Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Top stories of the decade

The best in features, profiles and news, 2010-19

How did we pick the best techlife and techlifetoday.ca stories of the decade?

Don't worry – we won't say that it was agonizing, like we were trying to choose favourites among children. No one singles out a kid and says, "Well, more people have looked at you, told us they like you, and you've received some nominations and awards, so you're on the list. Sorry to the rest of you!" But that's what we did with the list below.

It so happens, however, that this criteria allowed us to capture the variety of content we've produced over the last 10 years, be it a profile of an inspiring NAIT alum, an examination of an Alberta industry, or a look at our culture or history. These stories are not like children, but we're proud of them just the same, and we hope you love them they way we do.

So as not to play favourites, here they are in chronological order (along with the top NAIT news stories).

President Glenn Feltham's unusual introduction to NAIT

glenn felthamWhen Dr. Glenn Feltham arrived at NAIT as its sixth president, he learned about polytechnic education in the best way he could: by rolling up his sleeves. Over the nine weeks of "Project President," he participated in roughly 40 programs, trying everything from welding to extracting DNA from a banana to creating world-class meals. He got to know NAIT, Feltham recalled, but just as importantly, NAIT got to know NAIT all over again.

Eleven months in Antarctica

spencer smirl in antarctica

In January 2013, Spencer Smirl (Heavy Equipment Technician '07) took part in the Coldest Journey, an international expedition to cross the Antarctic in winter. Here, in his own words and pictures, Smirl shares an extraordinary account of determination and survival.

Edward Gatzky, a.k.a. Gothic Knight, helps revive pro wrestling in Alberta

edward gatzky, gothic knight, pure power wrestling

Is pro wrestling sport or theatre? In a way, it doesn't matter, since the passion of the people behind it is undeniably real. We joined Edward Gatzky (Dietary Technology '88) on the eve of his retirement from life in the ring for a revealing look at pro wrestling and its impact on one man's life.

How Marni Panas helped make history for gender identity and expression in Alberta

marni panas

The efforts of Marni Panas (Management ’91, Computer Systems Technology ’02) to live an authentic life have benefited not just her, as a transgender woman, but countless Albertans. In 2015, she played a key role in writing gender identity and expression into the province's Human Rights Act. It was a milestone in a marathon of advocacy that, with the end not yet in view, she shows no signs of quitting.

Youth and Duty: Chief Billy Morin pursues long-term prosperity for Enoch Cree Nation

billy moring, chief, enoch cree nation

After being elected as the youngest chief in the modern history of Enoch Cree Nation, Billy Morin (Civil Engineering Technology ’11; Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management ’13) started down a path guided by a need to pursue progress while honouring heritage. Doing so wouldn't come without a cost.

Time's up. #MeToo has come for the skilled trades

megan shechosky

Entertainment may have been the most spectacularly exposed of industries when the #MeToo movement went viral in 2017, but it was not the only haven for such behaviour. Here, we look at the lives and careers of women in the skilled trades in Alberta.

Spark of inspiration: Elise Coppens blazes a trail in corporate cannabis

elise coppens, cannabis entrepreneur

Elise Coppens (Marketing ’10) was into cannabis well before it was legalized in October 2017. That is, she was a pioneer in the industry. After getting her start as the first employee of one of Canada's largest producers, Coppens has since lighted out as an entrepreneur in what remains a budding industry, ripe for the picking.

How Alberta is poised to become a hub of the hemp industry

hemp crop

Hemp and cannabis may be related, but they're not the same (one of them won't get you high). That relation, though, has until now held back an industry dedicated to producing both fibre and superfoods. Now, a NAIT instructor, along with a handful of grads, are at the forefront of establishing a new Alberta agri-business.

Why a blanket exercise made me disappointed, uncomfortable and angry

blanket exercise, NAIT

A techlifetoday writer examines his own lack of understanding about the impacts of colonialism on the lives of Canada's Aboriginal peoples.

Maker of NAIT's original logo mosaic revisits her work 50 years later

shiela hardy, creator of NAIT logo mosaic

"I thought after all these years, they would have taken it down," said Shiela Hardy, gazing up at the NAIT logo mosaic she created more than half a century ago. But how could anyone do away with an essential piece of NAIT history? We revisited the making of the piece (or pieces, more than 250,000 of them), which Hardy assumed lost to the passage of decades.

Daryl McIntyre, veteran Edmonton anchorman, at the crossroads

daryl mcintyre

Daryl McIntyre (Radio and Television Arts ’83), in all likelihood, will always be Edmonton's longest-serving news anchor. That's because the industry has changed – so much so that, in September 2019, it laid him off after more than 30 years at CTV. We caught up with McIntyre at the crossroads, as he candidly considered his future in an altered media landscape.

NAIT news stories of the decade

NAIT turns 50. In 2012, the polytechnic celebrated a half-century of practical, hands-on education. It was the perfect opportunity to look back on where NAIT came from, and how that has influenced where it's going.

First Pride Week. In keeping with its values of inclusion and the celebration diversity, NAIT held its first Pride Week in 2014. An enthusiastic Dr. Glenn Feltham, former president and CEO, led the parade.

Techlifetoday launches podcast. In September 2018, we took to the airwaves (or their online equivalent) to tackle topics ranging from mental health, to preventing online fraud, to Aboriginal culture and much more.

Centre for Applied Technology opens. Supported by Essential: The NAIT Campaign, the most successful fundraising effort in the polytechnic's history (to the tune of $125 million), the Centre for Applied Technology opened as the new heart of Main Campus in August 2016. The 555,000-square-foot building became home to three of NAIT's four schools.

Productivity and Innovation Centre opens. Main Campus welcomed the addition on a new "front door to industry," with the fall 2018 opening of the Productivity and Innovation Centre. The project was supported by a $34.9-million investment from the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

NAIT secures Blatchford lands. A deal several years in the making was celebrated in early 2019, with the polytechnic acquiring enough land on the adjacent former airport lands to effectively double in size. “This will be transformational for NAIT," said Feltham, "serving our land needs well into the future.” 

Dr. Glenn Feltham retires. After nine years, NAIT's sixth president and CEO retires. The polytechnic, Feltham insisted, will always have a special place in his heart. “I will cheer for the rest of my life from the sidelines, loudly and unabashedly.”


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