Earlier this spring, a group of Business Technology Management students from the Ted Rogers School of Management helped implement mobile printing at the City of Brampton (external link) as part of their ITM 900 capstone project, which made it possible for City staff to submit a print job from their phone or tablet to any Canon printer connected to the Brampton network.
Dominic Ziobrowski, Arun Eladias-Juban, Ammar Idrees, Varleen Sasan and Gabriel Nitch, under the supervision of instructor Bachir Chehab, were tasked with leading the development, implementation and launch of an innovative technology project. Their project was a collaboration with the City of Brampton and Canon Canada, and a chance for the students to gain practical skills and experiences that extended beyond classroom learning. Brampton, the ninth largest city in Canada, is home to nearly 700,000 people, 250 cultures and 171 languages and has a rapidly growing economy.
According to Chehab, the capstone gives students the opportunity to put theory into practice and build a strong foundation to address real-world challenges in the workplace after they graduate. Chehab provided guidance and support to the team, helping them navigate through the project. “The project that this group implemented is so interesting because of its positive impact on the organization's printing process,” Chehab said.
In 2022, the City of Brampton started an ambitious printer upgrade project and worked on it over the course of the year. By early 2023, having successfully installed a new fleet of Canon printers across its properties, the City turned its attention to the next phase: rolling out mobile printing for City staff.
Dominic Ziobrowski, a fourth-year student who had previously worked with the City of Brampton during his Co-op placements, approached IT Program Manager Jennifer Ellis with a proposal for the capstone project. “We needed to pick a real company, identify a real issue they're having and then develop a project plan and solution to fix it through IT business systems,” Ziobrowski said.
“Dominic approached me about the capstone project and asked if we had a project that would qualify for his team,” Ellis said. “The mobile print project was a good end-to-end project that was required to finish the Canon installation, therefore a good candidate for the students.”
The goal of mobile printing was to enable anyone with a City of Brampton email address to conveniently print documents. By emailing the files to a designated email address, the system would quickly convert and distribute them to the Canon printer fleet. This ensured that users could access their files on any printer by simply logging in.
The students toured Canon Canada headquarters in Brampton in February, learned about implementing secure mobile printing and witnessed the mobile printing process in action even before commencing their project.
“Canon Canada showed us all of their future tech that they hoped to implement in other phases down the road with Brampton,” Ziobrowski said.
The students tested and confirmed the security of the mobile printing process and validated its practicality. “I got to test out the uniFLOW mobile printing that we would end up implementing around a month or so later,” Nitch said. “It was pretty straightforward, intuitive and easy to use.”
With weekly meetings to discuss progress and accomplishments and regular access to stakeholders at the City of Brampton and Canon Canada, the students learned how to complete a large scale project from start to finish.
The City of Brampton’s IT Program Manager Jennifer Ellis (external link) and Technical Specialist Suki Saniary (external link) provided continuing support and mentoring to the student team.
“We taught the students the formal way to do a project, including guiding them on all the paperwork they needed to complete for a project,” Ellis said. “In addition, we challenged them to think beyond and out of the box. We also exposed them to team collaboration in a large organization, planning meetings, working sessions and using the tools available to them.”
At Canon Canada, Kaireen Cleminson (external link) , enterprise account executive, and Paul Ho (external link) , senior solutions specialist, supported students by engaging with them on the solutions provided by Canon, by inviting them to Canon’s corporate head office (external link) , providing them with an overview of Canon technology and a demonstration of the mobile print solution.
“We also coordinated with our Digital Systems Support team to make sure there was a technical resource available to assist with the installation and deployment when needed,” Cleminson said. “I participated on weekly calls with the team where they provided a status update on their project, asked questions, and were given feedback.”
“We would help each other”
Collaboration and teamwork were at the core of the capstone project, with each student taking on specific roles while offering support wherever needed.
For example, Nitch and Idrees worked on a lot of the graphs, records and liaising, while also drafting an article about the project. Ziobrowski worked as project manager with his contacts at Brampton and Canon, while Sasan worked on business process diagrams and sequence diagrams, and Eladias-Juban worked on real-time additions to the team’s documents, the latter explained.
“We would meet weekly… if we finished early, we would help each other. I think the collaboration is why we did so well.” - Varleen Sasan
There were times when students couldn’t make it to a meeting, and one of the other teammates would fill in, Nitch said. “We were all supporting each other and making sure that the project ran smoothly.”
As part of the implementation of the mobile printing, the Ted Rogers School students created and conducted two virtual training sessions for City staff.
During the live tutorials, team members served as moderators, providing assistance and clarifications, and Ziobrowski led the sessions, explained Nitch. “The rest of us were moderators, so if anyone had any questions, we would help answer those questions. It was amazing,” he said.
The training sessions were recorded and are on the Self Service module, available for all staff at the City of Brampton, Idrees explained. “People can access the recording if they want to learn how to do it step by step.”
“Something that makes life so much easier”
Mobile printing is now accessible for approximately 6,500 employees at 80 locations in Brampton, from City Hall to recreation centres and community centres. “Part-time workers who maybe don’t have their own work laptops can now print messages or signs they need at community centres,” Idrees said. The flexibility and time savings were key objectives of the project and have already had an impact.
Chehab highlighted that this student group went above and beyond by not only creating a project report, but actually implementing the changes, and they saw immediate feedback from the client about this change and how that impacted them.
Sasan described the reaction from Brampton employees as astounding.
“They told us they couldn’t believe how much they needed this,” she said. “Until you have, you have no idea how much easier the technology has just made your life.”
Each of the students took something different away from the capstone project experience, from learning about the iteration process, to new skill acquisition, to working with multiple stakeholders. “Collaborating on three fronts means many meetings, not everyone is available at your beck and call and a successful project means constant communication,” Eladias-Juban said.
“I'm glad that I got to work with Canon and the City of Brampton. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. It was just fantastic all around.” – Gabriel Nitch
Idrees agreed, saying he found the experience rewarding because he learned a lot working with different people. “There were a lot of cross-functional teams I was working with, including IT, marketing, account managers at Canon.”
Ziobrowski reflected on the project and emphasized the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. “Something I really took away from this project was to always be ready for change,” he said. “Being adaptable and proactive is crucial when unexpected challenges arise that require problem-solving.”
The capstone project was rewarding for all involved, said Ellis. “The students were a great group that worked well together and with the staff assigned to the project. They handled themselves professionally,” she said.
Ellis added that both students and staff benefit from collaborative projects like ITM 900’s capstone project, and recommended other cities try collaborating with universities. “Staff get the opportunity to see projects from a fresh look that the students bring to the program and they get a chance to mentor and show their own skills,” she said. “Students gain critical experience from working within a larger organization to prepare them for the work force upon graduation. It is a great program all around.”
Working with students on a project like this offered many benefits to all parties involved, Canon’s Kaireen Cleminson said.
“These students had the opportunity to work directly with Canon employees and assess whether or not this might be the type of organization they would like to work at one day,” she said. “This project also gave them the opportunity to see our mobile print solution up close and work directly with our Service team. One day when they are out in the IT world, we hope that they will remember their experience, our technology and our commitment to service and support.”