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[April Fools!] A warmer future is coming: The SAIT Dome Project
After plans for the SAIT Dome Project were announced on the morning of Tuesday, April 1, SAIT received plenty of attention.
Global News declared the SAIT prank among Calgary's best, and ran a story rounding up Calgary's top April Fool's gags on the evening news. The SAIT Dome Project also made headlines on CBC, CTV and the Huffington Post.
The SAIT Dome Project — false as it was — celebrated the coming of April and a temporary farewell to winter.
Below is the original story.
SAIT says goodbye to bitter winters with plans to build a protective dome over campus.
Plans to build a weather-correcting dome over all 96-acres of the SAIT main campus were announced today — crews will break ground on the project this May.
After the dome is completed, the temperature on the SAIT campus will never drop below 15 C or climb above 26 C.
The stable climate will be thanks to recent SAIT innovations made in mechanically-altered air circulatory systems, high-performing solar reflective glazing systems, radiant-heat capture and storage systems, geothermal ground source heating and cooling systems and nanotechnologies.
Boris Dragicevic, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management and Campus Expansion, says for all the project’s complexities, it’s actually very simple.
“The advances we made during project planning rely heavily on the fundamental truths of science as they relate to thermodynamics, hydrometeorology, edaphology and paleoclimatology,” says Dragicevic, who promises a finished dome by May 2016 — just in time for SAIT’s centennial.
Doing it for the students
The dome project is a solution for the severe weather conditions in Calgary, which can impact student morale and ultimately, their academic performance.
Tegan Cochrane, President of the SAIT Student’s Association (SAITSA), says maintaining a comfortable climate on campus will help to keep students onsite and happy.
“A present student body is an engaged student body,” says Cochrane. “Warmer year-round conditions will keep students here playing Frisbee, Hackey Sack and beach volleyball. I think we’ll see an increased average GPA for the institution.”
A recent student and employee poll determined the optimal temperature for SAIT’s soon-to-be sanctuary, and the response was surprising.
“We thought most people would want constantly high temperatures, but they actually want moderate seasonal variation,” says Cochrane.
The dome will generate pleasant weather, allowing for spring, summer and fall fashions to be worn comfortably throughout the year.
Even on a frigid Calgary day, the SAIT Dome Project will allow staff and students to enjoy plenty of sun on their skin. Those spending most winter days on campus could absorb as much as 70 per cent more vitamin D than the average Calgarian.
Not your parent's Epcot® Centre
It’s going to be all hands on deck once construction begins. Instructors, researchers and students from the Schools of Construction, Manufacturing and Automation and Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) will be heavily involved in making the dome a reality.
“The dome will have all the strength of an arch plus the durability of a triangle’s fixed angles,” says Dragicevic. “This dome will last forever.”
Oversized 3D printers will be installed in the SAIT Homelab, allowing for easy transport of triangular slabs of plasteel which will be up to 10 metres across. SAIT apprentices and workers from industry will erect the 150 metre-tall dome in just less than two years.
The SAIT Dome Project will not rehash the doming craze of the late ’60s that saw the construction of many geodesic structures, such as the American Pavillion at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal.
“This is something new and revolutionary. We are going to have a self-contained ecosystem under the Dome,” says Dragicevic. “Our power use is going to drop dramatically and our students are going to enjoy endless warmth and greenery all year long. This is not your parent’s Epcot Centre!”
The project plans — and much of the project funding — were born from an industry partnership SAIT formed with Winter Iris Ltd., an Arctic exploration company.
“We came to SAIT because we knew they could deliver fast and accurate results,” says Winter Iris President Paula Shora.
Winter Iris came to SAIT’s award-winning ARIS two years ago with hopes to find a 3D printing method for fabricating the revolutionary composite plastic steel, or more simply, Plasteel©. The unique material mimics the molecular structure of seashells, creating a composite plastic stronger than steel, but lighter and completely transparent.
When ARIS successfully created Plasteel© in their fabrication labs, Winter Iris immediately proposed funding for a prototype dome over SAIT.
“Once we build a dome this size in a more hospitable environment, the process will be simplified and we’ll be able to replicate it efficiently in the north” says Shora. “We get a high-profile prototype, SAIT gets eternal summer — this is a win-win arrangement.”