River Valley School
David Erickson. I am a 21-year-old Calgarian, born and raised. During my first semester of Grade 12, I started working for a light-gauge steel-framing and -finishing company. Upon graduation, I took a year off to continue working as a steel framer while I decided what post-secondary route I wanted to pursue. I was working on a hotel project in downtown Calgary where I met an architect from a local firm. She showed me around the office and introduced me to some of her colleagues in different departments (contract administration, interior design, etc.). During the tour, someone suggested I consider SAIT’s Architectural Technologies Program at SAIT. I explored the option and am glad I did, as my time here represents two of the most successful years of my life.
River Valley School (RVS) was an individual project I completed during my 4th semester in the Architectural Technologies Program at SAIT.
RVS is a non-profit Montessori/Progressive/Aerosmith stream school located in the Calgary community of Bowness. It currently owns two campuses: River Valley School (grades 1-6) and the Early Learning Campus (ELC), which focuses on pre-school and kindergarten.
River Valley School is located in an old Royal Canadian Legion building off Bowwood Dr NW, immediately after one crosses the Bow River. The ELC building is two blocks North of RVS on a 9.5-acre field between 31st Ave NW and 33rd Ave NW.
My project objective was to design a new structure to house the students and staff of River Valley School. This new structure is to be located on the site housing the ELC building.
To gain an appreciation of what makes River Valley School such a terrific learning environment, I met with the institution’s headmaster, as well as with an architect who represented RVS. I toured the existing campus to get a first-hand feel of what it was like to be a part of the student body and faculty. From there I was given a list of criteria desired of the new design. These included, without being limited to:
- Leaving four acres of green space;
- Designing to achieve good traffic flow (40 parking stalls);
- A total surface area of approximately 40,000 ft²;
- A maximum of two storeys with an elevator;
- Each floor was to include:
- One set of male washrooms
- One set of female washroom
- One unisex washroom
- Two adult washrooms;
- 16 classrooms with plenty of natural lighting;
- Separate spaces dedicated to art, drama, music, a library, French-language instruction, and a gymnasium; and,
- Administrative offices.
Prototype Design for an Airlock System on Mars
Quang (Henry) Nguyen. SAIT provided me with an environment that best suited my learning process. Its small classes allowed me to build strong relationships with my colleagues and instructors, which in turn helped with my studies. Another aspect that SAIT offered was the knowledge of real-life experience. This gave me a wider understanding and perspective of what industry would be like should I one day work as a technologist.
I moved to Calgary from my native Vietnam when I was a year old, and have lived here most of my life. When I was growing up, technology was booming, feeding an innate interest in computer hardware and software that became a passion as I was introduced to a diverse range of technologies.
I enjoy going out, traveling and exposing myself to new experiences, since they can only help me grow as an individual. At home I tend to spend a lot of time on my computer, either playing video games and or talking to my friends.
Christopher Duff. After thirteen years of working as a cook and labourer out of high school, I decided to take the necessary steps to begin a new career. I chose SAIT Polytechnic because of its stellar reputation and wide array of courses. I had studied drafting in high school and loved it, leading naturally to my opting for the Engineering Design & Drafting Technology Program. My hobbies include camping, cooking, travel, archery, blade-smithing, and hiking with my dog.
Andrew Liu. I emigrated to Canada from China when I was 10, and hold a Bachelor’s Degree of Arts and Design from the University of Alberta. One of the reasons I chose SAIT’s EDDT Program is the way the faculty designs its courses based on industry requirements and input. It provided me a better understanding of the process of taking a design from concept to its final, physical form. Whenever I am not busy with school, I enjoy doing graphic and product design, such as logos, furniture, or footwear. I also like to participate in various activities such as basketball, running, and kayaking, and I am considering taking up photography.
Darrel Turnbull. Growing up I always had a passion for learning about what makes things tick. After having taken apart and reassembled everything I could get my hands on, I began to wonder how I could start making things myself. Eventually I found my way to the SAIT EDDT Program, which gave me the tools and confidence to begin bringing my ideas to life. Now, with a solid foundation in developing industry-standard drawing sets and recreating those same designs in 3D, I am excited to see where I could go next! When I need a break from my computer screen, I can usually be found either fishing the Bow River or taking my bike out the mountains to get away from the city—and I hope one day to indulge both these hobbies using equipment I designed myself!
Our project objective was to design a prototype airlock system to be used in extreme environments such as Mars. Our requirements included that the airlock be strong and durable, lightweight and able to expand and collapse for shipping and assembly. To save on space, the unit would be shipped in its compact form and expanded to full length during assembly, then attached to a pre-existing structure. To save weight while retaining strength and structural integrity, for rigid body parts, we chose lightweight materials, such as (2014-T6) Aluminum and Vectra Liquid Crystal Polymer. For the collapsible sections, we opted for a weave of Kevlar to allow for the required movement and compaction of the unit. These materials were simulated and designed to meet the safety factors as required by NASA.
Trevor Wall. I was born in Ontario, where, as kids, my brother and I liked to create LEGO versions of the machines we had seen on the TV show Junkyard Wars, competing to see who’s was better. I was also fascinated with mechanical systems, when I was eight, I made a functioning hand out of cardboard, string, and straws. To this day, I still enjoy working on such projects always have something on the go. For example, right now I am designing and building an arcade cabinet.
I chose SAIT as it seemed to offer the best career options given my financial constraints at the time. It turned out to be a perfect choice, providing experience with manufacturing as well as engineering, two sides of the coin I wanted. The program has allowed me to acquire hands-on skills in a range of areas, affording me the opportunity to develop a range of skills, including allowing me actually to create what I designed. My plans now are to become a C.E.T. through ASET, to continue to further my career and my knowledge, and possibly to pursue a mechanical engineering degree.
Nathan Burnette. From a young age I enjoyed taking apart my toys to see what made them work, and as I grew older, I started wrenching on my vehicles, gaining a love for machines and all things that move. I always wanted to get my hands dirty and dig into any project, which led to my spending years working in the oil and gas industry as a wireline operator. SAIT’s MET Program was appealing because it blends hands-on experience with theoretical learning. While completing my diploma at SAIT I discovered a new passion for higher education and applied to Lakehead University’s bridging program to complete engineering degree.
Vars Bacler. I have had a hand in engineering one way or another since I was about five-years-old growing up in Winnipeg. From dismantling my dad’s VCR to building and flying remote-control airplanes, to restoring and modifying muscle cars, I have always had a passion for drawing and aesthetic design. I feel that I am now prepared to apply those interests to a professional field. There is no better feeling than seeing something that started as a rough pencil sketch evolve into a tangible solution. I chose SAIT to take advantage of its hands-on approach to teaching. All the hard work has paid off and the MET Program has provided me a gateway into a career in mechanical engineering.
James Hatch. I am from Vancouver and was willing to relocate for my education, choosing SAIT because the folks there were really good about keeping me current on my application status, notifying me of anything I was missing. They seemed just as excited to welcome me to the school as I was to attend. This made a bid difference because, as a mature student, I was nervous about re-entering school after such a long hiatus. I love to build things and work on my car, and have always been interested in customizing and performance parts. I chose the MET Program specifically because it tied in with my passions, which seemed to offer a more secure future for my children and me.
Brodie Kanwal. Originally from Calgary, I now live in Okotoks and chose SAIT over other schools because, in addition to being accessible from home, it offered the opportunity learn and gain skills quickly through hands-on training. I enjoyed the challenge of completing assignments whose problems required solutions based on creative thinking. My hobbies include motocross, hiking, snowboarding, and pretty much anything outdoors. I also like to watch and learn about mechanical things such as how a jet turbine works or how to repair a dirt bike. Then I try to apply that knowledge to make or repair something of my own design, all of which ties in to why I wanted to study mechanical engineering technology.
The goal of our capstone project was simply to create body panels for SAIT’s Baja Buggy. Though this is simple in theory, the body panels must adhere to the criteria and constraints set by the SAE Baja Regulations.
Previous years’ body panels were made from hand-cut aluminum sheets. Though this was sufficient for competition, our team felt that it did not represent that calibre of design and engineering that typifies SAIT students. We wanted to create body panels that were innovative and aesthetic such that we, and everyone at SAIT, could be proud of the final product.
From the outset, creating highly sustainable body panels was a priority. To achieve this goal, we extensively researched several materials, comparing their relative GWP, LCA, and mechanical properties. We eventually opted for a composite called BioMid, whose co-inventor agreed to co-sponsor our capstone project, supplying materials, research, and expertise.
Instead of just designing the body panels and having them fabricated by a third party, we decided to do all of the fabricating ourselves. This allowed the entire team to gain hands-on skills with designing and fabrication. Through this process, and its many failures, we learned first-hand about the various materials’ design constraints. This experience allowed us to land on a final design that employs a textbook example of DFMA. We created one symmetrical panel design that can be used on either the left or right side of the buggy simply by cutting it to fit accordingly.
In order to complete our project to the calibre we set ourselves, we first applied for, and received, Innovative Student Project Funding (ISPF) from SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS).
We started by playing around with composite materials to practice the process of manufacturing composite parts. After successfully making small objects out of composite materials, such as a carbon-Kevlar bowl that is currently being used to hold keys, we looked at different ways to manufacture the plug.
Our first attempt at creating a plug failed spectacularly. The prototype’s CAD model was digitally cut into segments and printed at 1:1 scale. These plans were glued to foam core that was then cut and assembled into a grid that slotted together and was filled with expanding foam whose unpredictability resulted in an unusable product.
The failure of the first prototype taught us what to avoid as well as what worked. The process for the second prototype was similar to that of the first. Instead of using foam board we cut the plans onto ¾” MDF, and instead of using a grid, we stacked the pieces. The stacked sections were glued and coated with body filler that was sanded to a near-mirror finish. Fibreglass was then hand laid to create a prototype panel. This process yielded a much better result than the first prototype, but was too time-consuming. The design was also too sharp in some areas, resulting in delamination of the composite, a factor we considered in our last prototype.
The final design was vertically symmetrical, which allowed a single part to be cut into either a left- or right-side panel. This design choice was a result of several factors including saving cost and time by not having to create multiple molds. The same process was used to manufacture the plug, but using ¼” MDF. The final BioMid panels were laid and vacuum-bagged on this plug.