There is a lot to be proud about in the Langara community; alumni are contributing to the economy, faculty members are respected leaders in their fields, and important initiatives in Indigenization and sustainability have made significant impact at the College. And while Langara has long prided itself on quality of education and student preparation, real-world experiences prove our graduates are ready to make a difference in our community.


With the innumerable challenges caused by the pandemic come opportunities to find solutions. Since the outbreak began, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has funded 52 projects and dispersed $3.8 million in college COVID-19 research grants as of December 2020. With an emerging data analytics program, Langara was proud to co-investigate one of these national projects.

Langara's Applied Research Centre collaborated with Okanagan College and project sponsor, Harris SmartWorks, an industry leader in software solutions, to research the impact of COVID-19 on the utilities sector. The College’s highly technical work was led by experienced instructor, researcher, and data analyst Albert Wong, and included Abigail Abdulgapul, a recent graduate from Langara’s Data Analytics program, to serve as a research assistant.

For Abigail, the opportunity to apply her education in the workforce immediately after graduating allowed her to gain valuable career experience. “We developed machine learning models to create baseline forecasts of electricity, water, gas and steam consumption...The experience validated that we learned foundational skills that are necessary in the data analytics field,” she said. “It was a great learning experience for me.”

The experience validated that we learned foundational skills that are necessary in the data analytics field. It was a great learning experience for me."

Abigail Abdulgapul, research assistant and Langara alum
Laptop computer displaying graphs

The successful completion of the project led to better business. Harris SmartWorks was able to use the research to help clients in the utility sector who were noticing how the pandemic was affecting energy consumption. They equipped their clients with insight to develop more accurate short-term forecasting, determine the evolving needs of their customers, and implement smart energy management solutions.

Recognition for Langara came soon after the completion of the three-month project. Its success led to another collaborative research project with Okanagan College as well as two new projects between Harris SmartWorks and the Data Analytics program. “We have two projects with them,” Albert says. “One is the continuation of the completed project. The other is in sentiment analysis of social media messages on utilities companies.” Both projects are complex, final academic assignments, known as capstone projects, which give students the opportunity to apply their technical skills, knowledge, and strategic intelligence to a real-world issue. It's a valuable addition to the program that will further prepare students for the workforce.

With these new research projects, Langara's Applied Research Centre continues to provide relevant, innovative opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate with industry. And through the successful completion of these projects, Albert expects new doors to open and the reputation of the program to continue to grow. “I hope that this project gives everyone the confidence in the data analytics program,” he says.