Government invests in Mohawk tech programs



HAMILTON, ON — Mohawk College will break ground on a new Centre for Partnership and Innovation next month as part of a record $54.25 million renewal of technology labs and classrooms at its Fennell campus.

The Government of Canada is contributing $20 million through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. The fund was established to enhance, modernize and improve the environmental sustainability of college and university campuses across Canada. The largest federal infrastructure investment in Mohawk’s history was announced by Hamilton West – Ancaster – Dundas Member of Parliament Filomena Tassi at a groundbreaking ceremony this morning.




Construction and renovations to 120,000 square feet of labs and classrooms at the college’s Fennell campus represent Mohawk’s largest ever renewal of academic programs. Enrolment in high-demand technology programs will increase by 1,000 students and applied research activity with industry partners will grow by 50 per cent.

Designed by Hamilton-based McCallum-Sather Architects in partnership with B&H Architects, the 90,000 square foot Centre for Partnership and Innovation will be the region’s first net-zero energy institutional building. The five-level centre is expected to be substantially complete by Spring 2018 while renovations have already begun to existing labs and classrooms.




“This infrastructure investment will increase Mohawk’s capacity for applied research which will drive innovation and grow the economy in Hamilton. I am confident that the students and faculty who use this new infrastructure will launch startups and new businesses that will help to shape Hamilton’s community and future prosperity.”

– Hamilton West – Ancaster – Dundas Member of Parliament Filomena Tassi

“This renewal will allow Mohawk to educate more students than ever before in high-demand technology programs and put our students to work with even more industry partners on job-creating and prosperity-building applied research projects.”

– Mohawk College President Ron McKerlie





  • The Government of Canada’s targeted, short-term investments under the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund promote economic activity and help colleges and universities develop highly skilled workers, act as engines of discovery, and collaborate on innovations that help Canadian companies compete and grow internationally.
  • The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund supports the Government of Canada’s climate change objectives by encouraging sustainable and green infrastructure projects.
  • More than 3,500 students are currently enrolled in 23 technology programs at Mohawk. Enrolment will grow to 4,500 students over five years following the renewal of the technology programs.
  • The renewal of Mohawk’s technology programs is endorsed by college partners, including ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Burlington Economic Development Corporation, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, BWXT Canada The City of Hamilton, FANUC, Hamilton Health Sciences, Horizon Utilities, IBM Canada Ltd, Innovation Factory, L-3 Wescam, St. Joseph’s Health System, Schneider Electric, Siemens Canada and Walters Inc.
  • Mohawk plans to add a FANUC Robotics Training Laboratory, a Non-Destructive Testing Centre, a Centre for Climate Sustainability Excellence and partner with Siemens on delivering Mechatronics certification.
  • Mohawk currently ranks among the top 20 colleges in Canada for applied research activity and is recognized as a leader in digital health, additive manufacturing and energy research.
  • More than $100 million has been invested in the renewal of Mohawk’s Fennell campus since 2009. Projects have included the 40,000 square foot Harold Cummings Library, the 23,400 square foot David Braley Athletic and Recreation Centre, the Mohawk Transit Terminal, consolidation of Student Services and repatriation of the college’s Justice, Health and Wellness programs.
  • A net-zero building generates as much energy as it consumes. The Centre for Partnership and Innovation will serve as a living lab by giving students access to its environmental technologies.


For more information, contact:

Jay Robb, Director of Communications, 905.979.8893,

Mohawk College educates and serves 30,000 students at three campuses and two City School locations in Hamilton, Ontario. Mohawk has ranked number one among all colleges in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area in student satisfaction for six consecutive years and number one for graduate satisfaction the past four years. Mohawk has also been named one of Canada’s greenest employers for three years in a row and is among the top 20 colleges in Canada for applied research activity.


Chipsetter kickstarter launches


Hamilton, ON, September 27, 2016 – After more than two years of development, Chipsetter is excited to announce the launch of the Chipsetter ONETM, the first industrial grade desktop pick and place machine designed for today’s innovators. Robotic pick and place machines automatically place surface mount devices (SMDs) onto printed circuit boards to make the modules that are used in nearly all electronic products. Offering features previously found only on factory floor pick and place machines costing tens of thousands of dollars, the Chipsetter ONE makes rapid hardware prototyping an affordable reality. Electronics developers will no longer be forced to choose between tedious manual assembly or costly contract service providers.




By enabling automated in­house assembly, the Chipsetter ONE desktop pick and place machine provides complete control over assembly cost, turnaround time and quality. The idea for Chipsetter ONE was born when Chipsetter founder Alan Sawula was an undergraduate Mechatronics Engineering student at McMaster University. As an active member of the maker community, Sawula was familiar with the challenges inherent in prototype circuit board assembly. Inspired by how desktop 3D printers were empowering designers by turning their ideas into objects quickly and inexpensively, he imagined a similar solution for electronics. After earning his Master’s degree, Sawula’s work on the project accelerated. By 2015, he had recruited a small team of engineers, incorporated the company, and been awarded a development grant by the Ontario Centres of Excellence. Having honed the design of Chipsetter ONE through three generations of prototypes, the team is now turning to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to finance full production.




“The Chipsetter ONE is the tool we’ve always wanted.” says Sawula. “As makers ourselves, we know that great ideas come from everyone, but without access to the right tools those ideas will never exist. Fast and affordable assembly of small batches of electronics is the last remaining barrier to unlocking the next era of electronics development. We hope that those who share our excitement about this next stage in the desktop manufacturing revolution will support our Kickstarter campaign.”

Highlights of Chipsetter ONE:

● Placement speed: Up to 1250 component placements per hour.

● Minimal Setup time: Control software uses built­in cameras to automate system setup.

● Placement accuracy: 30 microns repeatability.

● Vision System: Board fiducial and Component alignment.

● Part sizes: Handles components down to 0402.

● Board sizes: Up to 13.5” x 10”.

● Pickup Heads: Two pickup heads for increased placement speed.

● Nozzle rack: 8­position auto tool changer eliminates operator intervention.

● Tape and Reel Feeders: Removable electronic feeders enable pickup of tape and reel packaged components in 8mm, 12mm and 16mm reel widths.

● Feeder capacity: Up to 40 8mm Tape and Reel Feeders.

● Trays: Accepts JEDEC and custom trays.

● Cut Tape Trays: Accepts components in sections of cut tape.

● Tube Feeder: Accepts components in tube packages.

● Machine size: 34” wide x 28” deep x 21 1⁄2” high.

● Assembly Data: Control software reads BOM and centroid data from CSV format files, and communicates with the machine via standard USB interface.

The Chipsetter ONE desktop pick and place system, including ten feeders and eight assorted vacuum nozzles, can be pre­ordered directly from Chipsetter for US$5999. Additional reel feeders are available for pre­order at US$99 each. Starting September 27, a limited number of units will be offered through Chipsetter’s Kickstarter campaign starting at US$3499.




About Chipsetter:

Chipsetter Inc., based in Hamilton Ontario Canada, designs and manufactures electronics assembly equipment. Its products help circuit designers and low volume manufacturers build high quality assemblies quickly and affordably. In September 2016, Chipsetter launched its first product, the Chipsetter ONE desktop pick and place machine. Learn more at



For more information about Chipsetter and Chipsetter ONE, please contact

David A. Gilmour
Business Development Manager, Chipsetter Inc
Office: +1(289)768­2270
Press kit:


Thoughts on hiring – effective job postings


Previous “Thoughts on hiring” articles


I’ve seen a lot of job postings on Software Hamilton over the years (about 800-900). The old job board plug-in I used would show me the number of applications per job. It was a neat way of getting to see what worked and what didn’t work. And though I never did any sort of formal analysis in terms of matching job posting attributes to number and quality of responses, I offer you my finest guesstimates below.


Tips for improving response rates to job postings:


  • Include an application closing date. A surprising number of people have told me that they didn’t bother to apply to a job because they assumed that since it had been posted 3 weeks ago that it was already filled.

  • Include a salary (or at least a range). The problem with just saying “pay commensurate to experience and ability” is that it’s too vague. People want to know specifically what they can expect in terms of compensation before they invest the time to apply and interview for a job. Giving a salary range with numbers can go a long way.

  • More detail is better. People invest a huge amount of time in their job search. It’s what that person will be doing 40+ hours a week, every week. So there’s no need to keep a job description to only a few sentences. People will easily read 2-4 pages about a job they’re really interested in. Perhaps summarize the job in 2-3 sentences at the top, and then include a longer description underneath. But don’t be shy about including details.

  • Focus on abilities, not years of experience. Years of experience is generally speaking a poor metric for hiring software developers. Great willing-to-learn developers with 2 years of experience can run circles around 10+ year developers that have the same year of experience 10 times over. Focus the job posting on what the developer will need to do as part of the job, rather than their years of experience.

  • Keep the hoop jumping to a minimum. If you’re Google, or even a hot unicorn startup like say Hootsuite, you can get away with having candidates jump through hoops pre-interview. For example, pre-application tests and programming challenges. If you’re a startup that’s not too noteworthy, probably not. I would recommend keeping the “hoop jumping” to “send me your GitHub” or some other way of seeing their work.

  • Be inclusive. Public sector job postings will typically include a sort of footnote specifying that inclusive hiring practices will be followed. I imagine there are regulations of some kind that require them to do so. Private sector companies might not be required to do this, but in my experience it’s a good practice to emphasize the inclusivity of the workplace for women, minority groups, LGBT community, and others, even in this day and age when we would ideally be past this sort of thing as a species (like they are on Star Trek!).

  • List the perks. It doesn’t need to be a gym membership, it can just be free coffee. Whatever perks you’ve got or can offer, list them – snacks, flex time, dental plan (<MargeSimpson>LISA NEEDS BRACES!<\MargeSimpson>). There’s a couple local companies I can think of that do a beautiful job of providing and listing benefits, and it’s no surpise they have high applicants-per-posting (and strong retention too).

  • Keep in mind: “go where you’ll grow”. One of the best pieces of career advice I ever got was, “go where you’ll grow”. Smarter people than me understand this intrinsically and will seek out opportunities where they are able to grow and develop professionally. How will your job opportunity enable professional growth? If you can include this, it’s worth it. Even the act of showing this is something you’re concerned about is a signal to great talent that you’ve got their interests in mind.

  • Post it everywhere. In addition to the Software Hamilton job board, I’d definitely post it on It’s $35 but the readership is huge so the value is there. You may also want to consider TechVibes, but they can be pricey. There’s also Indeed, Monster, Workopolis, Elute, Government of Canada’s Job Bank and a host of others. Every post-secondary institution in the region has a job board for their students and alumni as well, and though co-op position postings might be healthy, I’m always surprised more companies don’t post their junior / entry-level positions on these job boards as well (the recent grads will be checking them). In an hour’s driving distance of Hamilton you have Mohawk, McMaster, Western, Conestoga, Sheridan, Niagara, Brock, Ryerson, Guelph U, U of T, Waterloo, Laurier, Ryerson, Humber, York U, Seneca, George Brown, OCAD, and I’m probably forgetting a few.


Uber’s Chris Schafer talks The Future of Transportation

When: Tuesday October 4th from 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Where: CoMotion on King at 115 King Street East, Hamilton, Ontario



Chris Schafer (@chrisschafer) will speak about the future of transportation before opening the floor for ample question and discussion time!


Speaker Bio: Chris is Public Policy Manager for Uber Canada. Prior to joining Uber, Chris was an associate with Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, practicing regulatory law, in addition to having served as an executive director of a legal foundation and legal commentator for a news channel. With a background in politics, Chris is also a published writer, having authored numerous political and public policy articles and studies for think tanks, journals, and newspapers. Chris has an Hons. B.A. in political science from Wilfrid Laurier University, an M.A. in political science from the University of Western Ontario, and an L.L.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School.





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Software Hamilton


Thoughts on hiring – ownership and creative work


Previous “Thoughts on hiring” articles


One great way to attract talent for lower dollars is to enable people to have ownership of creative work taken under their own control, and their own initiative. This is contrast to just increasing the reward (pay).

Noam Chomsky has a great breakdown of this idea:

Well, there are fundamentally two different ways of looking at work.


One is capitalist ideology. That basically takes for granted that the natural state of a person is to vegetate. You have to be driven to work. If you aren’t driven to work you’ll lie around watching television or take your money from the welfare office and you won’t do anything. So therefore there have to be punishments for not working and rewards for working.


There’s a different conception, which goes right back to the Enlightenment. And that’s one that regards work as one of the highest goals in life. But they’re referring to a special kind of work: creative work taken under your own control and under your own initiative.


That’s a very different conception of work, one that’s pretty familiar to all of us. If you just walk down the halls around here [at MIT], you’ll see people working, maybe 80 hours a week, working hard. Because they like what they’re doing! They’re fundamentally controlling their own work––challenging issues, etc.

We’ve seen this in the tech industry with Google’s 20% time and similar initiatives.

And we see it locally too.

I can promise you there are some amazingly talented grad students over at McMaster that are working for peanuts in terms of pay. But they own the work, they’re doing it largely under their own control and initiative, and they are doing creative and interesting/challenging work.

We’ve also had some amazingly talented startup founders build products in town while making little or no money, for the same reasons. Indie video game studios can get away with below industry pay for similar reasons. Same with academia / teaching positions.

So it can and does happen locally.

One way to attract and retain talented employees is to enable them to do these sorts of creative, challenging things that they control and do of their own initiative. How to go about that could mean a lot of different things.

  • 20% time – a day a week to work on personal/entrepreneurial projects
  • Time off for volunteer activities (like Hamilton Code Club!)
  • Open source internal frameworks/libraries for the broader community
  • Increase R&D type work internally
  • Give employees time to write white papers, technical reports, etc.

It’s possible there’s some idealism going on here of course… Chomsky references MIT grad students when he makes this point. Looking at something that works in that population may not be generalizable… we’re talking about people that are pretty motivated go-getters already.

It’s also hard to factor this into a work schedule when deadlines need to be met to keep the lights on. Google’s 20% time came to be known as 120% time internally.

But still, I think if you want to attract great talent, then looking at making the work, or at least aspects of the work, creative and interesting and under the control and initiative of the employees is something to consider.

I think one of the impediments to implementing these ideas is a lack of structure, leadership and mentorship. Mentorship is key to identifying potential initial directions for creative efforts, and nudging creative work in productive directions by asking the right questions and warning of potential pitfalls.

So just a word of caution – if you’re trying to implement this sort of idea, it’ll likely take more structure than setting aside hours.


Thoughts on hiring – prologue



I get to talk to a lot of companies in town and a lot of developers. And one of the things I hear most frequently about is the job market.

Developers want higher pay without having to commute to Toronto. Companies in town have trouble finding developers, particularly more advanced and senior developer talent. Mohawk graduates tend to stay in Hamilton for a few years after graduating before heading towards Toronto/K-W… Hamilton’s market has even been jokingly referred to as a “farm team”. And McMaster graduates generally don’t stay at all.

It’s a pretty complicated ball of yarn to untangle, so I hesitate to try to explain anything or offer any advice to any of the parties involved. Every business is a little different and so is every career path. There’s many interacting and constantly changing variables. There’s a lot of subjectivity.

It’s easy to say “well companies just need to pay more”, but maybe that just isn’t an option. Usually when I meet with a founder / CEO of a company in town, they’re not rolling up in a Mercedes-Benz. When we’re talking about wages it’s a personal thing too, in that we’re talking about people’s lives and career paths that they’re very passionate about.

It’s a hard problem. A really hard problem. And it’s a big thing lately.

All that said… I may write the odd article on this topic going forward. It’s something I’m pretty involved with. I hire people, I help people hire, I train people that are hired by companies, I have a little job board to help people hiring people to hire people, etc. Might as well try to offer advice where I can!

If others have advice, feel free to submit an article too. The more perspectives the better.


HamOnt.js JavaScript Conference speakers announced


When: Saturday October 22nd from 9:00am – 5:00pm

Where: CoMotion on King at 115 King Street East, Hamilton, Ontairo

Cost: $20 regular, $10 student



HamOnt.js is a new JavaScript conference… low cost and kick ass, featuring experts from within and abroad for a full day of talks… we would love for you to join us on Saturday October 22nd!


Check out the schedule of talks below!  HamOnt.js attendees can also expect morning coffee & snacks, lunch, afternoon drinks & snacks, and an after party!




9:00am – 10:00am 


Arrival and registration!  We’ll have coffee and snacks availalbe!



10:00am – 10:45am



Robyn Larsen (@robyn_larsen)

Front-end developer and entrepreneur

Bio: Former nuclear engineer now blurring the lines between work and play as a front-end web developer, mentor and entrepreneur. Over the past few years she has snowboarded some of the world’s most majestic mountains, traveled to over 24 countries, cultivated movements and mentored students. Her tools of choice are HTML5, CSS3, Sass, responsive design, and JavaScript. She lives by challenging assumptions, improving process, and never settles. Now you can find her flying between San Francisco, Toronto and Alberta working alongside clients.



10:45am – 12:00pm


Rami Sayar (@RamiSayar)

Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft

Talk: ReactJS basics

Bio:  Rami Sayar is a technologist passionate about the intersection of art, design and the web. For the past 5 years, he has been experimenting with the bleeding edge of emerging technologies, determined to find use for them in everyday life. In his current role as a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft Canada in Montreal, Rami covers technical areas such as open source technologies, open data, and cloud computing, as well as growth hacking and marketing. He is a frequent international speaker and has spoken at prestigious conferences such as Build, FITC, ConFoo, DroidCon, CUSEC, KWS and TEDx at HEC Montreal. Rami is prevented from sleeping by his curiosity for experimentation, his insistence on shipping high quality code and helping startups survive the grind.


Jamie Strachan (@jamiestrachan)

Lead Architect for Digital Operations at CBC

Talk: Mental health for developers

Bio: Jamie Strachan is the Lead Architect for Digital Operations at the CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster, and has been building for the web for over 14 years. Having mostly traded in coding for coaching, he works to help the developers around him be as effective as possible by being a facilitator, an advocate, and an advisor. He also leads a public speaking workshop for his colleagues, plays a lot of board games, and has even managed to do public speaking about board games.


James King (@agentultra)

Developer, game designer, and math nerd

Talk: Functional programming

Bio: James currently works at Weever Apps and has in the past worked as a cloud consultant at Dreamhost, senior developer at Polar Mobile, Digisphere and Panometrics. He is involved in the Python and Openstack communities, and has also made contributions to WebGL, Firefox and Python.  He is interested in functional languages, static analysis, and modelling software systems.



12:00pm – 1:00pm


Lunch including subs from Bonanza Bakery!



1:00pm – 1:45pm


Andrew Carreiro (@ArcadeErrorWin)

Platform Architect at Klick

Talk: Building a Slackbot with Node.js

Bio: Andrew Carreiro is a Platform Architect at Klick Health, building new experiences through technology. He has pioneered new systems for Veeva iRep development, built e-learning applications for multinational banks, and designed networked systems for offices and trade shows.  Andrew completed his B.A. in multimedia at McMaster University.



1:45pm – 2:30pm


Kate Hudson (@k88hudson)

Firefox Engineering at Mozilla

Bio: Kat Hudson is a Firefox engineer at Mozilla.  She’s passionate about making the web better with open source, and lately she’s been working on finding ways to use React and Redux to build new Firefox features.



2:30pm – 3:00pm


Break time with drinks and snacks!



3:00pm – 3:45pm


Wes Bos (@WesBos)

Developer, author, instructor

Talk: What’s new in ES6

Bio: Wes Bos is an independent web developer, UI designer and all around hacker from Toronto, Canada. He is super passionate about design, development, and business spending most of his time working with JavaScript, CSS3, HTML5 and PHP. Wes is one to push the limits of new technology and has been known to publish HTMl5 and Node.js experiments and tutorials to his blog. If you’re a woman looking to break into the developer industry, Wes teaches for the non-profit Ladies Learning Code and #hackeryou#



3:45pm – 4:30pm


Dan Zen (@DanZen)

Inventor and Professor at Sheridan

Talk: ZimJS JavaScript framework

Bio: Dan Zen is an inventor and social environmentalist from Dundas Ontario. He won the 2002 Canadian New Media Awards Programmer of the Year for his site of over 70 innovative games, gadgets and communities at He coordinates the one-year postgrad Sheridan Interactive Multimedia program for which he won Canadian New Media Educator of the Year in 2008 He continues to build for social media and mobile platforms and also deeply explores the relationship between technology and philosophy some of which can be found at


Scott Elcomb (@psema4)

Product Development at Human_Code

Talk: Design Patterns with JavaScript

Bio: Scott Elcomb focuses on API development and works with MEAN technologies as a product developer at Human_Code.  Scott was previously a backend developer at Imagination Plus.  Scott is also a member of the Pirate Party of Canada.


Simon Woodside (@Simon_Woodside)

Co-founder of MedStack

Talk: Why JavaScript Sucks!

Bio:  Simon Woodside serves as the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Medstack, Inc. He has been creating mobile apps for more than a decade. A serial entrepreneur, an alumnus of Apple in Cupertino, Simon is now the founder of Monolith, a mobile product development company in Waterloo and Toronto. He’s created an in-car virtual dashboard and replay app for GM, a chat app for kik, and worked with companies from seed through Series A&B, up to the Fortune 50.



4:30pm – 5:00pm


Startup Q&A panel for developers looking at creating a tech startup product!

  • Andrew Holden from Weever Apps
  • Christabel Aryeetey from ToolLinked
  • Blake Laufer from Angel One



5:00pm – 7:00pm


After party – details to be posted shortly.






Interested in sponsoring?  E-mail for details!









Code of conduct

Our conference will follow this standard code of conduct.



Code of awesomeness

We encourage everyone to be excellent to one another!


GameDevDrinks with Ken Seto


When: Wednesday September 28th 2016 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Where: The Pheasant Plucker @ 20 Augusta Street, Hamilton, Ontario

Organizer: @GameDevDrinks



Hey GDDers,

We invite all of you within or curious about our game development community to come and join us at the Pheasant Plucker on Wednesday, September 28 for a night of good times and good cheer. This month our guest speaker is Ken Seto from Massive Damage Inc. the studio behind Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander.

From 7:00-10:30 p.m., GameDevDrinks is the place for you to hang out and to hear Ken Sato speak about the trials and tribulations of Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander, and theirKickstarter strategy. Afterwards you can chat with Ken Seto, share your game concepts and ideas, tell and trade stories, show off game demos or just network and hang out because at GDD our goal is to create a casual and creative social environment for anyone – student, hobbyist, enthusiast and professional alike – who shares the common interest of game development of any kind.

We look forward to seeing you on the 28th!



National learn to code day workshop this Saturday



When: Saturday September 24th 2016 from 10:00am to 4:00pm

Where: CoMotion On King, 3rd Floor, 115 King Street East, Hamilton, Ontario

Organizer: Ladies Learning Code Hamilton (@llchamont)



From video games to interactive stories, digital media is a powerful way to make your message, cause, or idea stand out in a crowded online world.

Canada has become a major leader in the video game industry, yet, like most technology, only a small percentage of games are built by women.

In this hands-on, beginner-friendly workshop, you will create a game, quiz, or interactive story that’s centred on a case, community, or message that you care about while learning critical coding skills.