The Fort McMurray Success Story


Wednesday, November 7

2:45 – 3:25 pm

Explorer Room

Education Track

Forging Computational Superstars: The Fort McMurray Success Story

In Spring 2014, one of Said El Majdani's students at Westwood Community High School in Fort McMurray asked him with some after-school tutoring support to learn C++. He was quickly joined by his other student friends. Soon, Said had more than 15 students asking for help learning to code. The unofficial coding club started with four old computers, which the students had sourced and fixed themselves. Now, Westwood has three labs dedicated to computer sciences and robotics, which include 3D printers, augmented reality devices, virtual reality devices, phone applications, a dedicated server for students to learn information security protocols on, and more.

As they learned, the students started sharing their learning with others, and began teaching STEM to other elementary and college-level students. Westwood students have now given workshops at Keyano College about web design, python, open computer vision, and artificial intelligence. Many have taken on paid contracts from local businesses, and are working with local governments to build apps for them. And several of Said's students have been accepted into University of Waterloo engineering programs, with one winning a $100,000 scholarship to attend.

In this session, Said will describe the progression of STEM interest in his school, where nearly half of the student population has now signed up for optional computing courses. What is the secret to Westwood's success, and how can it be replicated in other schools?


Said El Mejdani
Teacher, Westwood Community High School

Said El Mejdani holds a Bsc. Math from Ibn Toufail University in Kenitra, Morocco, a B.Ed from Ecole Normal Superieur in Rabat, Morocco, a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the Univesity of Sherbrook, Canada. He has also completed four years of research as a PHD candidate on Imagery and Numeric Media Science from the University of Sherbrook, Canada. He is also a teacher at Westwood Community High School in Fort McMurray, Alberta. As a life-long learner, Said believes that students grow with challenges, problem solving and product-based learning. As a father of three, it is one of his great passions in life to see kids grow and learn.