A Complex Opening: Promoting an Innovative Learning Space at SAIT Polytechnic

Melanie Simmons / SAIT Polytechnic / Calgary, Canada

The Business Need or Opportunity

SAIT Polytechnic’s vision is to be recognized as Canada’s premier polytechnic and one of the world’s finest, setting the standard in education, training and innovation. President Irene Lewis launched a 10‐year strategic plan and a 100‐year campus master plan to transform SAIT and to change perceptions about the value of trades and technology careers and education so students and influencers view them as first-choice options.

The CDN$400 million Trades and Technology Complex—the most significant expansion in SAIT’s 96‐year history—makes SAIT a clear first choice. Government, alumni, industry partners, community, students and staff came together in an unprecedented way to make the complex a reality.

To help address a looming worker shortage, the complex was announced in September 2008 with a CDN$300 million contribution from the province of Alberta. The provincial government estimates 19,000 people retire each year, and by 2021, up to 114,000 people will be needed to fill positions. The new complex has the potential capacity for an additional 8,100 full- and part‐time students each year, focusing on the high-demand sectors of energy, construction, and manufacturing and automation. Innovative and interactive, the complex not only houses state‐of‐the‐art labs and flexible learning spaces but also serves as a living classroom with exposed features throughout. SAIT needed to share this story with the community.

SAIT worked with the media during the design and construction process of the Trades and Technology Complex, but it was the official opening in August 2012 that offered a tremendous opportunity to position SAIT as Canada’s premier polytechnic.

SAIT’s market research and analytics team conducted a survey in December 2011 to gauge awareness of the complex and measured its impact on perceptions of SAIT.