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Building on the future with experience gained at SAIT

March 05, 2019

SAIT President and CEO David Ross observes a CNC machine in action.

SAIT President and CEO David Ross observes a CNC machine in action.

To Anjali Patadia, a Grade 12 student in Calgary, building stuff brings joy.

As a young woman about to embark on studies in engineering, the lab at SAIT where she volunteers one afternoon a week is an immersive journey into the real world of fabrication. It's also been a welcoming space where her gender and age haven't been barriers to pursuing her passion.

Last fall, Patadia spoke to a SAIT recruiter at her high school. Learning about the Applied Research and Innovation Services department (ARIS), her interest was sparked. The recruiter put her in touch with Emerson Burns, a Research Associate in ARIS who looks after design, fabrication and testing projects.

Patadia didn't quite know what to expect when she arranged a meeting but is very glad she did.

"I was hoping to get some hands-on experience in design and building," says Patadia, who plans to pursue engineering studies at university in September. "I definitely hadn't imagined what I found at ARIS. They have a really awesome industrial space and technology, and an accepting and open environment."

Part of the team

As she learned more about the projects of Burns and his team, she was eager to jump in as a volunteer.

Burns has been pleased with Patadia's commitment.

"Anjali comes in each Friday — sometimes most of the day if she has the day off school," says Burns. "After showing her around I got her set up on the project she's been working on. She's made it her own and done a ton of research to get it right."

The project — building a vacuum table for a CNC machine — is expanding Patadia's design and building skills, and she couldn't be happier.

"I love building stuff. It's a lot of fun," she explains. "They showed me what needed to be done, gave me the kit of materials and also provided me with a laptop. I watched a bunch of videos and did research to find the best approach."

A glimpse at what's possible

The CNC machine is a cutting tool. Adding a vacuum to the underside suctions the material to the table, ensuring precision with each movement of the blade. Patadia is soon getting the vacuum part of her project underway and looks forward to seeing the final product in action in the lab.

Patadia is glad she pursued the chance to work at SAIT and feels it gives her an edge when she starts her engineering studies in the fall.

"Being at SAIT helped me see design in the real world with professionals doing cool projects. And being with the other members of the team has been great."

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