Kudos for everything from cooking to conservation
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.
Praise for poetry
On April 3, the Writers' Guild of Alberta announced the shortlist for the 2019 Alberta Literary Awards and the City of Edmonton Book Prize.
NAIT English instructor Kelly Shepherd's Insomnia Bird: Edmonton Poems earned two nominations: the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for poetry and the Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize. The poems offer unique, quirky and insightful perspectives on the rapidly growing and changing city that Shepherd calls home.
"This is all very overwhelming," he says. "Just to be nominated for these is a real honour."
Winners will be announced June 8 in Edmonton.
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.