Graduate lucky to be alive; credits NAIT for helping him find a new path

Published on May 03, 2017

In many ways, NAIT helped Chris Biel reinvent himself.

The 39-year-old father of five (his kids are ages five to 13) is lucky to be alive. In September 2013, he fell 15 metres (50 feet) to the ground while cleaning the exterior windows of an Edmonton hotel. Biel, owner of The Clean Shiny Window Company, broke his back and both legs, spending three months in hospital, and many more months learning to walk again. Biel also had to overcome a spinal cord injury and now walks with the assistance of a cane.

“It was difficult to adjust, even to be able to drive again.”

With the help of one of his employees, “I was able to keep the business going but realized I needed something more,” he says. “I needed to learn some new skills, and probably shouldn’t be climbing ladders anymore.”

Following some academic upgrading, Biel enrolled in NAIT’s two-year Computer Engineering Technology program. A self-described “people person,” Biel took advantage of every opportunity at NAIT to network and meet employers – which paid off. He graduates this week, and is already working in his field full time as a programmer/developer.

“Going to NAIT was a really big deal,” he says. “It was my first time out in the real world again, functioning like a human being. NAIT helped me reinvent myself – finding my way to a bigger, fuller, better life.”

NAIT's 2017 Convocation will be held on Friday, May 5 (8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and Saturday, May 6 (8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) at The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 11455 - 87 Ave. More than 8,000 students will graduate this year.

Chris is available for media interviews prior to convocation. He will also cross the stage at the Saturday afternoon ceremony.

About NAIT

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With nearly 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 95 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.

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