The Curious President Podcast

A look at innovation and research at NAIT

Ever since we launched the polytechnic's strategic plan, The NAIT Effect, in October 2021, I have been curious about the people at NAIT who are making an impact. Ultimately, that’s what our plan is all about – impact. 

So, I put on my reporter hat – I graduated from journalism school before finding my passion for administration – met with staff, students and instructors from different programs, asked them questions about what they’ve been working on, and listened to their stories.

The result is a new project, The Curious President, a six-episode podcast series that I co-host with Matt Rea, from NAIT's communications department. Each episode relates to an aspect of The NAIT Effect.

Thank you to the staff and instructors at the NAIT Campus Radio studios, including Patrick Galenza, Dave Albright and Dave Sawchuk, for all their help. You can listen to the episode on YouTube, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

We hope you enjoy it and continue to join us on our exploration of NAIT's impact on communities here in Alberta and beyond.

- Laura Jo Gunter, NAIT President and CEO

Episode 6: Reclaiming land disturbed by oil sands tailings ponds

researcher working in a lab at nait

Dr. Heather Kaminsky and her team of applied researchers and students are at the forefront of helping industry solve one of the Alberta oil sands' most pressing challenges: what to do with tailings ponds.

In this episode of The Curious President, the last in the series, Kaminsky shows how they're working to transform these liquid tailings ponds into a sturdy, manageable environment that could support plant growth.

Episode 5: Learning to Fly: A grad's business takes off with help from the NAIT network

nait mawji centre for entreprneurship and new venture

In this episode of The Curious President podcast, we share the story of how a business started by a NAIT grad and a student got off the ground thanks to connections through the polytechnic's Mawji Centre for New Venture and Student Entrepreneurship

Shelvie Fernan (Bachelor of Business Administration '18, Marketing '16) is the CEO of Fly and Fetch, the business she and then NAIT student Victoria Celi launched in 2019. The shipping company has a great story, stemming from Fernan's experience as an immigrant, and fills a need in the international shipping sector. Here's how the Mawji Centre helped get the venture off the ground.

Episode 4, Creativity in the Classroom: How innovation in teaching is preparing students for careers

students using computers in a NAIT classroom

To give students a polytechnic education that leads to meaningful careers, courses at NAIT must be relevant and engaging. Current material is part of that, but how it's delivered tends to be just as important. For this episode of The Curious President, we went straight to the source of classroom innovation: instructors. Here's a look at the new technologies and methods they're bringing to the student experience across the polytechnic.

Episode 3, From India to NAIT: An international student’s pandemic journey to Canada

laura jo gunter, nait president and ceo, speaking with international students

This episode of the Curious President podcast focuses on the NAIT experience from the perspective of international students. The polytechnic wants that experience to be as smooth and positive as possible – and the story of how staff innovated to help Bhadresh Chaudhari make the journey from India to Canada, despite the challenges of travel during the pandemic, is a perfect example of that.

You can listen to the episode below, on YouTube, Spotify or wherever you get podcasts.

Episode 2, Scouring the Sask: One NAIT research team’s quest to measure microplastic waste in Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River

nait president and ceo laura jo gunter helps with measuring microplastics in Edmonton's north saskatchewan river

Plastic waste is everywhere – it's a serious issue that affects us all and we need to learn more about it. That is why NAIT researcher Paolo Mussone and his team are scouring the North Saskatchewan River for microplastics, particles less than 5 millimetres long. They hope to find a way to measure microplastic levels in freshwater that could also be used in other places.

The project is part of Plastic Research In Action, a $10-million applied research agreement with Inter Pipeline. Learn all about it in Ep. 2 of The Curious President.

Episode 1, Education and Electricity: How NAIT helped bring light and power to a school high in the Peruvian Andes 

In spring 2022, Alternative Energy Technology students and instructors travelled to a Peruvian village called Ccollpapata to install off-grid solar energy with the help of Light Up the World, an Alberta-based charity. The project gave local students electricity that would improve their educational experience.

This first episode is about the intersection between work and learning. Work integrated learning is essential to polytechnic education – it lets students develop critical skills they’ll need to be successful in their careers from day one. In this case, it gave NAIT students unique insight into working in a different country, with limited resources, under a tight deadline, at an extreme elevation. Here's how it happened.

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