Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

New career camps give teens a taste of polytechnic life

Kids get hands-on experience with 3D printers and heavy equipment

While other 14-year-olds were watching YouTube, playing video games or hanging out at the mall, Gideon Cortez spent part of his summer at a NAIT career camp, building an electronic circuit and a plastic housing for it.

“I’m really into computers and stuff,” the Grade 9 student said, as he and his fellow campers waited in the polytechnic’s Productivity Enhancement Service Centre for their creations to print on a 3D printer worth about $250,000. “My school has a small 3D printer, but nothing like this one.”

Cortez (above, right) was among the first to take NAIT’s new 3D Creator camp, one of 2 new “career camps” the polytechnic offered alongside the usual sports and recreation camps for kids as young as 5. Career camps are aimed exclusively at teens aged 14 to 17, giving them a preview of post-secondary programs in technology and trades. A second career camp at the recently opened Spruce Grove campus showed junior-high and high-school students how to operate heavy equipment – from forklifts to mobile cranes – on simulators and on the real machines.

nait career camp in edmonton heavy equipment crane and hoisting operator technician“We have a new facility with a new yard and a brand new simulator lab so we figured it was a way to get the kids really engaged – show them what we do and show [our] courses in a hands-on environment,” said Steven Gaudet (Crane & Hoist Operator - Boom Truck ’08), interim chair of the Crane and Hoisting program.

Wow factor

Future plans include potential camps in areas like welding and automotives, said summer camps coordinator Trever Turner. “The idea is to give kids a taste of NAIT, and maybe give them that ‘wow’ factor of something that really interests them, so they come back to NAIT when they finish high school,” he added.

Amog Ramasubramaniyan (above, left) 14, hoped the 3D design and electronics skills he learned in the 3D Creator camp will come in handy for his future career as an astronaut. “I like exploring and I like space,” he said. “I really want to go to Mars.”

Until then, he was having fun learning some 3D modelling skills. “I watch a lot of 3D movies. I like how we get to make our own design and print it and keep it – I can’t do that anywhere else.”

The 3D Creator camp ran in July and runs again Aug. 21-25; the heavy equipment operator camp ran at the Spruce Grove Campus July 10-14. In some cases, campers also have the opportunity to receive 2 high school credits for attending career camp.

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