Apr 2nd - Working outside your comfort zone - Building a boat by Chester Fitchett

Most of the time, we don't stray too far from what we learned in university, honing our skills throughout our careers without taking big leaps. Incremental learning and specialization is a good thing. In general, specialists make better money and deliver higher quality results than a jack-of-all trades who flips between disciplines. For Chester Fitchett, founder of Phidgets Inc., his day-to-day job is business strategy, electronic design and embedded programming; this is his comfort zone.

Since 2004, Chester and his wife, Marta, have been discussing building a solar powered canoe. Last year, the design gelled, and they decided their first voyage would this July, from Calgary to Hudson Bay. After 10 years of scope creep, this is no ordinary boat, in fact, it's probably the only solar powered river catamaran that will ever be built. Keep in mind Marta and Chester knew nothing about building boats. This is agile development in the extreme - any plan has no chance against such a profound lack of knowledge.

Come geek out with us, and listen to the story of incrementally building a boat with far too much technology. There will be a show and tell of the materials and manufacturing processes normally used for building rockets and airplanes. Since everyone has an opinion about boats, you can share yours. By the end of the evening, you should have an appreciation of why we often work inside our comfort zones - the alternative is expensive, slow, and humbling!

About Chester Fitchett:
When Chester was 19 years old, he decided to work on drilling rigs for the winter, but he had no work references. He had been running his own contracting company since Grade 7, and had never worked for anyone else! Eventually, he realized a more creative career path was in order, and pushed through a computer science degree in record time. Saul Greenberg (HCI professor) was looking for a student to build electronic devices called Phidgets, and in short order, Chester was building his next company.

Started in 2002, Phidgets Inc. makes sensors and controllers - hardware modules with software APIs for programmers. Phidgets has 13 full-time employees, and remains a hard-driving R&D product shop, outsourcing all manufacturing.

In his spare time, Chester is a glider pilot and instructor, flying his APIS M glider to 18,000 feet this January in the chinook winds.

Additional Details:

Come 6pm, Thursday, April 2nd and enjoy complimentary food and refreshments. The session itself runs from 6:30pm to 7:30pm with a question period and networking afterwards. We're in the Atrium as soon as you walk in the front doors. Parking is free in front of the building after 5pm!

Special thanks to our sponsors Innovate Calgary for the venue and to the University of Calgary for providing the food and refreshments.