The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology is referred to as a leading polytechnic. I have never been more proud than when I have to watch my computer screen buffer for five minutes trying to open one application. Seeing the lag and constant freezing while editing a school project in Adobe Premiere and unable to sync the audio and video – nothing is better. This state-of-the-art trade school, with its smartboard that will not respond to the smartmarker, no matter how much persistence my instructor has, is so charming.
I often go to the CAT Building and use the Star Trek style hand sensors to open the doors, only to be immediately scolded for using the handicap exit. Trudging through the 10-minute walk from the LRT to my building at the other end of campus, I wonder why they haven’t installed a gondola or one of those airplane conveyor belts for people like me with little to no patience and a long way to walk.
I’ve lately wondered why renting out equipment for my program of Radio and Television has become so complicated. It was once a simple scan of the ID card and a printed pink return slip. Now it’s e-mail them, be invited to a Google spreadsheet, book a time, go to item stores, have your barcode scanned and sign a full page return slip. I keep using my smartphone to get radio interviews rather than go through the marathon for signing out recording equipment.
The highlight this semester was being waist deep in an audio project when the program stopped responding for a good 20 minutes. I nearly had a mental breakdown. Finally, I had no choice but to reboot and hope that it would all still be there. I lost about five per cent of the files that I needed and couldn’t remake them, so I lost marks on my assignment. Thank you, technology.
Then there is the version of Windows that’s not up to par with the latest computer programs or the spreadsheets I haven’t used in five years. That Coke machine that gave you a free can when you hugged it was pretty cool, but did it really benefit us? While the CAT Building looks like an impressive structure straight from the pages of a sci-fi novel, it’s a lot of empty space. They have the smart glass on the second floor but no one outside that program sees the cool stuff they can do. I can only imagine it looks like all the holographic stuff that Iron Man does in his lab. I’ve gone days at a time just using data on my phone because the Wi-Fi, which I need to use for one of my courses, is unresponsive or too slow.
In my first semester, I had planned to get work done in the library where it would be quieter. Not only is it not so silent but the computers move like snails. I know they have a 3D printer in the LTC (Learning and Teaching Commons) but I’ve yet to find a reason to go and see it for myself. I’m assuming I’m allowed to 3D print anything but I do know it takes hours to make stuff. Hours that I don’t have as a full-time student. Again, it’s a cool thing but is it making my experience as a student any easier? It’s another case of something showy that isn’t very practical for trade school students, technological or otherwise.
It’s easy to complain about modern day technology woes but I’ve been around long enough to remember when you couldn’t use the Internet because someone was using the land-line phone. I remember the terrible hums and twangs as the dial-up turned on. We’ve come a long way, even in the last 12 years. With only just over a decade under humanity’s belt, it will continue to advance. The future will have things that we’ll still complain about, I’m sure. But I am curious to know what states the other polytechnics are in if NAIT is in the lead.
– Kennedy Lane