Liberal Arts Bolsters Emerging Tech

Liberal arts skill sets are helping a tech company grow its global footprint as Kognitiv Spark employees show how a liberal arts degree can lead to fascinating careers in emerging industries.  


In its Knowledge Park office in Fredericton, a Kognitiv Spark team, including three STU alumni and one student, are changing the way the emerging technology company communicates.  


Kognitiv Spark is a leader in industrial augmented reality. It uses mixed and augmented reality to deliver holographic support to the industrial engineering, aerospace/defence, and energy sectors. It was named one of Canada’s “Companies-to-Watch” by Deloitte, a Microsoft Top Canadian Innovator Award, and was a finalist for Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Partner of the Year Award in 2019. 


“Mixed reality is the biggest jump in computing technology in a couple of decades,” says Sean McCullum, marketing manager. He has a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Journalism and Communications from STU. “It’s taken human interaction with a two-dimensional interface like a screen and broken that into a real-world environment.”  


McCullum explains how emerging tech and a liberal arts education are connected.  


While it may take computer science and engineering skills to design and build state of the art technology, a deep understanding of communication and critical thinking is required to communicate and market new, innovative products to potential buyers and the broader public.  


“You can’t sell these technologies without being able to critically think,” McCullum says. “You can’t define how an industry communicates without that skillset. These two things need each other.” 


“Liberal arts students have so much to contribute to some of these advanced tech companies, especially in emerging industries in which there is no benchmark by which everything develops and is communicated,” he says. 


McCullum hired Ben Crouse, also a major in Journalism and Communications, as digital strategist. Jake Bracewell, an Arts and Education graduate, joined the company as a sales development representative. Emily Green, a second-year student studying Human Rights, joined as a summer intern through STU’s Experiential Learning program.  


Kognitiv Spark’s product RemoteSpark is a communication platform designed for the Microsoft HoloLens. It connects subject matter experts with technicians to help solve a problem at a job site or repair a piece of equipment. The goal is to minimize equipment downtime, increase task comprehension, and eliminate travel costs.