speakers + presenters


2017 Speakers - Stay tuned for 2018 updates


Andrew Vilcsak

Andrew Vilcsak studied Computer Engineering at the U of A for two years before dropping out to join Airbnb in San Francisco. At Airbnb, he pioneered bringing Airbnb to mobile devices, designing and building the original iOS and Android apps and hiring and managing the team up to 20 engineers.

As the company has grown from 10 employees to over 3000 across 20 offices all around the world, he has shifted his focus to applying technology and design to expand Airbnb's social good and humanitarian programs.

Design for Developers

Robyn Larseon

Robyn Larsen. Former nuclear engineer now blurring the lines between work and play as a front end web developer, mentor and entrepreneur. Over the past few years she has snowboarded some of the world’s most majestic mountains, travelled to over 24 countries, cultivated movements and mentored students.

Her tools of choice are HTML5, CSS3, Sass, responsive design, and JavaScript. She lives by challenging assumptions, improving process, and never settles. Now you can find her flying between San Francisco, Toronto and Alberta working alongside clients.

Reinforcement Learning (without the math!)

Dr. Patrick M. Pilarski is the Canada Research Chair in Machine Intelligence for Rehabilitation, a Senior Member of the IEEE, and Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta. Patrick is also a principal investigator with the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) and the Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (RLAI). He leads the Amii Adaptive Prosthetics Program—an interdisciplinary initiative focused on creating intelligent artificial limbs to restore and extend abilities for people with amputations. Patrick's research includes reinforcement learning, real-time machine learning, human-machine interaction, rehabilitation technology, and assistive robotics. He spends his days wrangling robots (and himself) towards general competency.


Stefan Martynkiw

Stefan Martynkiw, a recent graduate of Computer Engineering at the University of Alberta, is currently an Android developer at Drivewyze. Drivewyze is an Edmonton-based road safety notification and weigh-station bypass service provider that operates across 38 American states. In his spare time, Stefan likes to tinker with computers and electronics, with hobby projects ranging from breadboarded Z80 microcomputers to tinkering with his car's On-Board Computer. Stefan enjoys mentoring students and builds example projects on GitHub to demonstrate the use and setup of new technologies used in industry

Preflight Beta 

Stephanie Enders

Stephanie Enders is part of the Startup Edmonton team and manages marketing, communications, and foundational programming.

For more than a decade, her professional practice has focused on bridging the gap between creators and audiences, tech products and customers, and letting the creativity and passion of builders shine at the centre of marketing and communication efforts. She has worked with Cirque du Soleil, Broadway Across Canada, Canadian Cancer Foundation, and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. 

In addition to her work supporting technology founders, Steph teaches at MacEwan University in the Arts and Cultural Management Program.


Michael Deering is ecstatic about the challenges and opportunities that are waiting for students as they prepare to start their highly rewarding careers in engineering and development. As a University of Alberta Computer Engineering graduate Michael has managed an exciting engineering career across a diverse set industries including hardware, telecommunications, military, medical and eCommerce.

Michael is currently the CTO of Mitre Media a online financial media company headquartered out of Edmonton.

Introduction to VR with Unreal 4

Nathaniel Rossol

Nathaniel Rossol has had a long-time passion for game creation. In his earlier years he participated in several mod competitions, earning a few prizes from the international Make Something Unreal Competition. In 2015, he completed his PhD in Computing Science from University of Alberta, and now teach games, graphics and computing part-time at MacEwan University. His main focus, however, is on vrCAVE which creates cutting-edge multi-player VR games that people can play collaboratively with their friends.

how to get hired! 

Heather Whyte

Heather Whyte is passionate about maximizing people's potential, something she has done in her work across Canada, Mexico, and Rwanda. From rebuilding a crumbled non-profit from the ground up, to experimenting in the solar energy industry, she knows how building the right team is make-or-break to your success. During her 6 years at AIESEC, she reviewed thousands of entry-level resumes, facilitated group and individual career development trainings, and helped place hundreds of students into local and international internships. Now she's focused on growing Granify's all-star team as People Operations Manager. She is responsible for all areas of hiring - entry-level and VP, developers and designers, Edmonton and Austin - as well as creating a work environment where you can do and be your best.

Ben Zittlau. After graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alberta, Ben got his start in industry working on CMOS image sensors for one of the world’s leading imaging-solution companies, Aptina Imaging, in California.  During his two years in the valley, Ben worked with some of the world’s most reputable and recognizable brands, including Apple, LG, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Flip.

Ben’s time in California inspired an interest in the fast-paced world of startups.  In 2009, he returned to Edmonton and began his first of several startup ventures, all in the mobile and web software space.  Today he is working at the rapidly growing Edmonton based startup, Jobber, as a Distinguished Architect.