SAIT's 2016 Outstanding Young Alumnus
"Meeting the other Alumni Award recipients highlighted the fact that SAIT has quite an extensive community that continues after graduation. It's impressive, the connections the alumni have made and the connections they are building with the community. I really value my time at SAIT. The small class sizes, the relationships with the instructors and the hands-on learning where you do the work means everything you learn in the classroom applies to the real world.
In my career, I do a lot of customer relations. That can be challenging, because I'm trying to relay the same information that I perceive at one level to someone else who might not understand it the same way. It's like translating. That is the toughest aspect, I think: the technical communication. But is also key to what we do.
We have inventors and entrepreneurs coming through the doors with the most amazing ideas and we help design what they have in their heads. We work with them to make a good, marketable product. When the client has a great-looking product that sells, it's the best. It's exciting that they come to us, a family firm, and we can help them succeed. I've had clients hug me, they are so happy with the end product. We are part of their family now, and to see somebody in your family be successful is truly amazing.
Levi Kuta, Manager of Engineering and Design, Alta Injection Molding | Mechanical Design Technology 2012 | Outstanding Young Alumnus 2016
2016 SAIT Outstanding Young Alumnus
For Levi Kuta, Manager of Engineering and Design at Airdrie's Alta Injection Molding, SAIT is more than a school. To him, it's the supportive community that helped shape his career into what it is today.
Kuta "always knew" he wanted to build things for a living. He started off with Lego bricks as a child, and later set his sights on an engineering degree from the University of Calgary. However, he switched gears after one semester in the program and transferred to SAIT to pursue a more hands-on education.
The move was a success as it meshed better with his tactile learning style, and it set him up for future success.
"Without SAIT, my life wouldn't be the same," he says. Since graduating, Kuta has made both a name and a career for himself based on his passion for building, using the latest 3D printing and polymer technology, which he describes as the way of the future with virtually "endless possibilities."
He's also been named in two patents (one for an improved welding handle design, and one for a lightweight plastic collapsible beer and wine keg), and earned an Innovate Calgary TechRev award in 2015.
At Alta Injection Molding, he oversees the design team, meets with clients and provides quotes for new projects. However, he says the best part of his job is knowing his designs help bring people's ideas to life.
"I'm not very creative, myself. I'm just good at taking other people's creativity and making it a reality."
What is your proudest professional moment to date?
"Winning this award. It really means a lot to me because I am so ‘SAIT proud.' This is my greatest professional accomplishment, definitely — which means the bar is now set quite high for me. Nothing else can top this, except maybe if I win the Distinguished Alumni Award in a few years. I think I'm going to shoot for that one next."
How has your SAIT education impacted your career?
"If it wasn't for SAIT, I wouldn't be where I am today. I can honestly, hands-down, say that. I'm proud to say that everything I have in my life and everything I've achieved is all because of SAIT."
What's your advice for beginning students in your field?
"Don't be afraid to ask questions, and take every opportunity given to you. Following that, these instructors who are educating you at SAIT will keep helping you long after you graduate, so don't burn your bridges — keep in touch with your instructors and let them know how you're doing."
Written by Giselle Wedemire (JA '13)
Photo by George Webber