As SAIT marks its 100th year this October, few can be credited as much for such an accomplishment as its own instructors.
While students come and go, venturing through SAIT’s hallways for only a few short years, the teachers remain, and have seen the facility grow over the years.
“Anyone coming here gets the sense that this place is alive and moving,” says Marc Bussiere, instructor in SAIT’s School of Construction.
“It is an institute that, if you have an idea and you’re willing to make it happen, they will see that it does happen.”
Applying to SAIT on a whim without expecting to land the job, Bussiere was hired an instructor 11 years ago, teaching architectural history, design, and building systems.
In that past decade alone, the faculty of Architecture and Technology has seen a complete overhaul of its programs to make a stronger effort to connect to the world of design and construction.
It’s a change Bussiere has pushed for.
“We have to expose our students to international opportunities,” he says.
Five years ago, Bussiere brought his class across the globe to collaborate with university students in Turkey, building projects side by side over the Internet.
Bussiere has also twice taken students to Guatemala, to build shelters for impoverish communities. A third trip is planned for this February.
“The challenge of architecture is building something as simple as possible with almost no money to do it,” he says.
With another full reworking of the curriculum planned in two years, it shows that program is under constant re-evaluation, to make sure that industry and credential requirements are met.
“The challenge is, you have to keep [those factors] in mind and balance all of those elements,” says Lyndal Turner, instructor in the MET (mechanical engineering technology) program.
Turner came to SAIT in 2003, having previously been an education officer for the Royal Air Force before coming to Canada with his wife in 1997.
As part of a team of nine MET instructors, Turner was involved in a major redesign of the program five years ago, shaping the classes to be more practical and hands-on.
Turner says the facility has become more collegial over the years, working together well under SAIT president David Ross.
Of course, one of the most obvious evolutions the campus has seen is in its physical layout, having expanded substantially over the years.
“When I was finishing the fourth year of my machinist apprenticeship, the campus centre was just scheduled to open in the fall of 1980,” recalls Rob Sadowski, an instructor in SAIT’s School of Manufacturing and Automation.
Sadowski’s career at SAIT began unconventionally, answering to a job advertised in the paper as a maintenance machinst in 1989, only to be offered a teaching position in 1994.
Since then, Sadowski has taken on multiple roles throughout his career at SAIT, serving as academic co-ordinator for four years and academic chair for a year after that.
“I feel privileged to have had such a long career at SAIT and fortunate to be a part of this organization, [as well as] to have a small piece in someone else’s education and future.
“Sometimes, years later, to see a former student who thanks you for something you said or did, that’s pretty rewarding,” says Sadowski.
Bussiere also expressed his gratitude to be a part of SAIT.
“[Working for SAIT] is one of the best decisions in my life – simple as that.
“I love being in the classroom and teaching the next generation of people that are going to be in this field,” says Bussiere.
Turner shared similar sentiments, admitting that it’s not about the duration of the institute’s presence that makes his time at SAIT worthwhile.
“What makes SAIT so valuable to me is the interactions with the students.
“Bumping into them in the future and seeing how far they’ve come,” says Turner.
To be a relevant educational facility for more than 100 years is no small feat, and definitely one worth acknowledging.
“I think we need to celebrate these milestones, not only to celebrate where we’ve been, but where we’re going as well,” says Bussiere.