Skip to main content

Yichun Zhao

Learn about University of Victoria computer science student Yichun Zhao, who helped develop a computer system that helped manage travel in and out of BC during the pandemic.

About

Yichun Zhao sits at his desk in his apartment. There is a window behind him looking over a garden.

For UVic student Yichun Zhao, helping develop a computer system that ensures people entering BC from outside the country are managing self-isolation was a “wild ride.”

The BC Government launched its new internal system in April 2020, which it developed in collaboration with AOT Technologies, where Zhao had been working on co-op since January 2020. Service BC, which provides frontline support for many provincial services, needed a system that would streamline and track the complicated calling process involved for people returning to BC from other countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We heard about the project on Wednesday and Service BC needed its new system to go live the following Monday,” said Zhao, who is majoring in Computer Science and Health Information Science. 

Work term

The system addressed every possible scenario and, depending on the answers provided, generated follow-up forms that alerted the correct department to contact the person again. It also has the built-in smarts to trigger automated follow-ups or escalations to handle situations such as a person in quarantine not responding or needing urgent help.

“I applied to work at AOT because I really wanted to do software development and thought I’d be able to learn more from a smaller company,” said Zhao. Since the system’s launch, Zhao and AOT staff have spent some of their time adding new features, such as a new process focused on temporary foreign workers.

Learning outcomes

“I’m really grateful that I got the job because I’m learning lots and they’ve put a lot of trust in me,” said Zhao. “As a co-op student, I couldn’t ask for more.”

When he began working at AOT, Zhao’s tasks were largely focused on the company’s open source framework product, called FormsFlow.AI. This experience helped prepare him to work on the Service BC solution, which used a similar approach.