NAIT is paving the way for Alberta’s competitiveness on several hot-button issues. On Nov. 2, NAIT held its second annual Research Symposium at the Shaw Theatre, focusing on a wide variety of issues, including future energy, digital economy and natural resources. The full day event was planned by NAIT’s applied research, innovation and industrial services teams. The symposium used an informal panel discussion format to promote interactivity between panelists and the audience.
According to NAIT President and CEO Dr. Glenn Feltham, NAIT is “a partner to industry … [which] responds to the needs of Alberta.” He promoted the event as an opportunity for NAIT and industry to collaborate and share business solutions that contribute to the success of Alberta’s industries.
Topics included future energy systems, the digital economy, diversification of natural resource and more. By holding the event on site, Dr. Feltham said it was also an opportunity to “bring industry to NAIT and see its facilities.” \
Unlike many other energy or technical symposiums and conferences, registration for the NAIT event was free as part of an effort to be more accessible.
Dr. Feltham said the impact for students is very positive. “The event brings research and development to NAIT, which benefits all.”
For attendees such as Dr. Lauren Mercier, research and innovation specialist at NAIT, the event provided a good opportunity to “interact with industry … learn about current challenges and [perhaps preview the latest] state of the art solutions.”
Dr. Mercier, whose role partially involves securing funding for various projects, stated the Applied Research Group always “works closely with industry collaboration” and is “focused on collaborative work.”
According to Amanda Stadel, NAIT Marketing and Communication specialist, the “event was full capacity” with attendance by trade members, academics, government, as well as NAIT staff and students. With approximately 180 guests, industry representatives included Stantec (an international organization in engineering, design, and consulting), C-FER Technologies (large scale research and development in hydrocarbon), Siemens Canada (automation and digitization experts) and many more. Tim Cartmell, Edmonton City councillor for Ward 9, also spoke at the event.
Students can become involved in projects undertaken by NAIT’s applied research team through work terms, summer jobs and, of course, capstone projects. Capstone projects are sponsored by industries and give student teams the chance to develop solutions to real world problems, typically during a six-month timeline.
Dr. Feltham stated that next year, the symposium will coincide with the opening of the NAIT Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC). Dr. Feltham said the PIC will be the “symbolic front door to NAIT” with the state-of-the art facility being a hub for applied research and development. The PIC is considered to be one of the largest facilities of its kind in Alberta. Construction is still underway on 118 Avenue.
– Colin Jordan
Photo by Stephanie Cameron