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(Left to right), Brett Darichuck, General Manager of AIM, Blake Richards, MP, Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, Jeff Litster, Fidenlity Machine and Moul Solutions, Dr. Alex Zahavich, Vice President Corporate Development and Applied Research at SAIT Polytechnic, and Dr. David Ross, SAIT President and CEO.

New innovation centre for manufacturing opens in Airdrie

Calgary, AB — A new leading-edge manufacturing facility officially opened in Airdrie today. The SAIT-AIM Centre for Innovation is part of Alta Innovative Manufacturing's (AIM) new building that will support both entrepreneurs and manufacturing companies to create new products that use composite materials.

The largest custom molder in Western Canada, AIM has been partnering with SAIT Polytechnic since 2010 on various applied research projects, including the fabrication of various prototype ultra-high-frequency cattle tags as part of SAIT's animal-tracking project with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency. AIM has also become an employer to several SAIT graduates from the Mechanical Engineering Technology program.

"The opportunity for SAIT students and faculty to carry out work with industry partners in a facility like this provides our graduates with a strong advantage heading into the workforce," says Dr. David Ross, President and CEO of SAIT Polytechnic.

The SAIT-AIM Centre for Innovation, which houses machining systems, milling, grinding and CNC lathe equipment, as well as injection-molding and rapid-prototype machines, was made possible through an investment of $3.5 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada.

"Our Government is committed to advancing Canada's innovation ecosystem, while creating high-value jobs that contribute to the long-term economic growth of our country," says the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. "Our investment in the SAIT-AIM Centre for Innovation ensures businesses and students have the tools, resources, and knowledge needed to thrive in today's western Canadian manufacturing sector."

The $25-million facility houses various manufacturing machines that will be used not only to develop new and innovative products, but also to replace conventional materials with lighter, stronger, more cost-effective solutions. Composite materials — widely known as reinforced plastics — can be used to produce a variety of products ranging from sporting goods to automobile parts.

"Since our partnership with SAIT and the development of the Centre, we have introduced several companies to composite materials that have improved designs and products in many fields," says Brett Darichuk, General Manager of AIM. "The centre has seen more than 40 innovators in the last year that have started the process of developing and manufacturing products for this global market."

One project involved the design and development of a pipeline protection system that would shield and prevent pipelines from exposure to soil erosion and physical impact damage.

About SAIT Polytechnic

SAIT Polytechnic is one of Canada's most exciting destinations for post-secondary education, offering more than 100 career programs and over 1,000 part-time courses (including online and distance) that position people for success in technology, trades and business. A leader in innovation, SAIT also collaborates with industry on applied research and delivers corporate training worldwide. SAIT has been recognized as being one of Alberta's Top Employers, the Top Research College in Canada and the Best Alberta Workplace for Training and Development.

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