A software developer excited about innovation, Chris Zaal is ushering in a new era for technology as the manager for SAIT’s Centre for Innovative Information Technology Solutions (CIITS) — a department that facilitates industry-based applied-research projects.
A former office worker who started with SAIT’s Commercial Services team, Zaal graduated with a diploma in information technology, majoring in software development, in 2010, at which point SAIT hired him to help with the rollout of the eCard program — a combination identification and payment system used across campus. From there, he moved to the cutting-edge RFID Application Development (RAD) Lab — the predecessor for today’s CIITS — where he and a team worked on software development for inexpensive, single-board computers.
In 2016, Zaal was promoted to project manager, tasked with overseeing software developers, electronics specialists and dev-ops engineers, just as the lab received $2.5 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments and local partners through the Canadian Foundation for Innovation grant.
Today, through CIITS, Zaal and his team help companies take ideas to prototypes and beyond.
With the creation of SAIT’s introduction of its new School for Advanced Digital Technology, CIITS has also been collaborating on curriculum, focusing on virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence learning — all with a focus on hands-on learning.
Through his work, Zaal has represented SAIT at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and participated in a trade mission from Canada in 2019.
When I retire: "I want to run a cat café. Drinking coffee all day and playing with cats – that’s a perfect day."