Inspiring our Youth at the 10 Peaks Innovation Xchange

By Caroline Fyvie

On October 20, high school students and teachers from across the province of Alberta will participate in a free virtual conference known as 10PIX, hosted by Ten Peaks Innovation Alliance.

The event will give participants a chance to hear directly from the experts about energy, our environment, and climate efforts happening in Alberta.

Dagmar Knutson, Executive Director of Ten Peaks Energy Alliance Inc. and CFO at Fusion Production Systems.

The person leading the event is Dagmar Knutson, Executive Director of Ten Peaks Energy Alliance Inc. and CFO at Fusion Production Systems, an oil and gas manufacturing company based in Red Deer, Alberta. Dagmar has a true entrepreneurial spirit, having immigrated to Alberta with her family when she was a child, and growing up in Drayton Valley on a sawmill.

Inspiring Change

With over 25 years’ experience in the energy industry, Dagmar decided to begin sharing information on industry innovation and technology insights after her son came home from school one day feeling down about Canada’s energy industry.

“He comes home one day and goes, ‘oh mom, we’re the worst in the world.’ I said, ‘Wow, what are you talking about?’ He goes, ‘Our oil sands. They are the worst in the world.’ I said, ‘Okay, I know our emissions haven’t always been the greatest, but do you know that they’ve come down 20 to 30 per cent depending on what company you’re talking about?’ He says, ‘Nope, don’t know anything about that.’”

After finding out her son didn’t know about carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) or the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, Dagmar felt compelled to help educate her son’s teachers and fellow students on the innovation and technology that happens every year in the energy sector.

“I thought, okay, what can I do? I sent an email to all the teachers and the principal in his middle school and I asked, ‘Who is willing to get a monthly email from me? I am willing to share once a month, stuff that I hear about, be it a video, an article, or what’s going on in Alberta.’” Dagmar shares.

Dagmar’s monthly mailing list grew from two teachers to 20. In the fall of 2019, she thought she could do something more than an email. After establishing Ten Peaks Energy Alliance and bringing a team together in January 2021, Dagmar started planning a virtual event for Alberta students from grades 9 to 12.

10PIX: What to Expect

The 10 Peaks Innovation Exchange will not only have an excellent roster of speakers, but will share the latest technology and innovation with our youth, and jobs and career opportunities for upcoming graduates. Dagmar has been promoting the event with superintendents, teachers, and guidance counselors from across the province. The virtual platform will include networking tables so students can ask questions from guest speakers and engage with them directly.

“I’m a mom who’s interested in starting conversations and trying to inspire our youth because I think there’s fantastic things going on. Alberta has always been a leader in entrepreneurship and big picture thinkers and we’re big picture thinking now. I just don’t think our kids are aware of all the opportunities that there are and what we are doing to address climate change and how we are emerging as world-class leaders,” Dagmar explains.

The event platform being used for the conference is called GreenShows, an Alberta-based, carbon neutral platform that plants trees and offsets carbon used by participants.

“When the students go in, they’ll go into a main lobby as if they were going into an actual conference. Then they get to choose to go into the speaker halls, or they can go into the exhibit halls. Our theme this year is called Our Energy Transition and we have five tracks of speakers running concurrently,” Dagmar describes.

The tracks students can choose from include carbon and climate, inspiring innovation, transforming technology, alternative energy, and environmental thought leaders. The five tracks represent 36 speakers and five keynote speakers.

“My hope is that this conference provides a platform to allow people to have conversations. My wish is that everybody who attends, and our speakers, they’re all going there with an open heart so that they can have conversations and listen to each other to inspire change,” says Dagmar.

Moving Forward

Not only does Dagmar want to inspire students, but she also wants to encourage teachers. Her five-year plan includes plans to host an annual student conference in October, followed by student-led project competitions throughout the school year, and a teacher conference in May.

Ten Peaks Energy Alliance is planning to partner with grad students who understand high school curriculum to help develop accessible and attainable lesson plans on innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.

“If we engage students and let them know about all these activities and this research, and what’s actually in industry right now, I think that creativity and inspiration will come because the students can talk to the people that are at the forefront of it,” Dagmar shares, “I hope students see themselves and their future in Alberta.”

Dagmar believes the energy industry must do a better job of informing the public, including both adults and youth alike, what innovations are underway to meet net zero goals.

“Let’s stay in the solution space. Recognizing we are moving forward. Net zero goals aren’t just a bunch of talk, here are actions that are supporting our goals. Let’s have those conversations and share the knowledge,” Dagmar says.

Getting Involved

Students and teachers can register for the free event until October 14 on the 10PIX Registration page. Students are welcome to join the virtual event on their phone, tablet, or laptop if they plan on engaging with speakers and visiting virtual booths.

The event will also be recorded and a learning library will be available on the Ten Peaks website following the event.

Dagmar hopes the event will share her optimism and inspire youth to make a difference, “if we all did a small act, something positive for our environment and our climate, that ripples out and it makes a huge difference.”