Leaders, innovators, creators and more!
Nazim Merali joins NAIT executive
After joining NAIT as the interim vice-president administration and CFO on Sept. 26, Nazim Merali (pictured above) was appointed to the position officially in December. Merali brings more than 30 years of strategic financial leadership experience, most recently as interim VP finance and administration and senior adviser to the president at Northwestern Polytechnic. Among his first tasks at NAIT was assessing the polytechnic's current finances while planning its long-term financial sustainability.
October - November 2022
NAIT welcomes Don Cameron to Board of Governors
Don Cameron, Alberta operations site director and vice-president of Dow Canada, has joined NAIT’s Board of Governors for a three-year term. His portfolios at Dow span environmental health and safety, product and raw material logistics, and global improvement. He has also been heavily involved in the organization’s inclusion and diversity initiatives. "I am excited to work with NAIT to inspire the next generation of manufacturers, technologists and innovators,” says Cameron.
July - September 2022
A cut above the rest
This September, Canada sent its first team to the World Butchers’ Challenge.
Among those to make the cut for the event in California was Corey Meyer (Retail Meat Cutting ’96), owner of Edmonton’s Acme Meat Market. The six-member team came away with the People’s Choice Award.
“It felt good to be recognized, and it was an incredible honour to represent the country,” says Meyer.
Read more about Corey Meyer's experience as part of Canada's first team at the World Butchers' Challenge.
A crowning achievement
On Sept. 1, NAIT president and CEO Laura Jo Gunter was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal in recognition of her contributions and service to Alberta. The medal was created before the Queen’s death on Sept. 8 to mark the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne. It is intended to honour Her Majesty’s service to Canada.
“I am humbled by this distinction,” Gunter says. "I look forward to continuing to serve Alberta, and NAIT.”
Putting their skills to the test
This October, three NAIT apprentices are competing in various European countries at WorldSkills 2022, the top event for skills competitions. Tanner Harbin made Team Canada to take part in the refrigeration and air conditioning event, Dorien Lozeau represented in car painting, and Andrik Jacobson went up against the world’s best in cabinet making.
Regardless of outcomes, the participants have already reached a level that will help define their careers. "Out of so many kids, I was one of the ones that got picked to go,” says Harbin. “I've made it this far."
Read more: Meet the three NAIT-educated apprentices competing in WorldSkills 2022
The rat (space) race
Writer and science and literacy advocate Joan Marie Galat (Biological Sciences Technology - Environmental Sciences ’84) has released her first novel. Mortimer: Rat Race to Space is the story of a lab rat determined to prove that rodents make better astronauts than humans.
His experience, however, shows him “new truths about dreams, friendship, and choosing the right thing to do.” The book is part of Galat’s efforts to encourage middle-grade interest in science, technology, engineering and math education.
Living the life of Airdrie
In 2004, Sherry Shaw-Froggatt (Marketing ’85) founded airdrielife, a magazine dedicated to celebrating all that’s good about her city. Almost 20 years later, the publication is going strong. For her efforts, Shaw-Froggatt earned the Achievement in Publishing award from the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association this September.
“As the driving force behind airdrielife, Sherry built her career on a vision of promoting arts and culture in her community and highlighting the things about Airdrie that make the city much more than a bedroom community,” says the association.
A hunger for competition
A seasoned veteran of competitive cooking, Lindsay Porter (Culinary Arts ’06) is back under the TV studio lights to test her skills, this time on the 10th season of Top Chef Canada. Currently executive chef at the Common, in Edmonton, Porter has previously competed on Guy’s Grocery Games, Fire Masters and more.
“As much as you think you’re prepped and ready, something will pop up and surprise you about yourself or the competition,” she told the Edmonton Journal in September. Top Chef Canada can be found on Food Network Canada.
Just in time for Halloween
In July, Edmonton filmmaker Brandon Rhiness (Radio and Television ’00) released his first full-length horror movie, which he wrote and directed. Grotesque is the story of Mildred Moyer, whose botched plastic surgery leads her to take revenge on everyone who ever disparaged her looks. The film premiered at the Garneau Theatre and is streaming on Amazon U.S. and U.K.
Top marks for future-finding quiz
NAIT’s marketing team won a silver Circle of Excellence award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in 2022 for its “Find your Future” quiz. The quiz “tapped into a format that resonates with all of us,” say judges. “It was well-executed and thoughtful, but also playful.” The popular project helped guide prospective attendees toward fields that matched their interests and aptitudes while shining a light on NAIT programs.
Take the Find your Future quiz!
She’s got grit
Third-year Marketing student Mikayla Balfour is breaking into the snowboarding apparel business with help from NAIT’s Mawji Centre for New Venture and Student Entrepreneurship.
With the centre’s encouragement and financial support, Balfour successfully pitched Grit Snow at pitch competitions throughout the summer of 2022, culminating in a first-place win at 150 Startups in July, where she earned $10,000 for business development and a full scholarship to Draper University’s Hero Training, an entrepreneur bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay area.
Fabulous forestry grads
This summer and fall brought two prestigious awards for Forest Technology grads. Caity Klaudt (class of ’10), an occupational safety officer with WorkSafeBC, in Kamloops, B.C., was named to Canadian Forest Industries’ annual Top 10 under 40. Among the reasons are Klaudt’s efforts to introduce local school children to the industry, as well as to foster equity, diversity and inclusion.
Joerg Goetsch (class of ’85) has been recognized with Forest Products Association of Canada’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Goetsch had an extensive career in leadership in the industry in northern Alberta. In particular, he is celebrated for his efforts at relationship building within companies, with government and with the community, including First Nations groups.
Soul Riders riding high
This July, a new Edmonton-made video game called Soul Riders scored the Fan Favourite award at the 2022 Game Discovery Exhibition, an event held by Interactive Arts Alberta. “A game of speed spectres,” Soul Riders blends exploring, racing, chaos and mischief. It’s a product of Room 322 Games, which includes game designer Matteo Dipanfilo (Digital Media and IT ’19).
Techlifetoday’s editor of the year
This September, techlifetoday’s Scott Messenger was named editor of the year by the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association. The award recognizes an individual for achieving high standards in the creation of an Alberta magazine that fulfills its mandate through engaging, relevant editorial content and who is resourceful, collaborative and brings out excellence in writers.
“NAIT has so many great stories to tell, whether they’re about the work of our staff, the success of our students or the achievements of alumni,” says Messenger. “It continues to be a privilege to do that work and to collaborate with such an exceptional team.”
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April - June 2022
Six win for top skills
Six NAIT students earned medals at the 2022 Skills Canada National Competition in Vancouver, May 26 and 27.
The gold medal winners are
- Dorien Lozeau, Car Painting
- Tanner Harbin, Refrigeration and AC
- Andrik Jacobsen, Cabinet Making
- Peter Estephan, IT Network Systems Administration
The silver medal winners are
- Maxwell Fisher, Auto Body Repair
- Warren Ference, CNC Milling
Lozeau, Harbin and Jacobsen will represent NAIT and Canada at international competitions this fall.
“The skills and experiences acquired through the Skills Canada provincial and national events, along with their polytechnic education, will set these students up for long, successful careers in whichever trade they choose,” says Matt Lindberg (Plumber ’01), dean, School of Skilled Trades.
Photo courtesy of Skills Canada
Degrees for deserving honorees
NAIT’s 2022 convocation included granting four honorary degrees to community builders from across Canada, including several holders of NAIT diplomas. This year’s honorary degree recipients include
NAIT has granted honorary degrees to those making an impact locally, nationally and internationally since 1999.
New direction through the Four Directions
Loretta Gladue (Bachelor of Business Administration '22) became the first recipient of the new Four Directions Bursary, which creates equitable opportunities for Aboriginal students to succeed in post-secondary education and helps overcome systemic barriers. “Furthering my education was important to me because it shows my daughter how you can get more out of life, become more independent, and have more freedom,” says Gladue.
In June, a crowdfunding campaign raised more than $7,000 – exceeding its $5,000 goal – to create an endowment that will fund the bursary in perpetuity.
Keeping it real
Documentary film industry veteran Kelly Wolfert (Radio and Television Arts ’93) was named chair of the board of DOC Alberta in May, following three years as a board member. DOC Alberta advocates for independent documentary filmmakers and supports its members with information sharing, programming and events. “It’s an honour to take on this role,” says Wolfert. “Documentary production has become part of my identity.”
Recently, he served as writer and director on documentaries including Brett Kissel: Stepping Inside the Circle and SpiderMable - a real life superhero story.
An ASET to his program
On April 23, Roy Sharplin (Biomedical Engineering Technology ’89) earned the Outstanding Educator Award from the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET).
A Biomedical Engineering Technology educator for 23 years, Sharplin has been driven by his belief in the importance of biomedical technologists who manage and maintain the advanced medical technology needed for Alberta’s health care system. “Alberta and biomedical manufacturers could not provide the same level of care without our grads,” he says.
Shelvie Fernan (Marketing ’16, Bachelor of Business Administration ’18) helped take her company, Fly and Fetch, to new heights by being among the winners of the 2022 HerStory pitch competition in June. Fly and Fetch is a disruptor of the international consumer shipping industry and was founded by Fernan and business partner Victoria Celi Jaramillo. The company earned a $51,000 investment from a partnership between Alberta Innovates and The 51, a venture capital group dedicated to bringing gender equity to the startup community.
Related: Is Fly and Fetch the next major shared-economy disruptor? Read the story.
Appetite for knowledge
This summer, the NAIT Culinary Team competed in the first annual Family Food Culinary Knowledge Bowl at the Culinary Federation annual conference in Saskatoon. The trivia event featured groups from schools across Canada. First-semester student Ben Sword, second-semester students Mark Austin and Lucas Hoffman, and grads Miranda McElwain (Culinary Arts ’21) and Nishaly Silva (Culinary Arts ’21) took top honours by defeating the team from Fanshawe College of London, Ontario.
Also at the 2022 conference, the first in person since the pandemic, the Federation recognized Peter Keith (Cook '12) as 2020's Chef of the Year. Keith is co-founder of Meuwly's, an artisanal deli and food market in Edmonton.
Building a new future for skilled trades
Matt Lindberg (Plumber ’01), dean of the School of Skilled Trades, has been named to the Alberta Board of Skilled Trades, created as part of the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act, proclaimed in June. The 15-member group will work to make trades education more responsive to the needs of Albertans and industry.
“We have established a board that is dedicated to enhancing the skills of Albertans, forging stronger relationships among institutions and industry, and increasing the parity of esteem with other forms of post-secondary education,” says Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of Advanced Education.
A community connector
Cecile Wendlandt, coordinator of the Mawji Centre for New Venture and Entrepreneurship, was named Connector of the Year at the 2022 YEG Startup Community Awards. Wendlandt was recognized for her efforts to link student entrepreneurs (see “Flying High,” above, for example) to resources and mentors that can help turn ideas into businesses.
In recent years, the centre has fostered the growth of dozens of startups. “She has been singularly dedicated to positively impacting students' lives through entrepreneurship,” touts the award website. “Cecile is a master connector.”
A special place in Alberta's heart
“I attended the Radio and Television Arts program at NAIT in 1977 and it has a special place in my heart,” Cam Tait (Honorary Degree ’01) once wrote. It was the beginning of a career that spanned decades and positioned Tait as one of Edmonton’s most well-known journalists. That career has now led him to be recognized as a new member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, the province’s highest honour a citizen can receive.
Kudos for content
Each year, the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association recognizes the industry’s best work in design, photography, writing and more. The program includes digital platforms, such as techlifetoday.ca. We’re grateful to have earned three nominations for the 2022 awards:
The winners will be announced at the association’s conference in September.
January - March 2022
NAIT names new vice-president students and campus life
Gerard Hayes will join NAIT as its new vice-president students and campus life on May 2.
Prevously, Hayes spent seven years as the director of student experience and business services at George Brown College in Toronto, and 14 years at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops as the director of Ancillary Services. Hayes also spent nine years at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where he directed the university’s residence and apartment complex.
In his role as vice-president students and campus life at NAIT, he'll focus on providing students with an exceptional experience outside of the classroom, through services that support their success.
The grads of Edmonton’s best restaurants
In March, Edify magazine released its annual tastemaking list of best restaurants in Edmonton – many of which are great partly because they’re owned by NAIT grads or have alumni setting the menus. Here, we boil down Edify’s list to those who developed their chops at the polytechnic.
#1: RGE RD
Chef and co-owner Blair Lebsack (Cook ’98)
Chef and owner Andrew Fung (Cook ’01, Baking ’98)
Chef and owner Daniel Costa (Culinary Arts '05)
Owner and chef Ryan Hotchkiss (Cook '12)
Best new restaurant
Owner Michelle McDonald (Culinary Arts ’16)
Head chef Zach Eaton (Culinary Arts ’16)
Co-owner Sylvia Cheverie (Marketing '09)
Head chef Tamara Solon (Cooking '15)
Chef and co-owner Nathan McLaughlin (Cook Apprentice '04)
Best fried chicken
#2: Seoul Fried Chicken
Chef and owner Jake Lee (Culinary Arts '06)
Owner and chef Ryan Hotchkiss (Cook '12)
#2: The Marc
Executive chef Spencer Thompson (Cook '12)
#2: Dorinku Tokyo
General Manager and head chef Gunho Park (Culinary Arts ’13)
Owner and chef Ryan Hotchkiss (Cook '12)
NAIT named a top researcher
Each year, Research Infosource ranks Canada’s top colleges by research income. Recently, NAIT ranked 5th of 50 – the highest Alberta institute on the list. The reported $12.3 million in sponsored research is part of what CEO Ron Freedman sees as a growing emphasis on research at the college level. “An unprecedented number of institutions – 32 – reported triple or double-digit increases in their research,” he noted.
As a polytechnic, NAIT partners with business and industry on applied research to find relevant solutions to real-world challenges.
Tops in trades teaching
As part of its 30th anniversary celebrations in 2022, Skills Canada Alberta recognized members of the education community who “go above and beyond to prepare their students.” Among this “Sturdy 30” is Auto Body Technician instructor Cecile Bukmeier (class of ’15).
Bukmeier is the first woman instructor in the program, which has a history of more than 50 years. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she continues to contribute to a variety of Skills Canada initiatives, including national and international competitions.
NAIT named a top employer – again!
For the 11th year in a row, NAIT, with more than 1,600 employees, has earned a spot on the annual list of Alberta’s Top Employers. Reasons include unique benefits, family-friendly work policies and a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“A lot has changed over the past 11 years,” said Clayton Davis, human resources associate vice-president. “But a lot has stayed the same – the passion, the innovation, the genuine care for each other’s well-being and the inclusivity of the NAIT community.”
Ooks all the way!
The majority of the 2021-22 Ooks athletics teams finished their seasons as medalists at the provincial or national level. Here’s the highlight reel, including a first for women’s basketball.
Badminton (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference)
Men’s doubles: gold
Mixed doubles: gold
Men’s singles: silver
Badminton (Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association) – men’s singles: gold
Women’s basketball – ACAC silver (vs. Lakeland, CCAA gold (vs. Vancouver Island University), a team first
Men: bronze (vs. SAIT)
Women: bronze (vs. Lakeland)
Mixed: silver (vs. Lakeland)
Men’s hockey – ACAC gold (vs. Concordia)
Women’s hockey – ACAC bronze (vs. Olds)
Men’s soccer – ACAC silver (vs. SAIT), CCAA bronze (vs. Nomades de Montmorency)
Women’s soccer – ACAC silver (vs. SAIT)
Men’s volleyball – ACAC silver (vs. Red Deer)
Grad boosts business education
MacEwan University has appointed NAIT grad Cameron Naqvi (Construction Engineering Technology ’95) as its 35th Allard Chair in Business. The president of the Cameron Development Corporation, an Edmonton-based real estate development company, will work to inspire the downtown university’s students and encourage their passion for business. Naqvi was formally introduced as chair on Feb. 10.
Garry’s greatness recognized – again!
Garry Meadus spent his career shaping collegiate sports in Alberta. He joined NAIT in 1963, the year of the polytechnic’s official opening, as a one-man Student Services shop. As part of that, he played a key role in starting the Western Inter-College Conference, the precursor to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
For work that would influence the organization for decades to come, Meadus was first inducted into the ACAC Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2022, he was named to the Hall once again as part of the “founding members” group, which received the Pioneer Award for setting a purpose for the ACAC that continues to guide it today.
Peter Leclaire joins NAIT as vice-president academic
As of March 21, 2022, Peter Leclaire will be the polytechnic’s new vice-president academic.
Leclaire brings 30 years of experience in Alberta’s post-secondary system to the role, which will focus on enhancing operations in NAIT’s four schools and the Office of the Registrar and Student Progression.
He will also play a key role in achieving the goals and vision set out in The NAIT Effect, the institute’s strategic plan.
“With its focus on students, along with talented instructors, staff and leaders, I am looking forward to being part of NAIT, and helping to propel that vision forward,” says Leclaire.
October - December 2021
Business in Edmonton magazine announced its annual roundup of top business leaders in November, including three NAIT grads among them.
“A great business leader is one who, first and foremost, is focused on people,” said Dennis Sheppard, dean of the JR Shaw School of Business and one of the 2021 judges. “A great leader is also one who spends more time looking to the future for opportunities than to the past for what could have been.” Here are the alumni who met those qualifications and more:
Stephen Moore (Plastics Processing Technology ’99), president of Orion Plastics, producer of everything from sheet plastic to end-user products, such as auto parts
Dr. Paolo Mussone recently added two notable distinctions to his distinguished career as a NAIT researcher. In November, he was named the Ovintiv Applied Research Chair in Energy, leading the polytechnic’s Clean Technologies Team. The team focuses on technology development and validation to transform natural resources and industrial byproducts into high-value chemicals.
“We look forward to the many opportunities this position will bring in advancing science, research and innovation, for both parties,” said Dave Lye, Ovintiv vice-president Canadian government relations and Sustainability. “We believe partnerships like this are a key bridge between industry and academics to drive progress in responsible science and technology.”
Soon after, in December, Mussone’s work was recognized with Dow Canada’s WesTEC Award, which honours leadership in science, humanity, education and sustainability.
A group of Alternative Energy Technology and Wireless Systems Engineering Technology students were recognized this fall by the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) for efforts to bring broadband internet to rural and remote areas.
In collaboration with the non-profit Light up the World, the students designed a modem that connects to the Starlink satellite internet network and the means to power it with renewable energy. The system is low cost, easy to install and scalable to the needs of the community. The project was named ASET’s Capstone Project of the Year, and the award recipients include:
- Natasha Bergstrom-Baier (Alternative Energy Technology ’20)
- Abdallah Farah (Alternative Energy Technology ’20)
- Jacob Maxwell (Alternative Energy Technology ’20)
- Steven Sager (Wireless Systems Engineering Technology ’20)
- Spencer Tracy (Wireless Systems Engineering Technology ’20)
Top spots for dining out
With the return of in-house dining in 2021, the online reservation platform OpenTable relaunched its Top 100 Restaurants in Canada. The list is the result of 540,000 reviews from restaurants across Canada submitted by diners themselves. Some of those acclaimed restaurants are run by NAIT grads, and include
- Modern Steak, 100 8 Ave SE, Calgary – Head chef Dustin Schafer (Cook '08)
- Riverbank Bistro, 8 Mission Ave., St. Albert – Chef and owner Daniel Ducharme (Culinary Arts '09)
- Tryst Wine and Small Plates, 100 - 21 Perron St., St. Albert – Owner Michelle McDonald (Culinary Arts ’16), head chef Zach Eaton (Culinary Arts ’16), sous chef Alyce O’Neill (Culinary Arts ’16)
- Tzin Wine and Tapas, 10115 - 104 St., Edmonton – Owner Kelsey Danyluk (Marketing '02), chef Corey McGuire (Cook '07)
Top 40 community builder
Over the course of the pandemic, blogger and social media consultant Linda Hoang (above, Radio and Television – Television '11) put her talents to work in supporting the struggling small business community, whether that meant posts designed to send customers to hard-hit but deserving independent restaurants or organizing campaigns to encourage consumers to support local (which amounted to spending roughly $50,000 at Edmonton businesses). She also continued to support local pet rescue operations, staging her annual International Cat Festival virtually. It's raised $126,000 since its inception in 2014. For being one of Edmonton's most active and creative community builders, Hoang was recognized this November as a 2021 Top 40 under 40 by Edify magazine.
July - September 2021
Cheers for local beers
The trio of grads who co-own Edmonton’s Town Square Brewing – Brandon Boutin (Steamfitter/Pipefitter ’05), Tyler McNaughton (Architectural Technology ’05) and Sterling Nordin (Heavy Equipment Technician ’02) – earned a trio of medals from the 2021 Canadian Brewing Awards. Next time you stop by the brewpub and pizzeria, don’t miss:
- bronze medal-winner Prairie Fire Rauchbier, a smoked ale
- silver medal-winner Liquid Lullaby Imperial Stout, a dark ale
- gold medal-winner Beets, a sour ale
New music from a Maverick
Edmonton-based musician Arlo Maverick (a.k.a. Marlon Wilson, Marketing ’02) has kept busy during the last 18-plus months producing a steady stream of new hip hop tracks. In July, he released Soul Merchant, a collection of seven songs that feature thoughtful lyrics, deep grooves and guest appearances by some of the top performers in the city’s music community. Find it on your favourite streaming service or pick it up at Bandcamp.
Dan Brown joins NAIT’s Board of Governors
As an energy sector veteran of 25 years, Dan Brown brings industry insight and experience to his new role as a member of NAIT’s Board of Governors. Brown spent most of his career at Syncrude Canada, where he held various positions. He also gained invaluable exposure to the post-secondary community and an understanding of its needs
as a public member of the University of Alberta Senate from 2013 to 2020.
“I am honoured to be appointed to the Board and will ensure that NAIT continues to be seen as a high-quality institution responsive to the needs of Albertans,” says Brown.
Gold in Tokyo
Having taken up cycling only a few years ago, Kelsey Mitchell (Instrumentation Engineering Technology ’16, Personal Fitness Trainer ’17) has come a long way in a short time. CBC's Mark Connolly has said she's already “proven to be one of the most powerful women in the world on a bike."
This summer, Mitchell won gold during her Olympic debut in Tokyo, in women's cycling sprint. It’s just the second gold medal in Olympic track cycling in Canadian history.
Transition to a true calling
Richard Baty began studying human resources at NAIT to transition out of the trades following a life-changing jobsite injury. It may, however, be proving to be his true calling.
This September, the NAIT student (Plumber ’10, Management ’19) was the recipient of the Eldon Emerson scholarship from the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Alberta. CPHR was impressed by Baty’s dedication to his studies and community, as well as his scholarship application article about the impact of the pandemic on current human resources practices.
Kudos for cordial
Meuwly's, an artisanal food market in Edmonton, earned a win for its lemon cordial at the 2021 Alberta Beverage Awards, held annually by Culinaire magazine. The family recipe for the sweet-tart syrup was passed down generations to Will Kotowicz (Culinary Arts '05), who now makes it at the market with business partner Peter Keith (Cook '12).
Try it in a cocktail, Keith recommends, mixing it with a high-quality gin and soda water on ice. He also suggests setting the alcohol aside to try the cordial with frozen raspberries or rhubarb (instead of ice), lightly muddled fresh mint, and Perrier or San Pellegrino (1 part cordial to 5 or 6 parts water).
Drivers of innovation
Each year, Technology Accreditation Canada invites students in tech programs across the country to submit reports on topics that can help solve industry challenges or drive innovation. Of the 24 reports entered for the 2021 contest, the one from Mechanical Engineering Technology students (and now grads, class of 2021) Stefano Bernardo, Kyra Dutton-Piskorik, Amitoj Singh and William S. Trujillo earned second place.
Judges lauded “Reliable Mold Designs For Small Carbon Fiber Parts” as being “well-executed with a strong demonstration that 3D printing applications and uses are still being revealed.”
April - June 2021
They’ve got skills
The 2021 Skills Canada competitions were held at NAIT in late spring, giving apprentices a hometown advantage. It worked! Here are the results of the competitions, which are designed to promote careers in the skilled trades and tech sectors:
Gold: Dorien Lozeau (Car Painting), Dillon Stor (Steamfitter/Pipefitter)
Silver: Maxwell Fisher (Autobody Repair), Chris Antoniollo (Refrigeration and Air Conditioning), Peter Estephan (IT Network Systems), Warren Ference (CNC Machining), Hizaarah Rossenally (Baking)
Bronze: Corbin St. Jean (Automobile Technology), Aidan Victoor (Carpentry)
Hurrah for Haraba
For more than 20 years, Heavy Equipment Technician instructor Bobby Haraba has been a leader among champions of the skilled trades. For his efforts in reshaping the program at NAIT, mentoring grads, and giving his time and energy in support of Skills Alberta, Skills Canada and WorldSkills competitions, Haraba received the gold Leadership Excellence Award for Faculty from Colleges and Institutes Canada, a national advocacy group for post-secondary education. The award follows Haraba’s induction into Alberta’s Trades Hall of Fame in 2020.
Quinn for the win
Despite their talent and passion (and reasonably priced tickets), college sports live in the shadow of pro leagues. To bring them into the spotlight, there are people like Quinn Phillips (Radio and Television – TV ’03). For her dedication in covering university-level competition in Alberta for Global News, Phillips was named the 2020-21 recipient of the Fred “Gus” Collins award, granted by the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. The honour makes her eligible for the Fred Sgambati Media Award from U Sports, which governs university sports across Canada.
An ASET to his program
Dr. Jim Sandercock is the recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Educator Award from ASET, the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta.
The award was all the more meaningful for the long-time chair of NAIT’s Alternative Energy Technology program because his nominees were students.
“This affirms that our curriculum is relevant and timely,” said an appreciative Sandercock.
Kudos for content
The recent award season was kind to NAIT and techlifetoday.ca, with four major honours bestowed upon the polytechnic and its flagship publication. Starting with the latter:
CCAE also awarded NAIT bronze for fundraising, specifically for a successful campaign to raise bursaries for students affected by COVID-19.
Salmon hatchery mastery
After completing Biological Sciences Technology in 1971, Paul Merlin took his skills to Nova Scotia where he established Merlin Fish Farms to supply smolts for the local salmon industry. More recently, he started Cape d’Or Sustainable Seafoods, one of the world’s few land-based organic salmon farms to use recirculated saltwater.
Merlin died in April but his pioneering efforts are remembered and recognized in Resolution 490, presented in the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly on April 14, 2021 and preserved in its Hansard.
Heads for business
The annual Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition transitioned to a virtual format in March 2021 for the first time, but that did hinder JR Shaw School of Business students Keilyn Beissel (Finance '20), Laura Comfort, Justina Green and Calyca Greenwald (Veterinary Medical Assistant ’13).
Eleven teams from across the province competed, facing the added challenge of working and presenting online at an event that relies heavily on teamwork – in addition to a strong business acumen – to analyze, research and present a recommendation for a fictional business challenge. The NAIT team rose to the task, earning a second-place finish.
New boss for skilled trades
This May, Matt Lindberg was named dean of NAIT’s School of Skilled Trades. The role follows Lindberg’s experiences as a student of the school (Plumber ’01), an instructor of 15 years in the Plumber and Gasfitter programs, significant involvement in provincial, national and international skills competitions, and a year as interim dean.
“Matt has an incredible knack for building innovative practices,” says Dr. Sue Fitzsimmons, provost and vice-president academic. “This will serve NAIT well as we evolve skilled trades education.”
“Beautiful and unique”
Congrats to Steve J. Adams (Biomedical Engineering Technology ’05), who shares writing and directing credits on Someone Like Me, which had its world premiere at Hot Docs 2021. The documentary – “a beautiful and unique film,” said the CBC – tells the story of Drake, a gay asylum seeker from Uganda, and a group of strangers from Vancouver’s queer community who aided in his resettlement in Canada. Someone Like Me was also screened at Vancouver’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival and Edmonton’s NorthwestFest, and will soon stream at the National Film Board, which produced the 80-minute documentary.
Flair for finance
Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association has recognized the contributions of Dr. Ivan Ourdev to the JR Shaw School of Business, where he has taught finance for 12 years, with the 2021 Distinguished Instructor Award.
It acknowledges exceptional commitment to learners and learning, which are evident in Ourdev’s work in spearheading the establishment of NAIT’s student investment club, a course stemming from his interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and his ongoing commitment to advancing hands-on business education.
Hunter snags top broadcaster honours
She’s captured listeners’ attention on the radio and turned just as many heads for quirky exploits like painting Connor McDavid in historic military garb and campaigning to name a public space Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion after the Edmonton-born actor. Now, local radio personality Lauren Hunter (Radio and Television - Radio ’13, pictured above) has captured a very impressive award: the 2021 Allan Waters Young Broadcaster of the Year. The national honour recognizes broadcasters under the age of 30 who’ve made significant contributions to their community.
“This is truly an award I have dreamed of many years for receiving,” Hunter wrote in a Twitter thread. “Even though I talk for a living, at the moment I’m finding it hard to express the right words and sincere, deep appreciation I have for this honour.”
Celebrating spring with giant rabbits
A new art installation is drawing a lot of attention for its playful subject matter: giant rabbits. Wâpos, the Cree word for rabbit, was designed by Indigenous artist Jason Carter (Graphic Comminications ’01) and the overall installation was created by Carter and Bridget Ryan. The pop-up exhibit at Beaver Hills Park in downtown Edmonton was created for the Downtown Spark festival and has been so popular it sold out.
NAIT congratulates two community members who were appointed to the polytechnic’s Board of Governors. Linda Palladino, a long-time executive with Enbridge, most recently as vice-president of human resources, joins the board for the first time, while Priti Laderoute, senior manager, technical training and development with EPCOR Utilities, was reappointed for a second term. Both appointments are effective May 29. NAIT is also saying goodbye to outgoing board member Tara Chahl.
Trio’s split showcases innovative thinking
Season tickets for major sporting events aren’t cheap and attending games requires investing a lot of time. NAIT students Niki Kearl, Real LaFrance and Katherine McDougall have a solution: Ticket Split. The idea would allow groups of people to share tickets or allow individuals to purchase shares of season tickets.
“You would be able to control your cost and your time commitments and therefore allow more people to become season ticket holders and be committed to the teams they love,” LaFrance, a business student, told CTV Edmonton.
Ticket Split was the winning idea at the Innovation Challenge, a pitch competition organized by the Mawji Centre for New Venture and Student Entrepreneurship.
Owchar rocks curling award
Jules Owchar has added another award to his already impressive collection. The long-time NAIT curling coach won the Janet Arnott Exceptional Coach Award given to reward exceptional coaching contributions and accomplishments over a significant period of time.
“It’s an honour. I’m humbled and touched that the committee considered me.”
“It’s an honour. I’m humbled and touched that the committee considered me,” Owchar said in a NAIT Ooks interview. “They’re not going to give it out to anyone, so I’m pretty proud of it.”
Owchar, 76, has coached NAIT’s curling team for 45 years, leading them to 34 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championships and two Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championships.
New radio voice of the Oilers
After 22 years calling games as the play-by-play voice of the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League, Cam Moon (Radio and Television Arts ’93) has made it to “the show.” The veteran broadcaster joined the Edmonton Oilers as a radio play-by-play announcer for regional games during the 2020-21 season.
“I was so excited. I was all sorts of jacked up,” Moon told 630 CHED’s Inside Sports with Reid Wilkins.
Oilers analysis on Sportsnet
Tony Brar (Radio and Television ’18) is another NAIT alumnus serving up insights into the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers TV reporter and host made his Sportsnet debut this season as an analyst during intermissions.
Pandemic pivot gets published
On March 15, 2020, NAIT was forced to close its doors due to the pandemic and public health rules that suspended classes at Alberta post-secondaries. Within four days, NAIT pivoted 93% of face-to-face programs to online delivery. Lessons learned from that process and the decisions made to protect the health and safety of students, staff and industry partners were shared in a recent industry article by NAIT staff member Josh Bowen, who led the polytechnic’s emergency operations centre and relaunch efforts.
A master of disaster – and mentorship
Disaster and Emergency Management instructor Josh Morin was among the first two recipients of the Marion Boon Mentorship Award from the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network. The award was established in 2020 and recognizes exemplary mentorship and leadership among disaster and emergency managers in Canada. Morin was nominated by recent grad Lexie Busby (Disaster and Emergency Management ’19).
Big spotlight for Chartier
Acclaimed Edmonton-area restaurant Chartier was recently featured on Food Network Canada’s Big Bucket Food List. The Feb. 13 episode featured the French-Canadian restaurant’s famed poutine and dishes such as eggs Donovan (think eggs Benedict but with smoked meat) and Black Forest doughnuts. Chartier is co-owned by Sylvia Cheverie (Marketing '09).
Foodies of the Year finalists
Western Living magazine’s annual roundup of culinary leaders and innovators features Edmonton’s Peter Keith (Cook ’12). The trio of Keith, Will Kotowicz (Culinary Arts ’05) and Glendon Tan was recognized for launching a Secret Meat Club from Meuwly’s Artisan Food Market.
Bringing Black music and culture to a national audience
After growing up listening to the likes of Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and later, hip-hop, Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe (Radio and Television - Radio ’00) is introducing Black music to a national audience through CBC Radio’s new show, The Block. Tetteh-Wayoe recently shared with us the significance of the new show for Black artists and culture.
Marketing awards magnificent at 40
Students, instructors and industry partners are set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of NAIT’s Student Promotional Awards on April 12. The annual event marks the advertising achievements of students in promotional campaign planning, a marketing course in the JR Shaw School of Business. Students teams work with ad agencies to deliver real-world marketing solutions for clients. This year’s teams will be judged by a panel of industry experts.
NAIT earns industry accolades
NAIT’s department of marketing and communications earned three accolades at the recent Best of CASE District VIII Awards. NAIT’s Digital Viewbook 2021-22 earned a grand gold – the highest possible honour – in the publications pivot category, which recognized innovation in creativity for work affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff from marketing and communications and advancement also won silver in the fundraising pivot category for the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund, a campaign that raised $110,000 to support students facing financial pressures due to the pandemic.
Lastly, techlifetoday writer Bryan Alary won silver in feature writing for this story about the growing popularity of meat alternatives.
published Jan. 6
Building the family business
After taking the reins of Carvel Electric, the business their father founded, brothers Joel and Jordan Jolicoeur (Electrician ’11, above) have powered up the company with significant growth and plans for more. For their efforts, Carvel recently won the 2020 Alberta Business Awards of Distinction in the Indigenous category. Jordan, who with his family is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, is now the company’s president and CEO.
Hooked on fish facts
After making mistakes in the past identifying fish in Alberta, Shona Derlukewich (Biological Sciences - Renewable Resources ’05) went on to right that wrong in a big way. Today, she’s the author of the Fishes of Alberta and Fishes of Saskatchewan field identification guides. For those efforts, Derlukewich received the 2020 Peggy Thompson Publication Award from the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists. Guides for B.C. and Manitoba are in the works.
Returning a food bank favour
Upon arriving in Canada years ago from the war-torn Persian Gulf as kids, Moe Barzagar (Construction Engineering Technology ’16) and his siblings had no choice but to turn to the local food bank for help. Now that he and two of his brothers, Matti and Hani, are the owners of Hibco Construction, they’re in a position to give back to the organization that once gave to them, as well as help other causes in and around Edmonton. Recently, their heartwarming story was captured in a video made by AMA. Good luck not getting a little weepy while watching!
NAIT named a top research institute
We’re number 3 – and very pleased! Each year, Research Infosource Inc. ranks Canada’s top research colleges by income in the form of grants, contracts and contributions. NAIT received $11.8 million in 2018-19, and ranked first for “research intensity,” the amount of research income per researcher. “NAIT’s applied research centres are working with our partners to develop practical, impactful solutions that benefit industry and the communities where they invest,” says Dr. Olle Lagerquist, associate vice-president of NAIT Industry Solutions.
NAIT dominates Trades Hall of Fame
The newly forged Alberta Trades Hall of Fame named its first members this fall, and NAIT was well represented. Each of the inaugural inductees – honoured for their contributions to the growth and success of the trades and apprenticeship training – has a connection to the institute. Congrats to:
- Heavy Equipment Technology instructor Bobby Haraba
- Herman Bruin (Plumber/Gasfitter ’70, Steamfitter ’73), a business owner who helped launch the Alberta Safety Construction Association
- Doug Golosky (Welder ’65, Bachelor of Business Administration - Hon. ’15), founder of Clearwater Welding and Fabricating, as well as Lynco Eagle, a First Nations and Métis partnership that provides training and employment for Aboriginal peoples
- honorary degree recipients Eric Newell (Engineering Technology ’00), the former CEO of Syncrude, and JudyLynn Archer (Construction Management Technology ’06), founder of Women Building Futures
A great ‘community helper’
Social media consultant Linda Hoang (Radio and Television Arts ’11) was among the Best in the Core, a roundup from The Yards magazine of great things about Edmonton’s downtown. Hoang was named in the Best Community Helpers category for “always [being] the first person to give a shoutout to local businesses” and for using her influence to try to help those who are struggling, particularly during the pandemic.
Hottest rat rod builder in town
Despite being a student of his trade, Matteo Medoro has already made a name for himself in the world of rat rods. These rustic rebuilds are a subset of hot rod culture, and the subject of more than one U.S. reality television show. Two of Medoro’s creations, built in his dad’s plumbing shop in Edmonton, have been recognized at SEMA, a premier automotive trade show, which has named the Auto Body Technician apprentice a Top 40 builder two years running, most recently in 2020.
NAIT strikes gold – again
NAIT’s Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC) has earned gold certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the international yardstick for sustainable and environmentally conscious building design and construction. Judges cited PIC’s design, indoor environmental quality and water efficiency in their assessment, which follows on the Feltham Centre’s gold certification in August 2016. Opened in 2018, PIC is where companies come for product testing, training, applied research and more.
A lifetime of giving back
For nearly three decades, Orest Myroon (Chemical Technology ’68) has recognized the value of his education and the career and life it gave him by giving back to the school where he got it. Not only has he donated almost annually to NAIT, but he has returned to campus to volunteer for events such as Open House and Convocation. On Nov. 19, National Philanthropy Day, Myroon was recognized in a virtual event held by the Edmonton and Area Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
2020 Top 40 under 40
This year, NAIT representation on Edify magazine’s annual Top 40 under 40 list comes with a twist: it’s not just our grads anymore.
But first, the grad. Leah Elzinga (Digital Media & IT ’15) ranks among this prestigious group for her efforts to introduce more women into the tech industry by having led Canada’s largest National Girls Learning Code Day event. “I talk to so many women who feel they’re becoming irrelevant," Elzinga told Edify. "But they’re brilliant and they just need some direction."
Now, the non-grad. Josh Bowen joined NAIT as an instructor following more than a decade in the military. He soon came to play a key role in the development of the Centre for Applied Disaster and Emergency Management, which segued into directing of the relaunch coordination team and the co-chair of the relaunch advisory committee, both of which have coordinated NAIT’s responses to the pandemic.
Congrats to both for their unique contributions to our communities.
Related: Josh Bowen explains what goes on behind the scenes of a disaster response, on the techlifetoday podcast.
A quick-sprouting startup
Jonathan Mui’s Agriolabs is undergoing a growth spurt. The Micro, the company’s flagship product, is a tabletop system for growing nutrient-packed microgreens that won third place at the 2020 Innovation Rodeo pitch competition, earning $2,500. Mui’s subsequent Kickstarter campaign, however, earned $42,517, and was fully funded in 20 hours. The Digital Media and IT grad (class of ’20) started Agriolabs when he was a student, with help from the Mawji Centre for New Venture and Student Entrepreneurship.
The photography of Edmonton-based Liam Mackenzie (Photographic Technology ’16) was featured in the September issue of Photo Ed magazine. According to Mackenzie’s website, his “photographic motto is to photograph subjects as authentic as possible. His work explores sexualities, identities, and stories through color, movement, and illustrations.” Mackenzie’s award-winning work has appeared in Avenue magazine (now Edify) and in several exhibitions.
The write stuff
Amy Eversley (Personal Fitness Trainer ’10) has put her energy and talents to new use in writing, most notably dystopian fiction for young adults, a genre in which she is producing several series. Her latest is Evermarked, which begins with characters embroiled in the pursuit of a difficult peace in a terrifying world. All four novels were published in the summer of 2020 by Aelurus Publishing, which also reissued Everley’s previously self-published series, Watcher.
Praise for John, 316
With a screenplay written by local filmmaker Brandon Rhiness (Radio and Television ’00), John, 316 was nominated for five awards from the Alberta Media Production Industries Association: best dramatic feature, director, performance, cinematographer and original musical score. The film, about a psychiatric hospital patient with an uncanny resemblance to Jesus, was shot at locations around Alberta. The awards will be announced on Oct. 8.
And, once again … Stephani Carter!
If there were an award for the most times to appear on this page, Stephani Carter (Interior Design Technology ’01) would win that, too. The founder of EcoAmmo, a sustainability consulting company, is back, now as the 2020 Canada Green Building Council’s Green Building Champion. “Stephani Carter has had an immeasurable impact on green building in Alberta,” says the council. No doubt, this is not the last this page will see of Carter.
Nathaniel Painchaud, Dan Oake and Navneet Kaler (Biomedical Engineering Technology ’18) have been recognized for a final class project to create a smart seeing-eye cane for people with visual impairments.
The cane senses information about the environment and relays it to the user. For their efforts and innovation, the trio was awarded the 2020 Capstone Project of the Year Award by Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta, besting four other finalists from Alberta post-secondary institutions.
The stenographer's secrets
Captioning and Court Reporting student Isabelle Lumsden (and grad: Radio and Television ’18) has caught the attention of Buzzfeed for her explanation of how professionals in her field capture entire conversations in a relatively small number of keystrokes. Among her TikTok posts is “Stenograph Tour,” which has been viewed more than three million times. Buzzfeed featured Lumsden “explaining what goes on behind the keyboard” on Instagram.
Quick – and critical – thinking
“Is there a benefit to having paramedics make decisions on their own?” asks Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic student Radu Venter in a paper he published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. The alternative, he points out, is to continue with a focus on “prompt transport to a hospital” where doctors can take over. The thought-provoking paper raises the question of how changes might be made to the benefit of patients.
A great new neighbour
NAIT’s neighbour to the west, the upcoming Blatchford community, has won the 2020 Sustainable Communities - Neighbourhoods award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The federation, a national voice for local governments, pointed to the community’s carbon-neutral vision, low-impact development and focus on transit. Blatchford will also be home to future expansion of NAIT’s Main Campus.
A helping hand from Hansen
In response to the onset of COVID-19, Edmonton’s Hansen Distillery shifted production from whisky, gin and other spirits to hand sanitizer, which was in short supply. Owners Shayna Hansen and Kris Sustrik (Welder ’01) donated the sanitizer to front line workers including STARS Air Ambulance staff. The efforts were recognized with an award from the Alberta Northern Lights Volunteer Recognition Program, administered by the Government of Alberta.
Double gold for techlifetoday
Techlifetoday was honoured with several awards and nominations at the 2020 Alberta Magazine Awards for its stories that feature NAIT alumni, staff and other members of the polytechnic’s community.
At the online gala on June 25, the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association awarded the publication gold for Digital Presence, for the overall site. Writer Scott Messenger also won gold for profile writing for “Daryl McIntyre, veteran Edmonton anchorman, at the crossroads.” McIntyre graduated in 1983 from Radio and Television Arts.
It isn’t just top scores that matter to the NAIT Ooks; top marks rank right up there with athletic performance. Each year, the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association acknowledges those who excel on the court, rink or field as well as in the classroom with Academic All-Canadian awards, its most prestigious student-athlete honour. In 2020, congrats go to:
- Tyler Walsh, Badminton (Business Administration ’19, Management ’17)
- Eyota Kwan, Badminton (Bachelor of Technology student, Chemical Technology ’18)
- Jonah Tobinski, Curling (Alternative Energy Technology ’19, Construction Engineering Technology ’17)
- Nicholas Dulvenvoorde, Curling (Respiratory Therapy student)
- Sarah Moorji, Soccer (Disaster and Emergency Management ’19)
- Mitch Lewington, Volleyball (Architectural Technology ’19, Millwork and Carpentry ’17)
Each year, the Alberta Water and Wastewater Operators Association recognizes two Water and Wastewater Technician students with the AWWOA - NAIT Achievement Award. Ashley Smith (class of ’19) took the honours and a cash prize for the program’s best marks in the 2019 Winter intake, following grad Jeremy Price’s (class of ’19) win the previous fall.
Alum joins Board of Governors
In May, Andy Neigel (Forest Technology ’81) joined NAIT’s Board of Governors. Neigel’s career in forestry spanned more than 25 years in Alberta and British Columbia, most recently in executive leadership. He is appointed for a three-year term.
“His experience and knowledge of the skilled trades will be extremely helpful to the board and to NAIT,” says board chair Ray Pisani (Management ’84).
Author taps into craft beer boom
Techlifetoday writer and editor Scott Messenger has published his first book. Tapping the West: How Alberta’s Craft Beer Industry Bubbled out of an Economy Gone Flat features the stories, struggles and successes of the people behind the province’s burgeoning beer industry. The book was published by TouchWood Editions in May.
New funding for NAIT applied research
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is supporting innovation at NAIT with a combined $3.65 million in funding for three research projects:
- The Centre for Oil Sands Sustainability received $1.75 million for a new technology access centre that will allow researchers to work with industry on technologies to address oil sands tailings, water treatment, and bitumen extraction and analysis.
- NAIT’s Centre for Boreal Research received $1 million over five years for the renewal of the NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Boreal Reclamation and Reforestation. This will advance applied research in reclamation on former industrial sites.
- NAIT’s Applied Bio/Nanotechnology Research Chair received $900,000 to help companies reduce and reuse residual materials by adding value to them.
Grads on Fire Masters!
Food Network Canada's Fire Masters pits chefs from across the nation against one another in a three-round barbecue challenge. On season two, these NAIT grads will see if they can handle the heat as competitors:
- Steve Buzak (Culinary Arts '98), executive chef at Royal Glenora Club
- Lindsay Porter (Culinary Arts ’06), owner and chef at London Local
- Steven Brochu (Culinary Arts ’06), owner and chef at MilkCrate
- Paul Shufelt (Cook ’01), owner and executive chef, Workshop Eatery, Woodshed Burgers
- Levi Biddlecombe (Culinary Arts ’11), owner and chef at Why Not Cafe and Bar
CASE studies in excellence
Each year, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recognizes the best in communications and alumni relations in post-secondary education. As part of District 8, which includes Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, NAIT and techlifetoday.ca were honoured with several awards, including
- Electronic Blogs, newsletters and magazines: techlifetoday.ca, gold and grand gold
- Feature writing: Spark of Inspiration, gold; Why a Blanket Exercise Made Me Disappointed, Uncomfortable and Angry, silver
- Individual Photographs: NAIT Ambassador Jordan Jolicoeur (above), silver; Ironworker, bronze
- Series of related illustrations/photo illustrations: 5G will Change the World, bronze
- Best practices in digital communications: NAIT’s Holiday Card, Tinsel Topple, finalist
Leaders for a greener future
This February, the Canada Green Building Council recognized one NAIT staff member and one alumna at the Alberta Green Building Excellence and Leadership Awards. Alternative Energy Technology chair Dr. Jim Sandercock earned the Inspired Educator Award for helping to foster a new generation of professionals dedicated to sustainable design, green building and more. Stephani Carter (Interior Design Technology '01) earned the Green Building Champion Award for her ongoing efforts as a council advocate. Carter was behind the formation of the organization’s Alberta chapter.
Tops in tailings
Dr. Heather Kaminski has been named a SHEInnovator for her work as a research chair in NAIT’s Centre for Oil Sands Sustainability. As part of the UN Women’s strategy, SHEInnovates seeks to address gender inequality in fields concerned with solving some of Alberta’s most complex problems. Kaminski’s expertise focuses on tailings remediation.
Playing with heart
Over the 2019-20 men’s Ooks hockey season, Brendan Jensen was committed to more than just his team. The goalie was also dedicated to helping the Brain Trauma Foundation, motivated by an injury experienced by a friend’s father. For each save he made, he planned to donate $2, expecting to come up with $1,000 to $1,500. Thanks to solid regular season play and extra donations from friends, family and organizations, Jensen’s donation was $4,032.
Each year, Edmonton’s Avenue magazine names the best restaurants in the city. For 2020, the top five were each run by NAIT grads:
- Biera, Christine Sandford (Culinary Arts '07, above)
- RGE RD, Blair Lebsack (Cook ’98)
- Uccellino, Daniel Costa (Culinary Arts '05)
- Bündok, Ryan Hotchkiss (Cook '12)
- Corso 32, Daniel Costa (Culinary Arts '05)
The Alberta craft beer boom has been bolstered by NAIT grads whose passion has led them to join the growing industry. That passion was recognized once again, at the 2020 Alberta Beer Awards. Two breweries with grads among the staff or ownership earned awards for
Each November, Edmonton’s Avenue magazine unveils its prestigious Top 40 under 40. Almost every year, it includes NAIT grads. In 2019, the polytechnic was proud to see the following alumni recognized for their contributions to their professions and communities:
“She educates businesses and policymakers about greener possibilities, one building at a time.” - Avenue Magazine
Related: A tour of EcoAmmo’s offices in the Mosaic Centre, Canada’s first net-zero commercial building
“She breaks barriers and confronts adversity in her community and across the country.” - Avenue Magazine
“She creates a space for people who feel shut out of traditional fitness centres.” - Avenue Magazine
Related: Read about Dube-Lockhart’s work to remove barriers to fitness for people with autism, and about a program she co-developed to help overcome body shame.
From board chair to parliamentary seat
After several years as a chair of NAIT’s Board of Governors, as well as a leader in Edmonton’s business community, James Cumming (Construction Engineering Technology ’81, Distinguished Friend of the Institute ’18) made a successful entry into politics in 2019 as a member of the Conservative party. In the October federal election, Cumming unseated Liberal incumbent Randy Boissonnault.
“I am here to represent all the constituents of Edmonton Centre,” Cumming said following the win. “I’ll do that with all my heart.”
First Nations food writing
Released in fall 2019 and already an award winner, Shane Chartrand’s tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine is rare among cookbooks. As much as it showcases the talents of the chef/author (Cook ’04), it’s an exploration and celebration of his First Nations heritage. The title, explains the publisher, translates from Cree as “Come in, you’re welcome, there’s room.” Given the book's more than 75 tantalizing recipes, it’s easy to accept the invitation.
Praise for PIC
With its soaring atrium, clean lines and tidy, minimalist decor, NAIT’s Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC) has stunned visitors since it opened in fall 2018. Recently, it also caught the eyes of award judges.
On Oct. 17, 2019, GEC Architecture earned a silver medal in the institutional category of the third annual MASI Interior Design Awards, which span Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. PIC was also acknowledged with an Award of Excellence in the Showcase Awards from the Consulting Engineers of Alberta for institutional building engineering by Fast + Epp, KFR Engineering and SMP Engineering.
50 years on air
CKUA's weekly program Natch'l Blues is how Holger Petersen shines the spotlight on his beloved roots and blues music. Last fall, though, the radio station shone that light on Petersen (Radio and Television Arts ’70) himself, who celebrated 50 years on air. Just 19 years old when he started, the newbie DJ's expectations were modest.
"You're just hoping that you get the show renewed!" says Petersen today. "Who thinks ahead too much, you know?"
Related: Holger Petersen looks back on 50 years of playing the blues on CKUA radio
Little Duchess arrives (with dessert)
Duchess Bake Shop, one of Edmonton’s most celebrated bakeries (and world-renowned, incidentally), has branched out. After years of perfecting their craft at their west end location, Jake Pelletier (Culinary Arts ’07) and co-owners Giselle Courteau and Garner Beggs have established Little Duchess in the Ritchie Market to serve up a smaller selection of the bakery’s top sellers and favourites.
The milestone roughly coincided with the shop’s second publication, Duchess at Home, penned by Courteau.
New leadership for Treaty Six
After being elected the youngest chief in the modern history of Enoch Cree Nation, Billy Morin (Civil Engineering Technology ’11, Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management ’13, Honorary Degree ’19), was recently honoured with additional responsibilities. In January, he was named Grand Chief of Treaty Six by the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations.
“It is with balance of humility and pride that I accept the appointment,” said Morin. “I give thanks to all my fellow Chiefs at Confederacy for their belief in me to serve all of our Nations and people.” The one-year term began on Jan. 1.
Grads heat up Edmonton
In January, forbes.com called Edmonton “one of Canada’s hottest destinations” (despite the bone-chilling cold snap). Among the magazine’s reasons to “see this underdog” are restaurants and attractions that owe at least part of their now international appeal to NAIT grads. Here’s a look at who’s helping the capital shed its status as a city unsung:
- The funicular gets a nod for providing access to “some excellent city panoramas.” Completed in fall 2017, that project was overseen by the Jesse Banford (Construction Engineering Technology ’01), the city's director of facility infrastructure delivery.
- Behind every restaurant on the list is a grad who’s elevating the Edmonton food community by setting innovative and flavour menus, including:
Biera, featuring head chef Christine Sanford (Culinary Arts '07) and chef Lindsay James (Cooking '15)
Bundok, owned by chef Ryan Hotchkiss (Cook '12)
Pip, co-owned by chef Nathan McLaughlin (Cook Apprentice '04)
Uccellino, owned by chef Daniel Costa (Culinary Arts '05)
The one to watch (and listen to, thanks to her audiobook)
In some circles, NAIT health and wellness coordinator Amy Eversley (Personal Fitness Trainer ’10) is better known as AJ Eversley, author of more than one series of sci-fi “dystopian” novels. After turning Watcher, book one of her first series, into an audiobook, she earned a 2019 Independent Audiobook Award in the young adult category. Narrators Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell gave voice to her words.
This past summer, the NAIT Board of Governors welcomed five new members, including alum Ray Pisani (Management '84) as its chair.
"This institution has a great role to play in this province and in Canada, and I look forward to working collaboratively with government and the board to promote the kinds of hands-on, technology-focused skills that NAIT provides,” says Pisani, who is also the president and CEO of Alberta Blue Cross. The other new board members are
- Kris Mauthe (Accounting ’95), president and CEO of Argus Machine Co. Ltd.
- Marlea Sleeman, president of Sil Industrial Minerals
- Kristina Williams, president and CEO of Alberta Enterprise Corporation
- Janet Riopel, president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce
- Paul Verhesen (Honorary Bachelor of Technology in Construction Management '19), CEO of Clark Builders
On the right track
Opened in December 2017, Edmonton’s river valley funicular was honoured with an international design award in July 2019. While the award went to Dialog Design, principal and landscape architect Jill Robertson noted that the project would not have been possible “without the vision of the city.” Among those visionaries was Jesse Banford (Construction Engineering Technology ’01), the City of Edmonton director of facility infrastructure delivery who oversaw the project.
As seen on HBO
Justin LaChance (Radio and Television - TV ’03) may labour behind-the-scenes at HBO, but his work gets noticed just the same. The editor was honoured with a 2019 Emmy nomination for single-camera editing on the dramatic series Sharp Objects. The nod follows a 2017 nomination for editing on another celebrated HBO drama, Big Little Lies.
Pedalling to Tokyo
Kelsey Mitchell (Instrumentation Engineering Technology ’16, Personal Fitness Trainer ’17) hadn’t been on a bike for 10 years before she tested her skills at an athlete’s training camp in 2017. But she had a knack for it that suggested the sport had been waiting for her to return. With hopes to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, the Team Canada cyclist set a record at the 2019 Pan Am games on the 200-metre track. Mitchell covered the distance in 10.89 seconds, more than a tenth of a second faster than the previous record holder.
A car seat that cares
Rachel Beaudette, Emer Burke and Jennifer Pettem were included among recent finalists for capstone project of the year by the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta. Then Biomedical Engineering Technology students (now grads of the class of 2018), the trio presented its plan for the Guardian Angel car seat, which includes an app that alerts caregivers to dangers such as unsafe temperatures and location information. “I thought it was a great idea that would be very meaningful to people if we were able to create this and make it a reality,” says Pettem.
Shorthand for awesome
Jeffrey Weigl (Legal and Realtime Reporting ’05) successfully defended his title as the North American champion at the 2019 National Court Reporters Association shorthand speed contest. Scoring a combined accuracy rate of 97.54% on speeds ranging 220-280 words per minute, Weigl extended his winning streak to three consecutive years.
A link in the lifeline
As an Advanced Care Paramedic instructor, Jennifer McNalley knows the importance of blood donors. After recruiting more than 140 people to give blood following a colleague’s accident in 2017, she’s carried on her efforts by supporting and encouraging her students to promote and volunteer with donation events. In September 2019, her work as a peer recruiter was recognized by Canadian Blood Services at its annual Honouring Canada’s Lifeline ceremony in Ottawa.
Sustainable city living
NAIT Physics chair Jocelyn Crocker doesn’t let city living get in the way of fostering all manner of biodiversity and pursuing what seem like rural activities. Instead, she’s struck a balance. It's obvious in her work to establish community gardens, foster composting efforts, keep bees, raise chickens, turn her yard into a tiny farm. For all that and more, she's been named the 2019 winner of the Sustainable Food Edmonton Golden Wheelbarrow Award for sustainability citizen of the year.
Kings of the kitchen
Canada’s Great Kitchen Party returns this October as one of the country’s top cooking competitions. The Edmonton event will feature nine chefs, three of them NAIT grads:
The winner of the event will head to Ottawa in February to compete against 11 chefs who cooked their way to the top of their regional qualifying round.
2019 alumni award winners
Each year, NAIT singles out a small group of alumni and highlights their accomplishments with alumni recognition awards. This year's cohort represents a class act in community building, though in many different ways:
- Hubert Lau (Computer Systems Technology ’91), president of TrustBIX Inc., earned the Alumni Award of Distinction for efforts to improve national food safety and security
- Ken Jurina (Marketing ’95), president and CEO of Top Draw Inc., won the Alumni Award of Excellence for being a pioneer of digital marketing and helping to build the industry
- Sean Rayner (Marketing ’01), president and CEO of VETS Group, also earned the award of excellence for helming a nearly century-old local HVAC and mechanical company and using its services to support local non-profit organizations
- Justin Cross (Personal Fitness Trainer ’12), personal trainer and owner of Cross Conditioning, was given a Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award for promoting a lifelong love of exercise and well-being among young people
- Linda Hoang (Radio and Television - TV '11), blogger at Linda-Hoang.com and social media consultant, also earned a spirit award for using social media as a community-building tool, and for founding the Edmonton International Cat Festival, which raises funds for shelters and rescue groups
Arlo Maverick (a.k.a. Marlon Wilson, Marketing ’02) has become one of the best-known names in Edmonton hip hop thanks to not only a keen understanding of marketing and the music business but for writing consistently catchy, emotional and smart songs. At the 2019 Edmonton Music Awards that talent was recognized with an award for rap/hip hop recording of the year for his song "Ceiling Fan." The award follows on 2017 accolades for rap recording of the year.
A great friend of NAIT
For more than a decade, Kerry Brown has contributed to the growth of NAIT as a member of its Board of Governors and adviser on several committees. On June 5, he was recognized for his support and guidance by being named the 2019 Distinguished Friend of the Institute. Brown is an accountant and angel investor who has helped companies and entrepreneurs succeed in several areas, including telecommunications, fuel cells and biotechnology. "Being aligned with NAIT, I’ve been part of an organization that is playing an integral part in evolving business and technology in Alberta," said Brown.
Praise for poetry
NAIT English instructor Kelly Shepherd is the winner of the 2019 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize for his collection Insomnia Bird: Edmonton Poems. The award was announced at the Alberta Literary Awards in June. Shepherd was also nominated for the the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for poetry. "This is all very overwhelming," he says. "Just to be nominated for these is a real honour."
The best way to say it
NAIT's marketing and communications team caught the attention of two major awards programs for internal and external messaging and storytelling. IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) Edmonton Capital Awards recognized
- Michael Liu with a Capital Award of Excellence for safety communications behind the campaign to promote NAIT Alert, an on-campus emergency notification system
- Katie McLaughlin and Tracy Niven with a Capital Award of Merit for the communications strategy for Respect at NAIT, a program designed to foster a respectful workplace
- McLaughlin again, with an Award of Merit for work on a blog for the polytechnic's executive director of human resources
The Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE), an organization dedicated to advancement and fundraising in post-secondary education, awarded
Tops in trades
Muhammad Afzal, a fourth-year Auto Body Technician apprentice, will represent Team Canada in Kazan, Russia this summer at the 2019 WorldSkills, an international competition for young tradespeople. The 21-year-old had represented Alberta at skills competitions for two straight years, including last year’s provincials and nationals where he won silver medals. Among those who may one day follow in Afzal's footsteps are NAIT-educated winners of the 2019 Skills Canada Alberta competition:
- JJ Crowder, silver, architectural technology and design
- Cornelio Loewen, gold, autobody repair
- James Schurek-Banack, silver, autobody repair
- Levi Stephani, bronze, autobody repair
- Shannon Paluch, gold, car painting
- Dorien Lozeau, silver, car painting
- Thomas Marchand, bronze, car painting
- Warren Ference, gold, CNC machining
- Jerome Pallasigui, silver, culinary arts
- Peter Viersen, gold, electrical installations
- Jordan Ammar, bronze, electrical installations
- Laina Vanderwell, silver, graphic design
- Maileen Mabuyo, bronze, graphic design
- Damion Dinius, bronze, heavy equipment services
- Daniel Eyestone, gold, industrial control
- Nolan Ulliac, silver, industrial mechanics millwright
- Alex Slobodian, bronze, industrial mechanics millwright
- Peter Estephan, gold, IT Network Systems Administration
- Nicole Kroetsch, gold, mechanical insulation
- Sky Haspeck, silver, mechanical insulation
- Justine Dodds, bronze, mechanical insulation
- Aurabelle Gaudreault, gold, mechatronics
- Erin Wilson, silver, mechatronics
- Avleen Passi, bronze, mechatronics
- Brock Shabada, gold, mobile crane
- Jerrad Ullock, silver, mobile crane
- Jesse Lunam, bronze, mobile crane
- Anastasiia Maksakova, gold, painting and decorating
- Zachary Mutlow, silver, painting and decorating
- Kyle Howard, bronze, painting and decorating
- Christopher Antoniolli, silver, refrigeration
- Michael Aleniuk, bronze, sheet metal
- Trevor Bizicki, gold, steamfitter/pipefitter
Excellence in entrepreneurship
Business leader and philanthropist Ashif Mawji (Computer Systems Technology ’92) was named a 2019 inductee to the Alberta Business Hall of Fame by Junior Achievement Northern Alberta and NWT.
Mawji is well-known, successful entrepreneur in Edmonton’s tech sector, as well as a past member of NAIT’s Board of Governors, an honorary degree recipient, Top 50 Alumni and a winner of the Alumni Award of Distinction. In 2017, he and his family donated $1 million to establish the Mawji Centre for New Venture and Student Entrepreneurship.
What a workplace!
For the eighth year in a row, NAIT has been name one of Alberta’s Top Employers, thanks in part to its focus on the physical and mental well-being of its staff.
“I say this year after year, but I really do believe that it’s our people who make us a top employer,” says Clayton Davis, executive director of human resources. “It’s people who make you feel supported, respected and valued. It’s people who support you in achieving your goals, and it’s people who celebrate with you when you’ve accomplished them.”
Alberta’s Top Employers is an annual competition that in 2019 recognized 75 of the province’s exceptional workplaces.
High honours in human resources
NAIT Human Resource Management students took the top spot at the HRC-West student competition. The annual event invites student groups from across the region to apply classroom knowledge to an HR business case.
The NAIT squad – which included Aleksandra Jaruga, Alyson Howey, Aslanowicz and coach Laurie Pisesky – placed ahead of competitors including Mount Royal University and the University of British Columbia. Teams presented their solutions in front of a three-member panel of industry professionals.
A spotlight on dark matters
For decades, author Joan Marie Galat (Biological Sciences Technology - Environmental Sciences ’84) has turned science into great stories for kids and young adults – and won awards for it. Recently, she was recognized with a 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award in the category of non-fiction chapter book for Dark Matter: Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution. Informed by Galat’s own experiences with nature, the book sheds on an important but often overlooked ecological issue in a way that is informative and entertaining.
Fourth-year Electrician apprentice Mateo Berrio is one of the world’s fasted electricians. The title was tested and validated in late 2018 at Ideal Industries’ National Skills Competition, held in Orlando, Florida. Berrio finished first in the category of Canada West.
The event opened the NAIT student’s eyes to the true potential of his chosen career. “These guys here are the most passionate,” he said. “We don’t just want to be an electrician, we want to be the best one. It’s a lifestyle.”
Hurrying hard into the hall of fame
“It’s kind of surprising,” Jules Owchar said of being inducted in March into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame. It really shouldn’t have been. Over a career that is approaching four decades, he’d seen 17 Briers, including those where he coached Kevin Martin (Petroleum Engineering Technology ’87) and more recently, when he coached the Gushue squad. Owchar continues to coach the NAIT Ooks curling teams.
Culinary Arts student Tasha Tologanak has created a recipe for the success of her community of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, with the key ingredient being giving back. Last Christmas, she organized a hamper program, gathering and distributing winter clothing. She also collected donations for turkey dinners. The efforts added to community building work earlier in the year, including a drive for household items for people affected by local emergencies such as fires.
“I feel like I should help,” says Tologanak. “It’s not a lot of effort and people are so appreciative of those little things.” For that effort, Tolaganak was recognized with an Outstanding Young Woman’s Award through the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council in March.
Cheers to great beers
Town Square Brewing, owned and operated by Brandon Boutin (Steamfitter/Pipefitter ’05), Tyler McNaughton (Architectural Technology ’05) and Sterling Nordin (Heavy Equipment Technician ’02), ranked high among Alberta’s best breweries at the 2019 Alberta Beer Awards. In fact, of the 76 that entered the competition, Town Square placed third, on the strength of awards for four of its craft beers:
- Gold: Pond Surfer California Common
- Silver: Forged Rye Amber
- Bronze: Prairie Fire Rauchbier
- Bronze: Beets by Sinden Sour
The south Edmonton brewpub opened in September 2017.
In February, techlifetoday.ca, NAIT’s online magazine, was honoured to win grand gold for best external newsletter or blog from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VIII. The award builds on a gold medal the site earned in 2018. In addition, CASE recognized several other NAIT projects:
- Youth and Duty, a profile of grad and Enoch Cree Nation Chief Billy Morin, won silver for feature writing (it also won silver at the Alberta Magazine Awards)
- For use of user-generated content on social media, digital communications specialist Liz Pittman won silver
- The Essential Effect: 100 Reasons to Celebrate, documented the impact of NAIT’s most successful fundraising campaign, and won a bronze medal for innovation and another for web design
- The Rainmaker, a story about a storm-chasing grad and his custom weather forecasting business, won bronze for feature writing
NAIT’s communications and web team was also recognized in other recent awards programs.
Women of vision
On April 4, Global Edmonton celebrated alumni Cecile Bukmeier (Auto Body Technician '15), Marni Panas (Management ’91, Computer Systems Technology ’02) and Veronica Ryl (Emergency Medical Technician ’08) at the Woman of Vision event.
The Woman of Vision program celebrates the accomplishments of women from the Edmonton area.
Bukmeier, NAIT's first-ever female instructor in the Auto Body Technician program, was recognized for her perserverance and advocacy for women in the skilled trades. Panas is a powerful advocate for human rights and the transgender community. Ryl, a former paramedic, was celebrated for her life-saving skills and spirit of adventure.
Coolest award of the season
Ice carving artist and Royal Glenora Club chef Steve Buzak (Culinary Arts '98) and Scott Harrison showed their chops at the Harbin China International Snow Sculpture Art Expo in January. The pair ranked third of 34 teams for their patriotic piece (which features, at its heart, a special nod to their home province).
After taking up mead making just two years ago, instructor David Whitaker (Cooking ’83) won his first award for the hobby this summer.
Whitaker’s “Kilkenny Mead” (made with just honey, water and yeast) earned silver at the inaugural Horde at the Hive competition in Okotoks. Judges were impressed by its clarity, aroma and balance.
Proud to be smoke free
This summer, the Smoke-Free Spaces Committee named NAIT among its Leadership Award winners for Alberta. Criteria include a smoke-free environment, prohibition of smoking materials and support for students and staff looking to kick the habit. The committee includes Alberta Health Services, Alberta Blue Cross and several other health-focused organizations.
JR Shaw School of Business instructor Rhonda Dever earned the 2018 Senator Thelma Chalifoux Award, named for the former Métis Elder in Residence at NAIT’s Nîsohkamâtotân Centre. Dever (left) was nominated by student Morgan Reynolds (Management ’17, right), who was encouraged by the instructor to research her roots in a class project.
“I couldn’t be more thankful for her and the work she does to encourage Aboriginal students to explore our culture,” says Reynolds.
2018 alumni award winners
Each year, NAIT highlights and celebrates the accomplishments of a select group of outstanding grads through the Alumni Recognition Awards. Congrats to the 2018 winners:
Alumni Award of Distinction
Darren Lunt (Marketing ’90, second from right), President, Weldco Companies
Alumni Award of Excellence
Ronda Gras (Chemical Technology ’91, third from left), Associate R&D Scientist, Dow Chemical Canada
Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award
Carolyn Kincade (Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management ’17, Dental Laboratory Technology ’07, third from right), Osseointegration Technologist, Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine
Kathy Le (Radio and Television – Television ’11, second from left), Reporter and Anchor, CTV News Calgary
Better homes for bats
NAIT students made history this fall as one of the first-ever Canadian medallists and winners in the Quarry Life Award in national and international categories.
The competition is held every two years by HeidelbergCement to enhance biodiversity at the company’s mining operations around the world. This year it attracted 317 proposals from across North America. The multidisciplinary group from NAIT took second place for efforts to build better houses for bats, conserving the population at a quarry near Cadomin, 300 kilometres west of Edmonton. Internationally, however, they placed first in the category of biodiversity management.
“The students approached this process in a truly NAIT fashion by identifying an issue and coming up with a solution,” says instructor Dave Critchley (Forest Technology ’99, Biological Sciences Technology – Renewable Resources ’98).
Queen of the kitchen
RGE RD chef de cuisine Davina Moraiko (Culinary Arts ’05) took top honours at Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Edmonton, a 10-chef competition that picks up where Gold Medal Plates left off. Moraiko’s win – for a unique take on blood sausage – earned her a spot at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna in February.
Top marks from international students
In a recent national survey, international students at NAIT ranked the polytechnic among the top schools in Canada for quality of education and overall experience.
“I’m pleased that these results affirm our efforts,” says Alison Lewis, associate vice-president Campus Life.