With a PhD in computer science, specializing in machine learning, Bethany Edmunds, associate dean of computing at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), could have had her choice of jobs in the high-tech sector, where a dearth of women in computer science and programming means there is a huge demand for women with her credentials.
And though she did work in the private sector briefly and even founded her own software company, Edmunds has never wanted to be anything other than a teacher.
She has excelled at it, rising from instructor to program head and then, at the age of 35, to associate dean of computing at BCIT in just six years.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Edmunds got a computer science degree from Rowan University and worked for a couple of years for the Federal Aviation Administration developing flight simulation software. But she wanted to teach, so she decided to earn a PhD in computer science from Rutgers University.
It was there that she met her husband, Tim Edmunds, a Canadian, who was also pursuing a degree. In 2008, they moved to Vancouver so he could get his post-doctoral degree in computer science at the University of British Columbia.
Bethany Edmunds held a number of part-time teaching jobs in Vancouver, including for BCIT, and also started a small company with her brother that developed software for football coaches.
“It’s a little thing that my brother and I do that’s still making money, which is nice,” she said.
When she got her permanent residency status in 2010, BCIT snapped her up. She started as an instructor but quickly moved up the ladder to become program head in 2013 – a role in which she spearheaded an effort to move BCIT’s computing and information technology department from the Burnaby campus to the school’s downtown Vancouver campus. It wasn’t just a physical move. There were changes in the teaching module that were more aligned with industry needs, and the move ultimately helped triple the program’s enrolment.
Birthplace: New Jersey
Where you live now: Vancouver
Highest level of education: PhD in computer science, specializing in machine learning
Currently reading: Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning by José Antonio Bowen
Currently listening to: Lots of Moana soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Post Malone
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: A teacher
Profession you would most like to try: Author
Toughest business or professional decision: Leaving my software developer job at the Federal Aviation Administration to go to grad school. I really enjoyed the work that I did and the people I worked with, and it felt very risky
Advice you would give the younger you: Find and embrace where you stand out. That difference is where you and your company have true value
What’s left to do: The tech industry is having a lot of conversations about inclusion, but we have a long way to go to make it happen
Join us to celebrate the 2018 Forty under under 40 Awards January 24, 2019, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit https://www.biv.com/forty-under-40