SAIT opens new machining lab
Left to right: Heather Magotieux, SAIT Vice President External Relations; Jim Szautner, Dean, SAIT School of Manufacturing and Automation; Kathy Looman, Foundation Administrator, Gene Haas Foundation; Paul Krainer, President, Thomas Skinner.
SAIT is celebrating the grand opening of the newly renovated Gene Haas Foundation CNC Lab. The specialized metal machining facility located in SAIT's Thomas Riley Building was refurbished and expanded thanks to a $1 million USD gift from the foundation.
The gift allowed SAIT to renovate three spaces in the School of Manufacturing and Automation, creating a new state-of-the-art classroom with 28 CAD/CAM workstations plus two separate labs — one with nine CNC (Computer Numerical Control) mills, and one with nine CNC lathes.
"Before the renovation, we had 20 workstations and 12 CNC machines scattered around different rooms," says Steve Wooldridge, Academic Chair Machinist, Millwright, and Natural Gas Compression Technician. "The gift from the Haas Foundation allowed us to create a first-rate classroom and two dedicated labs that allowed us to add six more CNC machines. Now we can bring a cohort of students into these labs and they can focus on the appropriate equipment for their projects."
Wooldridge says the addition of new CNC machines gives students more opportunities to spend time working on equipment they'll eventually use in industry.
"It's all about more hands-on," says Wooldridge. "That's where the lightbulbs turn on for our students. The technical training and the theoretical portion of it lays the foundation but to get in the labs and actually work with this equipment and to see that theory turn into a product that can be measured, that's where the rubber meets the road."
The experience working in the labs has really paid off for SAIT students who competed in the Provincial Skills Canada competition in Edmonton, May 31 to June 1.
SAIT students scored two golds and a silver in the machining competitions.
Silver winner, Logan Cooper says the lab has been pivotal to his training for the skills competition because it enabled him to gain so much practice time on the machines. He says the generosity of the Haas Foundation means a lot to him and to his fellow students.
"The reason I decided to come to SAIT is because it's known for having such an incredible learning environment," says Cooper. "This lab is amazing."
The Gene Haas Foundation was established in 1999 by Gene Haas, the founder of Haas Automation, a leading manufacturer of CNC machines.