With 31 venues, 364 medal events, 7,000 athletes, 1 million attendees, 650 hours of online coverage, and 23,000 volunteers, the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada were one of the largest international multi-sport competitions ever. And to broadcast the nearly month-long event, organizers needed a massive network capable of reaching every corner of the globe.

To do that, technology-sponsor Cisco tapped local Cisco Networking Academies to build the technology to power the games. Working with Cisco Systems engineers, students were given a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience, build out their resumes, receive mentoring and training, and gain exposure to potential workplaces. The program was designed to showcase the potential of the students for employers and highlight their unique skills in a professional setting. From behind-the-scenes to the podiums of a world-stage sporting event, the students were given the chance to gain the experience needed to stand out in a competitive job market.

Before the games began, Wadih Zaatar, the Cisco Networking Academy Area Manager for Canada, notified academies in the Ontario area of the opportunity. More than 350 students and instructors volunteered, including those from Durham College in Oshawa. The school’s Networking Academy student volunteers worked for eight days in the Abilities Centre, where they built networks, programmed routers and switches, and collaborated to troubleshoot connectivity issues.

“There is no way around the fact that the 2015 Pan Am Games was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Larua Franks, a computer science professor and Networking Academy instructor at Durham College. “More than two dozen students were involved as technical volunteers in the Abilities Centre’s network upgrade. And every set of students going forward will have the opportunity to study both the Pan Am Games and Abilities Centre case studies.”

Other academies, like St. Clair College, also benefited from the international event. After the Pan Am Games concluded, Cisco donated more than $100,000 worth of equipment used in Toronto to the school, including brand-new IP telephones, switches fiber modules, and digital media players.

“We are very proud of our partnership with Cisco,” said Rouse Mousaly, Chair of the School of Business and Information Technology at St. Clair. “It has added great value to our curriculum for our students and has helped our graduates immensely on their path to being IT professionals.”



Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco