The times, they’ll be a changin’ in SAIT’s next 100 years, Ross says

As SAIT prepares to celebrate its centennial, the institute’s President and CEO Dr. David Ross thinks the future lies in being technologically innovative.

“Accelerated technology is a key for massive change,” Dr. Ross said in an interview with The Press on the eve of the birthday celebration.

Discussing what he thinks Calgary can look forward to at SAIT, Dr. Ross predicted that SAIT’s programs will continue to evolve over the next 10 or 20 years.

“We live in interesting times,” said Dr. Ross in a conversation at the Senator Burns Building.

“There is nothing static.”

In the last 25 years, everything from classes to learning technology has changed, he noted.

“It’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device),” said Dr. Ross.

With virtual reality and other technologies on the way, Dr. Ross said he questioned the role of human activity in the performance of some tasks.

Referencing the popular TV series Star Trek, Dr. Ross said a Canadian team was working to create a real-life Tricorder, a self-scanning device to monitor and diagnose health conditions.

Keeping up, he says, is a priority for the post-secondary school.

“You continue to evolve and layer in relevance,” said Dr. Ross.

“SAIT wants to provide those opportunities,”

Dr. Ross said real world simulation has been provided to different programs at SAIT with “state of the art” equipment.

The most recent electronic grid simulator for the Electrical Engineering Technology program in the Johnson Cobbe Energy Centre was made possible by a $760,000 AltaLink donation, said Dr. Ross.

Dr. Ross said SAIT’s drill and crane simulators, located on various campuses around the city, are innovative as well.

The reality television show Amazing Race Canada featured the crane simulator in its most recent season, said Dr. Ross.

Dr. Ross said SAIT supports a “clean” view, and Green Building Technologies has already begun research into the creation of energy-friendly homes.

SAIT.ca says a three-year $665,000 research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada has been received for research into precision drone animal tracking in cattle ranching.

Christopher Huot, an UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) enthusiast, said he thinks it’s important for students to have the opportunity to be involved with such leading edge research and development.

Drone Maintenance: UAV(Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) enthusiast Christopher Huot does a pre-flight check with his custom made quadcopter in Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.
Drone Maintenance: UAV(Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) enthusiast Christopher Huot does a pre-flight check with his custom made quadcopter in Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.

It’s good “to be able to take it to new heights,” said Huot.

“No pun intended.”

Eye In Sky: Christopher Huot and his UAV(Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) during a flight with a set of First Person View goggles in Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.
Eye In Sky: Christopher Huot and his UAV(Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) during a flight with a set of First Person View goggles in Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.

According to Huot, an article on Engadget.com, an online publication that covers everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics said that a private high school in Japan will offer courses dedicated to drones and robotics.

“They will cover piloting, maintenance, system programming, as well as an overview of aviation and radio laws,” said Huot.

Orange-Four-Inch: Christopher Huot displays his custom made FPV (First Person View) quadcopter in Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. Named the 'Foranger' after it's orange colour scheme and four-inch propellors.
Orange-Four-Inch: Christopher Huot displays his custom made FPV (First Person View) quadcopter in Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.
Named the ‘Foranger’ after it’s orange colour scheme and four-inch propellors

CTV published an article about a New Brunswick high school that also launched a similar program, said Huot.

Dr. David Ross said SAIT is already receiving recognition for its work in innovation.

“[SAIT] is no longer looked at as the second cousin in post-secondary”, said Dr. Ross.

“The vision goes beyond that.”

Accelerated technology is a key for massive change. – Dr. David Ross

Dr. Ross said in a perfect world, he would like to see everyone get a seat at the institute.

“I want SAIT to be the go-to” post-secondary school in Calgary, said Dr. Ross.

The vision is for graduates to have a global perspective and be able to start a career right away.

On Oct.16, SAIT will celebrate its 100th birthday, and Dr. Ross said he wants everyone to participate and enjoy what is to come for this “once in a lifetime” event.

About Caroline Green 2 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Caroline Green is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2016-17 academic year.