The latest addition to the NAIT campus, the Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC) is set to open this fall.

The 190,000-square-foot building will house an applied research centre, innovation and manufacturing spaces, testing labs, simulation equipment and various learning and interaction spaces throughout. It will sit on the northeast corner of NAIT’s main campus.

NAIT invested approximately $45 million, while the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund contributed $34.98 million to the project.

Dr. Glenn Feltham, CEO and President of NAIT, explains that the PIC has been a goal for many years in order to increase partnerships with industry, give students high-quality and valuable education and remain competitive with other North American institutions.

“The innovation centre is all about making enterprise more competitive. As the world becomes … more competitive, for Alberta to compete and for Albertans to fully participate, we’re going to need to get better at what it is we do,” Feltham said.

Feltham explains the centre is going to be transformative for industries across Canada and is one of North America’s largest innovation spaces.

It is one of few models that utilizes industry partners for both product innovation, applied research, technology improvement, and enhanced educational opportunities.

“I think we’re developing a new model for how postsecondary can work with industry. I think it’s a very different model than is utilized in other institutions in North America but is fundamentally a model based on industry being a partner,” he said.

Although the PIC will be a huge tool for industry research and testing, its primary purpose is to better serve and prepare the students of NAIT for industry.

“Our graduates enable and are foundational to the success and competitiveness of our enterprises,” said Feltham. “I think that this will benefit all people at NAIT. If we are truly working with industry at the highest level, that strengthens those partnerships and is great for students, and ultimately this will come back into classrooms.”

The building is polytechnique in design, including modern-looking building materials like glass, concrete, and masonry. Photovoltaic panels installed in the foyer will generate over 55-kilowatts of electricity per hour to be used throughout the building.

A specific opening date has not yet been set, but construction is on track for an official opening in mid-October.

  • Shawna Bannerman