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The character of a community is revealed by the actions of its members. This past year highlighted the commitment, tenacity, ingenuity and caring of the staff and faculty of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) as we faced a year unlike any other. I am proud and grateful for the way the SAIT community navigated changes, adapted and responded to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

SAIT’s strength is how we respond to meet the moment. Since welcoming our first students in 1916, SAIT has produced 250,000 graduates. The institution has served as a hospital, a wireless training school and a refuge for families fleeing floods and fires. When COVID-19 cases began appearing in Calgary in March 2020, SAIT shut down on-campus operations and within days moved classes online and more than 2,000 employees began working from home.

In the midst of all that, SAIT launched its new strategic plan New World. New Thinking, which is more relevant than ever. Like we have done throughout history, SAIT will lead change and support the workforce of tomorrow.   

This report reflects our work over the past year and is a look at where we’re heading — into a new world, with new thinking.

Dr. David G. Ross
President and CEO



When the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) arrived, the SAIT community of students, employees and alumni pulled together to help our province and country deal with strains on the healthcare system, supplies and community supports, proving we’re better together.

Close up of Annalise Woertman

SAIT student juggles multiple jobs on the COVID-19 front line

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Classroom with medical equipment

Ready to respond

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3D printed masks stacked

Utilizing 3D Printers to combat COVID-19

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During a year of unprecedented change, we committed to providing our students with our best — building out online learning and new processes quickly, troubleshooting and keeping our students’ needs front and center so they could continue their programs. Our employees also experienced a huge shift in their day-to-day, with a sudden move to working remotely. We continue to focus on our employees’ well-being with supports and mental health tools.

Proudly, we’ve also developed and implemented an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to build a supportive community for all students and employees as well as an Indigenous Learner Success Strategy in the spirit of reconciliation.

overhead shot of students working together at a table

A difficult situation transformed

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Collage of 9 different people

The roadmap to a more inclusive campus

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Virtual classroom with avatars

Constructing the future

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Our Centre for Applied Education Innovation developed 20 new programs, including two in the vision care sciences and a degree in Hospitality and Tourism. We celebrated a number of firsts, welcoming the first intake into our Integrated Water Management program and Water and Wastewater Treatment Operations program, launching our Open Studies program in the winter of 2020 and our inaugural spring semester a few months later.

Our goal for the next five years and beyond is to ensure SAIT students have the digital literacy to succeed in a future driven by people, powered by technology. In September 2020, we launched our School for Advanced Digital Technology as a tech-driven training hub to give students the digital skills they need.


Thanks to the most generous gift in our institution's history, SAIT is well-positioned to meet industry needs. Businessman and philanthropist David Bissett's gift of $30 million supported the opening of our new School for Advanced Digital Technology, which will equip students with the skills to thrive in a digital future.  

School for Advanced Digital Technology

image of Odefellows building in downtown Calgary, AB with "The future starts now" over top

School for Advanced Digital Technology to boost Calgary's tech-talent pipeline

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Female using virtual reality to learn in the classroom

Virtual reality brings water management training to life

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Amazon Alexa in between a computer and keyboard

Alexa, meet SAIT: How a business instructor is using AI in the classroom

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The world moved into a new way of working, one that will have a lasting impact. We’re helping students flourish in their future careers by developing programming that builds a growth mindset, leadership, adaptability, resilience and inquiry.

We’re breaking down boundaries between programs and helping our students gain the skills they need to thrive in a changing workplace. We launched our new Centre for Continuing Education and Professional Studies to help learners grow and evolve by building their skillsets with more flexible learning pathways.


Our newly established Centre demonstrates the passion and commitment we have for being a global leader in applied education. We’re keenly aware of the ongoing demand for lifelong, action-based learning, required for today’s rapidly evolving digital economy.

Now is the time to invest in yourself. Your success defines our future.


picture of students doing field work along bank of river

Shifting career gears: From engineering to water management

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cityscape of Calgary Alberta along the river

Three reasons to upskill locally, at SAIT

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Alex Marin in a toque and high vis gear posing in front of a C-Train in workshop

500,000 reasons to upskill 

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Global partnerships expand our reach and reputation, while a global campus provides all students with the opportunities for cross-cultural awareness they need to be successful. International enrolment brings talent, ideas and substantial economic, academic and social value to our SAIT community.

We were ranked as one of Canada’s top research colleges in December 2020 and our work has been sought after internationally — including Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) research and testing in partnership with the Centre for Innovation and Research in Unmanned Systems and NASA.

A TOP 50

In 2020, SAIT’s School of Hospitality and Tourism was recognized yet again by CEOWorld Magazine and QS World University Rankings. SAIT ranked 21st best hospitality and management school in the world and 29th best hospitality and leisure management school in the world respectively — up six spots from both lists in 2019.


In March 2021, SAIT was named Canada's top hospitality and top culinary school.

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Profile picture of Jim Gibson, Chief Catalyst of School for Advanced Digital Technology

Life in — and after — quarantine

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Making SAIT home: From Iran to Calgary for Administrative Information Management

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research lab

SAIT ranked as one of Canada's top research colleges

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SAIT’s role in the economies of Calgary and southern Alberta goes beyond producing work-ready graduates – it includes a focus on igniting industry innovation. In so many ways, this past year has deepened SAIT’s sense of responsibility to the community as we work together to find a path through the economic downturn and global pandemic.

Gifts such as David Bissett’s and those of our other generous corporate partners, including ATCO Group, Cenovus Energy, CN, Spartan Controls, RGO, Shaw Communications, TC Energy and Hoya Vision Care, are a vote of confidence in Calgary’s future and in SAIT’s key role and responsibility in forging it.


David Bissett’s extraordinary contribution, his largest gift ever, helped establish SAIT’s School for Advanced Digital Technology. The school will set a new course for the future positioning of SAIT as a leader in digital transformation and education, helping to fill the technology talent gap in Alberta, which expects to see 77,500 technology jobs by 2023 – more than double the 35,000 total predicted for this year.

Bissett, a Member of the Order of Canada, says he chose SAIT for the gift because we have the flexibility to respond to the changing needs of industry.

Drone out in the countryside

Researchers investigate drone delivery of medical supplies to remote communities during pandemic

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equipment placed on table top in a lab

New funding expands applied research programs at SAIT

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closeup of 1s and 0s on a computer monitor

Doubling down on data

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Mandy Rennehan, CEO, Freshco
Mark Little, CEO, Suncor


Deanna Burgart, Chemical Engineering Technology ‘00, President and COO, Indigenous Engineering Inclusion Inc.

Trevor Lamb, Petroleum Engineering Technology ‘97, Vice President Operations (retired), Three Streams Engineering Ltd.


Gursh Bal, Electrician ‘16, Director of Business Development, Virtuoso Energy

Kai Fahrion, Electrician ‘15, Director of Operations, Virtuoso Energy

On the world stage, Taylor Desjardins represented Canada at the biennial WorldSkills competition in Kazan, Russia in August 2019, earning a Medallion of Excellence for his work. A student from our Cabinetmaker program, Desjardins competed against others from around the world in the five-day event.

2019/20 CISCO e-Learning Chair Heramb Vadalkar, School of Business, introduced blended learning into two business finance courses linked to external licensing exams and explored the development of a new blended course for financial services covering the impact of information technology, blockchain, artificial intelligence and data analysis on financial services.

Jacqueline Lyndon, School of Business, transitioned a course delivered in the Bachelor of Business Administration and Business Administration programs to an E2 learning hybrid model, which represents the fusion between the best of traditional classroom strategies and online learning technologies in order to increase learning accountability, provide greater flexibility for students and achieve a broader range of learner outcomes. 

William Hu, School of Information and Communications Technologies, developed a cost-effective, software-defined networking virtual lab, giving students the opportunity to acquire up-to-date hands-on skills with software-defined networking. This has the potential to benefit students in several programs.

Rosalyn Ediger, SAIT Outstanding Young Alumna and culinary faculty member was awarded the Cadmus Trades Teaching Chair. Her work focused on the development of a specialized course in culinary diplomacy and food anthropology, the first of its kind in North America and, possibly, the world. Culinary diplomacy is an emerging discipline that will help SAIT attract a more diverse student body, provide international career opportunities for our students and graduates, strengthen SAIT’s relationship with the federal government and with Canadian embassies and high commissions around the world, and provide innovative ways for SAIT to use food as a means to teach and to build cultural bridges.

SAIT hosted the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs international competition and the Canadian National Jeunes Chefs competition in September 2019. SAIT alumnus, Nolan Moskaluk (Professional Cooking '15 and Baking Pastry Arts '17), turned up the heat as he competed in the national black box competition and took home second place.

The SAIT Concrete Toboggan team competed in the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race in February 2020. It’s an annual engineering competition that attracts more than 450 students from more than 20 post-secondary institutions.

LINK’s Analogue Issue (Spring 2019) won bronze in the Visual Design: Multi-Page Print Design category of the 2020 Best of CASE VIII competition. LINK was also a finalist in two categories of the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association Awards.

As part of SAIT’s International Women’s Day celebrations in March 2020, several SAIT community members were recognized for their work in lifting up and supporting women.

Dr. Vita Martez, a researcher with SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) and NSERC Industrial Research Chair, received an Achievement Award in recognition of her achievements in chemical technology and environmental engineering. Martez leads SAIT’s Centre for Energy Research in Clean Unconventional Technology Solutions. She holds two industry patents, directing all of the royalties to empowering the next generation of learners. She was part of The Women of ARIS, a group of 11 women researchers and support staff at SAIT who provided mentorship to foster female involvement in STEAM and the trades.

Carina Butterworth, Geomatics Engineering Technologist instructor, was awarded the Catalyst Award for her efforts in a non-traditional industry. Carina volunteers with the Capstone Collaboration Committee and as the Education Director at a free, open online geomatics program called Eclipse College. She also welcomes international students into her home to help them learn English.

One of SAIT’s own took home the coveted distinction of being among Avenue Magazine’s first Made in Alberta award winners. Michelle Atkinson, New Media Production and Design ‘03, is the owner of Jewelnotes Glassworks and was the winner in the Furnishing and Home Décor category.

SAIT hosted the Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition in early March 2020. It brings some of the best business students in the province together to create and compete. Faced with real-world business problems from a local industry partner, #TeamSAIT drew on their 21st-century skills — those vital soft skills including collaboration and adaptability — to earn fourth place at the competition.

Tracey Chala was awarded the ECO Canada Impact Award for Environmental Professionals for her work as a principal researcher with SAIT's Green Building Technologies team.

James Kohlen, one of our technical support staff supporting our Machinist and Industrial Mechanic programs, won the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Apprentice of the Year Award.

SAIT was ranked as one of Alberta’s Top Employers for the 11th time. The list, by Mediacorp Canada Inc., focuses on a broad list of criteria including a commitment to lifelong learning, training and skills development, financial benefits and compensation.

You can read a full list of honourees and awards in SAIT’s 2019/20 Annual Report.

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