Irek - hackWEStar

Windsor has the potential to be an important player in the technology industry.

This past weekend we held a computer coding competition for programming students from the St. Clair College and the University of Windsor that was covered by the Windsor Star.  Click here: article.

The students had 24 hours to design and build web apps and mobile apps using the Government of Ontario’s energy data harvested from residential smart meters.  It’s called the Green Button Initiative.

The students came up with some incredible innovations, things that can be commercialized today!

Here’s the really cool thing.  We invited the Owners and Executives of four local tech companies to serve as judges from successful companies like Red Piston, Next Dimension, AlphaKOR and iDream Interactive.  Our purpose was to connect student programmers with potential employers who could also serve as mentors to help them launch their own tech startups in Windsor and Essex and create jobs in our city. All the participants will be taken out to dinner by the executives of these companies to further establish the kinds of personal relationships that lead to employment or leads to starting their own tech companies here in our region.

The winning team gets to showcase their innovative product at next week’s Windsor Essex Tech Show which will feature tech companies from around the area plus giants like Google, Blackberry and others. Finally, WEtech and local tech companies like Parallel42 and others will be working with the students to polish up their apps and submit them to the Energy Apps for Ontario Challenge in January which has $50,000 in prize money.

Like I said in the Windsor Star article, I want nothing more than to see our Windsor students outcompete teams from Toronto, Waterloo and London and claim the Top Prize.

That would send a signal that Windsor’s growing tech industry is ready to make a splash.

Dave Hall from the Windsor Star wrote an excellent article today about our program Supporting Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurs in Windsor and Essex (SAYEWE).

See here:

This program provides twenty Aboriginal youth 18-29 seminars on the fundamentals of starting and running a business.  The top four participants will then be selected to launch their startups in the Downtown Business Accelerator with additional mentoring.  The partnership we built to support this program are tremendous and include a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development,  Union Gas, Royal Bank of Canada, CanAM Urban Native Homes, CanAM Indian Friendship Centre, the Aboriginal Education Centre and the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor, the Small Business Centre and the Downtown Business Accelerator.  It has been a tremendous privilege working with our partners and our participants.

Interestingly, the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs in Canada is the Aboriginal community, and yet they lack training in the fundamentals of running a business, such as a business plan, and lack networks of support.  This gap was what motivated us to build this program in our region.

It is all about empowering our youth to create businesses and jobs in our region.

I spent an evening today with the WE Succeed Youth Leadership Council made up of young women ages 18-25 who are breaking down barriers that prevent them from entering Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as the skilled trades. One of the reasons I am so passionate about FIRST Robotics is because half the participants are girls and FIRST Robotics does a remarkable job of breaking down those cultural barriers that limit the potential of our young women in this regard. Less than 2 percent of workers in the skilled trades are women. Also, less than 10 per cent of engineers are women. That’s our loss!

Check out this great video of an all-girls robotics team from the Bronx:

All Girls Robotics Team from the Bronx

We have a robotics team in Windsor that is made up mostly of girls including the Team Leader and Chief Engineer.  If you are a woman engineer or woman in the skilled trades, make the decision to mentor one of our fourteen local robotics teams today, and help break down these stereotypes and cultural barriers that stand in the way of our girls. Email me and we’ll get you plugged in!


I emailed Windsor Fire Chief Bruce Montone a question about which nursing homes in Windsor (and in particular Ward 7) had automatic sprinkler systems, since only recently did the Ontario government make them mandatory for all nursing homes. Even though the Fire Chief has his hands full with National Fire Prevention Week, he was nice enough to respond quite quickly. Here is what he said:

With Respect to your question…8 of 9 Long Term Care Facilities within the City of Windsor are sprinklered with the 9th Chateau Park, currently underway and scheduled for completion by year end (Dec.31/13). As we head into 2014 All LTC facilities within the City of Windsor will be sprinklered. Hope this helps with the information you were seeking.

Windsor Star photo - IrekMy name is Irek Kusmierczyk and I am honoured to be your voice on Windsor City Council as the Councillor for Ward 7.  Welcome to my blog called Forward 7.  Scroll down and you’ll find posts about issues residents have raised at the door, ideas and plans for improving Ward 7, how I voted on matters before council, and discussions about innovative best practices in other cities.  I hope Forward 7 becomes a space where we can connect and a first step in making City Council more transparent, accessible, accountable and responsive to residents.  I invite you to surf my site and as always I am available any time to talk in person, by phone or email.