have the program, the project, and Winnipeg met your expectations?

Before coming I didn’t know what to expect, really. But this whole experience has been amazing! I was fortunate to come to a great college and learn from excellent instructors. I have met friendly people at school and at work while getting to know more about Winnipeg. This is my first experience abroad, and it couldn’t have been better!

Q: What has been the most useful thing you have learned so far through the project?

Team work. Of course I’m learning a lot of new technologies and techniques, but team work is something that will be useful anywhere I go.

Bit Space development team

Bit Space Development team on the prowl: Bruno, Douglas, Anderson, Julia, Reuel, Andre, Gannon, and Diego

Q: What has been the most enjoyable part of the project?

We not only get to meet people who are working in great projects and using innovative technologies such as virtual reality, we actually have them as partners.

Q: What has been the most frustrating part of the project?

Understanding someone else’s code is always a challenge. But here we also get to develop new features, and making a silly mistake while coding can be frustrating, especially when it takes a long time to figure out what the error was. I hate it when I have to review my code several times before finding my error. A good example is my current work on the leaderboard feature of our WordPress plugin. It wasn’t really that hard a task, but there was a bug in the code that took me a long time to fix.

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering the BIT Program and the BIT Project?

Be ready for a heavy program with very dynamic courses, full of coding and lots of assignments. Time management is essential in order to succeed. BIT Project is a great way to practice what you have learned and to get programming experience while gaining exposure to a variety of companies and exciting technologies.

Q: How could the BIT Project be improved?

Our working environment is already great! I just think we could have programming workshops more often.

Q: What will be your best memory of Winnipeg?

One thing that I’ll miss will be your winters. There is no snow where I live. I had my first white Christmas here, and I’ll miss it a lot! And of all my experiences in Winnipeg, skating is one of my favourites. I had never ice skated before and I love it, even if I haven’t yet figured out how to stop. Another thing that really surprised me was the huge swings in temperature you can have here. You would never experience minus 10 and plus ten in the same 24 hours in Brazil.

Trying on the Trades carpentry pano.

Trying on the Trades carpentry pano. The best of both worlds, information technology and carpentry.

To sum up, not only is Douglas happy with his year abroad, it has given him a taste for more travel, particularly to Italy because of his mother’s Italian heritage. Carpentry appealed to him when he was younger because of the sense of accomplishment after having built something. Now Douglas is beginning to experience that same feeling as Trying on the Trades nears completion. In a way, it’s the best of both worlds.