Teen tech whiz makes headway in the enterprise

Seventeen-year old Gavin Bennett wants to someday carve a name for himself in the field of telerobotics surgery.

For a young man who has already accomplished what many people twice his age are still aspiring for, Bennett has good reason to believe he will succeed.

Bennett is a recipient of Canada’s 2007 Top 20 Under 20 Award for his work in spearheading a free computer training program for underprivileged youth in the GTA.

The Top 20 Under 20 Award is given to Canadian youths making positive contributions to society.

For Bennett, who hails from Brampton, Ont., his passion for technology served as his instrument for giving back to his community. He started the computer literacy program, which is run by Rivera Technologies, in 2005. “It was a real confidence-booster for them so they really loved it, and I learned a lot from them as well,” says Bennett.

At the end of the training program, each participant gets a certificate of completion, adds Bennett.

He says he acquired the love for technology from his father, who works in the IT industry.

“One day I just picked up a few tutorials and manuals on Web design and Web development and kind of taught myself from there,” says Bennett. Since then, he has been continuously honing his IT skills, he adds.

His talents have not gone unnoticed. Following his community outreach initiative, Bennett helped design and implement an intranet site for a staffing agency in Toronto.

His recognition by the Top 20 Under 20 Awards body also brought him in contact with one of the program’s supporters, Toronto-based management consulting firm The Manta Group.

The company was then looking to enhance and implement strategies to enhance The Manta Group’s Web visibility through search engine optimization (SEO), says Will O’Brien, the firm’s founding partner. “(Bennett’s) skills matched the closest in terms of Web design and Web development technology background and in particular, search engine optimization,” O’Brien says.

The company was also looking to implement an employee intranet site where employees, who are often working offsite, can collaborate and share information and ultimately improve productivity, says The Manta Group executive.

Bennett came onboard at the start of this summer and already, he has made significant progress in both the design and development of the intranet and the SEO initiatives, O’Brien says.

“It’s phenomenal how quickly he’s been able to pull some of this stuff together. He has a complete design for our intranet site and he has all the tags laid out for our external site, mantagroup.com, for search engine optimization, which we will be uploading shortly,” he says. At a time when most companies with a Web presence are still trying to get their heads around the concept of SEO and effective Web tagging, Bennett seemed to have mastered the art.

“Anything that had to do with Internet technologies, such as Internet security and implementing new forms of technology through the Internet – such as Web 2.0 – I’ve always had a liking to and have always taken that up pretty easily,” says Bennett.

In September, Bennett would begin his first year in McMaster University pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering, an area where he thinks technology can make a positive impact.

Although Bennett will still be doing some part-time work for The Manta Group after the summer, O’Brien has a feeling the seventeen-year-old tech whiz would eventually move on to bigger things.

“He still has university to go through…and that is important for his own development. My feeling is that he probably will be very entrepreneurial and probably come up with some invention somewhere that will make him a lot of money,” O’Brien says.

That forecast may not be too far off, as Bennett says he wants to set up his own biotechnology development firm after he graduates from university.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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