Published on February 22, 2022
Dow Canada was named Distinguished Industry Partner for its commitment to polytechnic education, sustainability and diversity and inclusion
Since it began nearly 40 years ago, the relationship between NAIT and Dow Canada has evolved into a genuine partnership, with each helping the other to reach its goals.
For Dow, those involve developing basic chemicals and plastics used to make a broad range of innovative and technology-based products and solutions for a variety of industries. Finding ways to ensure their operations drive toward sustainability, while also advancing diversity and inclusion, is also a priority for the company.
For NAIT, those goals begin with students, and providing a practical, hands-on education to enable them to transition seamlessly into industry and pursue rewarding careers.
“Our partnership with NAIT has set the foundation for our workforce,” says Don Cameron, site director and vice-president, Dow Canada.
In fact, roughly 60% of employees at the company’s Fort Saskatchewan site are NAIT alumni. That number represents the mutual benefit the two organizations have realized by working together – and it’s telling when it comes to the reasons Dow was named NAIT’s 2021 Distinguished Industry Partner.
Investing in STEM education
Over the years, Dow has made many gifts to NAIT, seeing each as an investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and, by virtue of that, in its own ability to meet the needs of the market.
“It’s really essential to our success in Alberta,” says Don. The company relies on NAIT alumni, including technologists and tradespeople, who “are important to keep our site running.”
To date, Dow has given more than $2 million toward supporting students. Among the most notable of its philanthropic partnerships is a donation of almost $1 million to develop the Feltham Centre, a central hub and learning facility on Main Campus. The same year, it contributed roughly $250,000 to power engineering programming and student outreach events.
Company representatives also share their time and expertise. Dow employees, who are also NAIT alumni, are part of the power engineering, chemical engineering, and instrumentation program advisory committees, where they provide insight about industry needs. As a regular participant in various student engagement activities, Dow staff connect with students across the institute, ensuring they are aware of career opportunities.
What’s more, Dow has hosted more than 120 practicum placements for NAIT students over the last 10 years.
“We truly are heavily dependent on what NAIT brings to the table,” says Don. “It’s an honour working with NAIT.”
Teaming up for sustainability and inclusion
The relationship between Dow and NAIT continues to grow and develop.
More recently in 2020, Dow joined Inter Pipeline in the Plastics Research in Action (PRIA) initiative to study microplastics in the North Saskatchewan river. Dow has been able to support this important work with analytical research capabilities that complement the applied research capabilities at NAIT.
Don knows sustainability will be key to Dow’s continued success. He knows that people will, too, which means ensuring the integrity of the foundation for polytechnic education. In that respect, the past decades will point the way forward.
“Our partnership with NAIT is one we want to keep building on,” he says. “Together, we can set the stage to include a new generation of students who will bring a diversity of perspectives to the workforce, and to the roles they will play in making the world a better place.”