Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

NAIT community award winners

Kudos for everything from cooking to conservation

2019 alumni award winners

2019 nait alumni award winnersEach year, NAIT singles out a small group of alumni and highlights their accomplishments with alumni recognition awards. This year's cohort represents a class act in community building, though in many different ways:

Musical maverick

Arlo Maverick (a.k.a. Marlon WilsonMarketing ’02) has become one of the best-known names in Edmonton hip hop thanks to not only a keen understanding of marketing and the music business but for writing consistently catchy, emotional and smart songs. At the 2019 Edmonton Music Awards that talent was recognized with an award for rap/hip hop recording of the year for his song "Ceiling Fan." The award follows on 2017 accolades for rap recording of the year.

A great friend of NAIT

kerry brown, distinguished friend of NAITFor more than a decade, Kerry Brown has contributed to the growth of NAIT as a member of its Board of Governors and adviser on several committees. On June 5, he was recognized for his support and guidance by being named the 2019 Distinguished Friend of the Institute. Brown is an accountant and angel investor who has helped companies and entrepreneurs succeed in several areas, including telecommunications, fuel cells and biotechnology. "Being aligned with NAIT, I’ve been part of an organization that is playing an integral part in evolving business and technology in Alberta," said Brown.

Praise for poetry

insomnia bird: edmonton poems, thistledown press, kelly shepherd

NAIT English instructor Kelly Shepherd is the winner of the 2019 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize for his collection Insomnia Bird: Edmonton Poems. The award was announced at the Alberta Literary Awards in June. Shepherd was also nominated for the the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for poetry. "This is all very overwhelming," he says. "Just to be nominated for these is a real honour."

The best way to say it

IABC award winnersNAIT's marketing and communications team caught the attention of two major awards programs for internal and external messaging and storytelling. IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) Edmonton Capital Awards recognized

  • Michael Liu with a Capital Award of Excellence for safety communications behind the campaign to promote NAIT Alert, an on-campus emergency notification system
  • Katie McLaughlin and Tracy Niven with a Capital Award of Merit for the communications strategy for Respect at NAIT, a program designed to foster a respectful workplace
  • McLaughlin again, with an Award of Merit for work on a blog for the polytechnic's executive director of human resources

The Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE), an organization dedicated to advancement and fundraising in post-secondary education, awarded

Tops in trades

muhammad afzal, worldskillsMuhammad Afzal, a fourth-year Auto Body Technician apprentice, will represent Team Canada in Kazan, Russia this summer at the 2019 WorldSkills, an international competition for young tradespeople. The 21-year-old had represented Alberta at skills competitions for two straight years, including last year’s provincials and nationals where he won silver medals. Among those who may one day follow in Afzal's footsteps are NAIT-educated winners of the 2019 Skills Canada Alberta competition:

  • JJ Crowder, silver, architectural technology and design
  • Cornelio Loewen, gold, autobody repair
  • James Schurek-Banack, silver, autobody repair
  • Levi Stephani, bronze, autobody repair
  • Shannon Paluch, gold, car painting
  • Dorien Lozeau, silver, car painting
  • Thomas Marchand, bronze, car painting
  • Warren Ference, gold, CNC machining
  • Jerome Pallasigui, silver, culinary arts
  • Peter Viersen, gold, electrical installations
  • Jordan Ammar, bronze, electrical installations
  • Laina Vanderwell, silver, graphic design
  • Maileen Mabuyo, bronze, graphic design
  • Damion Dinius, bronze, heavy equipment services
  • Daniel Eyestone, gold, industrial control
  • Nolan Ulliac, silver, industrial mechanics millwright
  • Alex Slobodian, bronze, industrial mechanics millwright
  • Peter Estephan, gold, IT Network Systems Administration
  • Nicole Kroetsch, gold, mechanical insulation
  • Sky Haspeck, silver, mechanical insulation
  • Justine Dodds, bronze, mechanical insulation
  • Aurabelle Gaudreault, gold, mechatronics
  • Erin Wilson, silver, mechatronics
  • Avleen Passi, bronze, mechatronics
  • Brock Shabada, gold, mobile crane
  • Jerrad Ullock, silver, mobile crane
  • Jesse Lunam, bronze, mobile crane
  • Anastasiia Maksakova, gold, painting and decorating
  • Zachary Mutlow, silver, painting and decorating
  • Kyle Howard, bronze, painting and decorating
  • Christopher Antoniolli, silver, refrigeration
  • Michael Aleniuk, bronze, sheet metal
  • Trevor Bizicki, gold, steamfitter/pipefitter

ashif mawjiExcellence in entrepreneurship

Business leader and philanthropist Ashif Mawji (Computer Systems Technology ’92) was named a 2019 inductee to the Alberta Business Hall of Fame by Junior Achievement Northern Alberta and NWT.

Mawji is well-known, successful entrepreneur in Edmonton’s tech sector, as well as a past member of NAIT’s Board of Governors, an honorary degree recipient, Top 50 Alumni and a winner of the Alumni Award of Distinction. In 2017, he and his family donated $1 million to establish the Mawji Centre for New Venture and Student Entrepreneurship.

What a workplace!

For the eighth year in a row, NAIT has been name one of Alberta’s Top Employers, thanks in part to its focus on the physical and mental well-being of its staff.

“I say this year after year, but I really do believe that it’s our people who make us a top employer,” says Clayton Davis, executive director of human resources. “It’s people who make you feel supported, respected and valued. It’s people who support you in achieving your goals, and it’s people who celebrate with you when you’ve accomplished them.”

Alberta’s Top Employers is an annual competition that in 2019 recognized 75 of the province’s exceptional workplaces.

nait wins best workplace 8 years in a row

High honours in human resources

NAIT Human Resource Management students took the top spot at the HRC-West student competition. The annual event invites student groups from across the region to apply classroom knowledge to an HR business case.

The NAIT squad – which included Aleksandra Jaruga, Alyson Howey, Aslanowicz and coach Laurie Pisesky – placed ahead of competitors including Mount Royal University and the University of British Columbia. Teams presented their solutions in front of a three-member panel of industry professionals.

A spotlight on dark matters

Dark Matters book coverFor decades, author Joan Marie Galat (Biological Sciences Technology - Environmental Sciences ’84) has turned science into great stories for kids and young adults – and won awards for it. Recently, she was recognized with a 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award in the category of non-fiction chapter book for Dark Matter: Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution. Informed by Galat’s own experiences with nature, the book sheds on an important but often overlooked ecological issue in a way that is informative and entertaining.

Lightning-fast electrician

Fourth-year Electrician apprentice Mateo Berrio is one of the world’s fasted electricians. The title was tested and validated in late 2018 at Ideal Industries’ National Skills Competition, held in Orlando, Florida. Berrio finished first in the category of Canada West.

The event opened the NAIT student’s eyes to the true potential of his chosen career. “These guys here are the most passionate,” he said. “We don’t just want to be an electrician, we want to be the best one. It’s a lifestyle.”

Hurrying hard into the hall of fame

“It’s kind of surprising,” Jules Owchar said of being inducted in March into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame. It really shouldn’t have been. Over a career that is approaching four decades, he’d seen 17 Briers, including those where he coached Kevin Martin (Petroleum Engineering Technology ’87) and more recently, when he coached the Gushue squad. Owchar continues to coach the NAIT Ooks curling teams.

jules owchar and kevin martin

Northern star

Culinary Arts student Tasha Tologanak has created a recipe for the success of her community of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, with the key ingredient being giving back. Last Christmas, she organized a hamper program, gathering and distributing winter clothing. She also collected donations for turkey dinners. The efforts added to community building work earlier in the year, including a drive for household items for people affected by local emergencies such as fires.

“I feel like I should help,” says Tologanak. “It’s not a lot of effort and people are so appreciative of those little things.” For that effort, Tolaganak was recognized with an Outstanding Young Woman’s Award through the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council in March.

Cheers to great beers

Town Square Brewing, owned and operated by Brandon Boutin (Steamfitter/Pipefitter ’05), Tyler McNaughton (Architectural Technology ’05) and Sterling Nordin (Heavy Equipment Technician ’02), ranked high among Alberta’s best breweries at the 2019 Alberta Beer Awards. In fact, of the 76 that entered the competition, Town Square placed third, on the strength of awards for four of its craft beers:

  • Gold: Pond Surfer California Common
  • Silver: Forged Rye Amber
  • Bronze: Prairie Fire Rauchbier
  • Bronze: Beets by Sinden Sour

The south Edmonton brewpub opened in September 2017.

brandon boutin town square

Celebrated storytelling

In February,, NAIT’s online magazine, was honoured to win grand gold for best external newsletter or blog from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VIII. The award builds on a gold medal the site earned in 2018. In addition, CASE recognized several other NAIT projects:

  • Youth and Duty, a profile of grad and Enoch Cree Nation Chief Billy Morin, won silver for feature writing (it also won silver at the Alberta Magazine Awards)
  • For use of user-generated content on social media, digital communications specialist Liz Pittman won silver
  • The Essential Effect: 100 Reasons to Celebrate, documented the impact of NAIT’s most successful fundraising campaign, and won a bronze medal for innovation and another for web design
  • The Rainmaker, a story about a storm-chasing grad and his custom weather forecasting business, won bronze for feature writing

NAIT’s communications and web team was also recognized in other recent awards programs.

techlife award winners

Women of vision

On April 4, Global Edmonton celebrated alumni Cecile Bukmeier (Auto Body Technician '15), Marni Panas (Management ’91, Computer Systems Technology ’02) and Veronica Ryl (Emergency Medical Technician ’08) at the Woman of Vision event.

The Woman of Vision program celebrates the accomplishments of women from the Edmonton area.

Bukmeier, NAIT's first-ever female instructor in the Auto Body Technician program, was recognized for her perserverance and advocacy for women in the skilled trades. Panas is a powerful advocate for human rights and the transgender community. Ryl, a former paramedic, was celebrated for her life-saving skills and spirit of adventure.

Coolest award of the season

Ice carving artist and Royal Glenora Club chef Steve Buzak (Culinary Arts '98) and Scott Harrison showed their chops at the Harbin China International Snow Sculpture Art Expo in January. The pair ranked third of 34 teams for their patriotic piece (which features, at its heart, a special nod to their home province).

Marvellous mead

After taking up mead making just two years ago, instructor David Whitaker (Cooking ’83) won his first award for the hobby this summer.

Whitaker’s “Kilkenny Mead” (made with just honey, water and yeast) earned silver at the inaugural Horde at the Hive competition in Okotoks. Judges were impressed by its clarity, aroma and balance.

Proud to be smoke free

This summer, the Smoke-Free Spaces Committee named NAIT among its Leadership Award winners for Alberta. Criteria include a smoke-free environment, prohibition of smoking materials and support for students and staff looking to kick the habit. The committee includes Alberta Health Services, Alberta Blue Cross and several other health-focused organizations.

Cultural reconnection

rhonda dever and morgan reynoldsJR Shaw School of Business instructor Rhonda Dever earned the 2018 Senator Thelma Chalifoux Award, named for the former Métis Elder in Residence at NAIT’s Nîsohkamâtotân Centre. Dever (left) was nominated by student Morgan Reynolds (Management ’17, right), who was encouraged by the instructor to research her roots in a class project.

“I couldn’t be more thankful for her and the work she does to encourage Aboriginal students to explore our culture,” says Reynolds.

2018 alumni award winners

nait alumni award winners 2018

Each year, NAIT highlights and celebrates the accomplishments of a select group of outstanding grads through the Alumni Recognition Awards. Congrats to the 2018 winners:

Alumni Award of Distinction 
Darren Lunt (Marketing ’90, second from right), President, Weldco Companies

Alumni Award of Excellence
Ronda Gras
(Chemical Technology ’91, third from left), Associate R&D Scientist, Dow Chemical Canada

Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award
Carolyn Kincade (Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management ’17, Dental Laboratory Technology ’07, third from right), Osseointegration Technologist, Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine
Kathy Le (Radio and Television – Television ’11, second from left), Reporter and Anchor, CTV News Calgary

Better homes for bats

quarry life award, bat houses, cadomin, NAITNAIT students made history this fall as one of the first-ever Canadian medallists and winners in the Quarry Life Award in national and international categories.

The competition is held every two years by HeidelbergCement to enhance biodiversity at the company’s mining operations around the world. This year it attracted 317 proposals from across North America. The multidisciplinary group from NAIT took second place for efforts to build better houses for bats, conserving the population at a quarry near Cadomin, 300 kilometres west of Edmonton. Internationally, however, they placed first in the category of biodiversity management.

“The students approached this process in a truly NAIT fashion by identifying an issue and coming up with a solution,” says instructor Dave Critchley (Forest Technology ’99, Biological Sciences Technology – Renewable Resources ’98).

Queen of the kitchen

RGE RD chef de cuisine Davina Moraiko (Culinary Arts ’05) took top honours at Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Edmonton, a 10-chef competition that picks up where Gold Medal Plates left off. Moraiko’s win – for a unique take on blood sausage – earned her a spot at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna in February.

Top marks from international students

nait international studentsIn a recent national survey, international students at NAIT ranked the polytechnic among the top schools in Canada for quality of education and overall experience.

“I’m pleased that these results affirm our efforts,” says Alison Lewis, associate vice-president Campus Life.

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