From Student Researcher to Technical Director: In conversation with WIMTACH alumnus Justin Caguiat
When Justin Caguiat began as a student researcher at Centennial College’s WIMTACH in 2015, he had no idea he would one day work with student researchers himself, this time as an industry partner.
The Wearable, Interactive and Mobile Technology Access Centre in Health (WIMTACH) is an applied research centre that provides specialized knowledge, equipment and technology to organizations in the digital health technology sector. It’s part of Centennial’s department of Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Services (ARIES).
Justin credits WIMTACH with a large part of his career success: “That initial connection with WIMTACH helped me jumpstart my career. WIMTACH was a stepping stone, an advocate for my skills, and encouraged me to be better.” He has recently been promoted to the role of Technical Director at Shaftesbury, an award-winning digital media production company that he first connected with as a college student.
As a WIMTACH researcher and a student in Centennial’s Software Engineering Technology - Interactive Gaming program, Justin worked in game design, programming hardware and firmware for use in Shaftesbury’s health and wellness solutions. Two of the four student researchers, including Justin, were hired by Shaftesbury following their involvement at WIMTACH.
“When I started at Shaftesbury, I was on a contract doing game design, and over time, I ended up becoming a Developer, Lead Developer, and now Technical Director,” says Justin on his career path. One of his projects included a “plug-and-play” device designed to get children off the couch and interacting with their TVs. “We have a few products that relate to distraction therapy for kids, so my main job there now is VR [virtual reality] experiences to help kids with anxiety.”
He continues to return to WIMTACH when developing projects. Not only do the student researchers bring important skills like coding and design to Shaftesbury, but “continuing to work with researchers from WIMTACH is also my way of giving back,” says Justin.
“Having WIMTACH as a resource is important because every time we have a new project that requires innovation, or when we want to create something that hasn’t been done before that has ties to the medical field, we always ask WIMTACH first,” Justin explains. “We can always say to WIMTACH, ‘you have the expertise, can you help?’ and we’ve gotten great contacts through them.”
Justin has also been involved with hackathons at Centennial College. Some of the hackathon participants have even been hired as a result. “One of the people I work with, I hired through a hackathon – and he still works with me today,” Justin explains.
WIMTACH offers practical skills and real-life experience to students, as well as support to industry partners. As a Centennial graduate, Justin has seen first-hand the quality of these students and the benefits of working with them. Now well into his own career, Justin encourages current students to be problem-solving, capable self-starters, so that one day they, too, might come back to WIMTACH as an industry partner.
“Build a portfolio, over-deliver, and always have solutions if there are problems,” he advises students interested in following his footsteps. “In a lot of things I used to do, I would say ‘here is a problem, but here are ten solutions that might work.’ I still continue to work with WIMTACH to connect with people who have similar skills.”
Interested in getting involved with WIMTACH? For more information, visit wimtach.centennialcollege.ca.