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NAIT turns 50

Sphere of Influence: Institutional Memory

Jan 3, 2013

by Alberta Venture Staff

When Krishan Kamra was hired as NAIT’s first laboratory sciences department head a little more than 50 years ago, he had his work cut out for him. After all, the newly created school was missing a few key elements: students, teachers and buildings in which to bring the two together. Kamra was responsible for finding and hiring the first instructors for NAIT’s programs, and he made a point of hiring people who might not have been experienced as teachers but held at least a first-level supervisor’s position with
a company.

NAIT turns 50 this year, and much has changed – including the $40 tuition fee students paid in 1963 – but the hiring approach that Kamra first implemented in 1962 still remains. “From the very first day, we knew that the way we would teach was going to be very hands-on,” NAIT president Glenn Feltham says, “and from the very first day we were in partnership with industry.” That partnership has continued, too, as more than 90 per cent of the graduates from the technical institute find jobs in their field of study every year. “Alberta will only achieve its ambitions if it is able to meet the skills crisis that we are facing.”

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Bricks and Mortar: The Mortar Trades Building was the first to open at NAIT, and the first class of 29 students began attending classes in one corner of the building in October of 1962. The campus added a second building, in 1963, when Premier Ernest Manning officially opened the institute.

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C-Suite Connections

NAIT alumni have gone on to lead companies in the province in a variety of sectors, from energy and construction to hospitality and finance. Meet a few of its high-profile alumni:

article_nait_Randy_Eresman Randy Eresman
Occupation:
President and CEO of Encana
Graduated: 1980, petroleum engineering technology
article_nait_Guy-Turcotte Guy Turcotte
Occupation:
President of Stone Creek Resorts
Graduated: 1972, gas technology
Companies founded: Chauvco Resources, Fort Chicago Energy Partners, Western Oil Sands
article_naitFredAtiq Fred Atiq
Occupation:
President and CEO of Next Equities and Fiberex Glass
Graduated: 1972, mechanical engineering technology
Head of the Class

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Bill Riches was the first student to enrol at NAIT. He was a 26-year-old employee of Alberta Government Telephones at the time, and it sent him there to begin an electrician’s apprenticeship program. Riches, now 76, completed the program and finished his apprenticeship. He would return to NAIT in the 1980s to apprentice as a baker.

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