New amenities designed to better serve the NAIT community
This fall marks the first time some members of the NAIT community have come back to Main Campus since the pandemic initially affected campus operations in March 2020. It will also see the largest presence of students and staff on campus since then.
While there was relatively limited activity on campus over the last two-and-a-half years, NAIT continued to evolve. Several new projects were completed to better serve the needs of students, staff and visitors. Here are some of the exciting new things on Main Campus this fall.
A new gazebo designed for inclusion
In January 2021, Facilities Management and Development met with staff of the Nîsôhkamâtotân Centre, the polytechnic’s gathering place for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, to discuss how the design of a new gazebo that was being planned could be more inclusive.
“I thought it was a first step in the right direction when they asked us to have input to designing the gazebo,” says Derek Thunder, manager of Nîsôhkamâtotân programs and services.
It was in the spirit of the broader goal of reconciliation, added Thunder. "It doesn’t necessarily mean we decide everything, but we can guide the institution in the right direction in regards to having multiple voices being heard.”
Because of the octagonal design of the gazebo, located in one of the original Main Campus courtyards, the team decided to incorporate the seven grandfather teachings into the structure: Respect, Wisdom, Bravery, Love, Truth, Humility, Honesty.
Staff from the Carpenter program laser-cut the teachings into wooden panels that were installed inside the gazebo, which is open to all visitors.
Washrooms for everyone
“Washrooms have been labelled by gender for some time,” says Tim Ira, diversity and inclusion specialist. “However, these binary gender labels of man and woman don’t reflect the diversity of lived realities of many of our students and colleagues.”
To help change that, NAIT is converting washrooms on Main Campus into gender-inclusive washrooms, designed to be used by anyone, yet still afford a sense of privacy, comfort and safety. “Gender-inclusive washrooms are spaces for everyone,” says Ira.
The first are in the basement of H-wing, and the main floor of J-wing, at the south end of the original part of Main Campus. They’re expected to be completed at the end of September and November, respectively. Many washrooms on campus will remain gendered.
HyFlex classrooms offer flexibility in learning options and technology
With the adoption of new technology, six NAIT classrooms will allow students to participate remotely in courses delivered in person on campus.
HyFlex (short for Hybrid-Flexible) classrooms go beyond a conventional online experience.
“Online learning is simply learning through your computer,” says Elise Street, educational technology specialist. “HyFlex is designed so that students can feel that no matter where they’re participating from, they are part of the classroom. Students participating online should hear and see everything students in the classroom hear and see.”
Six classrooms have been set up across NAIT Main Campus as HyFlex. The Cybersecurity and Construction Engineering Technology programs using the technology regularly.
Studying as exercise
NAIT has installed active study spaces at several locations across campus featuring equipment intended for low-intensity exercise. Led by NAIT’s Well-being team, this new initiative helps keep students moving even when they’re studying by using low-intensity exercise equipment, such as under-desk exercise bikes.
Initially funded through the Student Enhancement Fund, the effort was piloted in January 2022 in a study lounge in the Feltham Centre. From there, the Well-being team worked with areas such as the International and Intercultural Community Centre, the Nîsôhkamâtotân Centre, NAIT Students’ Association and Library Services to find other locations for more equipment.
“So far, feedback has been very positive,” says Carole Holt, Well-being manager.
New wellness spaces in the Feltham Centre
A new kind of study space, with a strong focus on well-being, has emerged in the Feltham Centre.
The spaces feature privacy screens, comfortable chairs and couches, and greenery. Students will also have access to yoga mats and blocks, and guides to stretching and movements to help energize or calm the body. QR codes will be posted that link to self-guided meditations or breathing techniques.
“These spaces are mostly meant to provide options for the different types of breaks students may need in the moment to align with their preferred method of self-care,” says Rosie Colangelo, mental health coordinator.