#SAITFaces: Dan Stephenson
"As a kid, I was fascinated by electronics and computers. I started my own freelance web design business at age 11."
From there, Dan Stephenson went on to graduate from New Media Production and Design #HereAtSAIT. Fast forward, and he currently teaches web development in that same program.
This past year, his students nominated Dan for a Saitsa Instructor Excellence Award. The winning nomination recognized, among other things, his passion for his subject and his commitment to students both inside and outside the classroom.
“Two things have always been in my blood: teaching and technology. Both of my parents were teachers and I’ve always had a passion for sharing my knowledge.
“Our house was one of the first 100 homes on the Internet in Calgary, which gave me early exposure to the world wide web — and I was hooked! I knew this technology would be a huge part of our society and I wanted to be part of it.”
Dan was invited to teach a few evening courses at SAIT shortly after graduation. Six years later, he became a full-time instructor, teaching alongside many of the same faculty who taught him.
Now, Dan encourages his students to use their time in school to fail fast, fail often and learn from their failures.
“I tell my students, in our industry, you’ll be hired based on your portfolio, not your grades. You’ve come to SAIT to learn. Use this time to try new things, push yourself further and find your own unique style that sets you apart. This is a safe place to do that.”
He’s also big on asking questions.
“The smartest person in the room is the one who asks questions — that’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned both working in industry and as an instructor.”
When it comes to the future of digital media, Dan is excited about the potential of more computing power at our fingertips.
“The web is becoming richer with video, 3D, interactivity and all sorts of new multimedia aspects we have never had before. This will help us create user experiences we couldn’t have created even seven years ago.”
To create those experiences, he says what the industry needs most is problem solvers.
“Every website is unique, every client has very different needs. Professionals in this industry need to be able to effectively find creative solutions to whatever problems come their way.
“The better you are as a problem solver the more valuable you’ll be in any job you want to have after graduation.”
👏 Dan Stephenson is an award-winning instructor chosen by students at SAIT. Are you creative, good at solving problems and interested in technology? Explore the digital media programs available through SAIT’s School for Advanced Digital Technology.
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