The Faculty of Arts' Community Research Unit helps Regina Fire and Protective Services update crucial educational programming

Candace Giblett is a public education officer with Regina Fire & Protective Services (RFPS). She can share story after story about children in Regina who have saved lives because they knew what to do if they had a fire in their home.

Giblett takes pride in knowing that this is thanks to training they received by RFPS in their schools. But Giblett said that RFPS recognized that they had a serious problem. Firefighters were telling her that the 9-1-1 teaching tool they are using is no longer relevant.

“How many elementary school children in our city have ever seen a push button telephone before? Not many,” said Giblett. “We are delivering this lifesaving education using seriously outdated technology. Our firefighters spend more time explaining what and how to use a dated land line telephone than actually teaching the important messages of why and how to call 9-1-1 to the students.”

Giblett said that one of their members suggested that the department develop a cellular telephone ‘app’ for teaching these messages to the children. “Excellent idea,” she thought, “But the fire department doesn’t have software engineers on staff and we do not have funds to contract this work out.”

Giblett made a call to the Community Research Unit (CRU) at the University of Regina to explain the problem and see if they could help her out. The CRU serves as a bridge between the community and the university, helping connect the research needs of the community with the research interests and skills of faculty members and students. Dr. Lynn Gidluck, the CRU’s Community Director, did a little “sleuthing”. She found the perfect partner. “I asked around and learned that Dr. Tim Macaig, in the Faculty of Engineering, is always on the lookout for experiential learning projects for his software students.”

After visiting one of the RFPS training sessions, Dr. Macaig said he had a possible solution to this technological problem. He would challenge the students in his ENSE 471 - User Interface Programming - People-Centered Design) to work with Giblett during the 2020 Winter semester.

Macaig said his students were thrilled to work on a project that had the potential to solve a “real world problem”. “The students really rose to the challenge,” said Macaig. “Many of their designs are beyond what we originally hoped or expected.”

Now thanks to a grant from the CRU, Regina Fire & Protective Services can hire one of the students who was in this class to bring the best of the design ideas that came out of the projects to final development and deployment. “Come the fall our firefighters will have a software application that they can use during their training sessions,” said Giblett. “We are so grateful to Dr. Macaig and his students for taking this assignment so seriously. They can feel good that their work solves a real problem for their community. Their work will literally save lives. How many students can say that?”

17 April 2020

Read more about how this partnership between the CRU, Regina Fire and Protective Services, and a team of fourth-year Faculty of Engineering students is making a real world difference. READ MORE>>