Redesigned awards honour Alberta economic drivers

The ASTech Awards have a new twist in 2018!  In keeping with the spirit of inspiring innovation, the Award program was redesigned to better reflect the work and accomplishments that drive the economy in Alberta and across Canada.

Two awards were reconfigured and one new award was added to the lineup.

  • – The Science award has become Outstanding Achievement in Science and Engineering to reflect the importance of engineering activities in our daily lives.
  • – The Oil Sands Research Award has become the Outstanding Achievement in Energy and Environmental Innovation Award sponsored by Syncrude Canada Ltd.  to capture the breadth and depth of achievement in the energy industry.
  • – The Health Innovation Award has been added to honour leadership in the health and medical fields.

In total, 10 awards will be presented in October, representing outstanding achievement in science and technology across the innovation spectrum.

Nominations now open for 2018 ASTech Awards

Alberta’s innovation awards, the ASTech Awards, are now accepting nominations in 10 categories.  Awards will be announced October 26, 2018 in Edmonton.

By becoming an ASTech Award Winner, you and your organization will join the ranks of over 500 high achievers in the science and technology innovation ecosystem recognized for their leadership in Alberta since 1989.

The benefits of winning an ASTech award are significant:

  • Peer and sector recognition and visibility to a wider audience;
  • A morale boost for employees, investors, business partners and other stakeholders who are recognized for outstanding achievement;
  • Credibility enhancement that helps with financing, customer relationships and top talent recruitment;
  • Profile through ASTech communications channels, the media and the Alumni Speaker’s Bureau; and
  • Five sponsored awards also include a cash prize of $10,000.

Nominations for the 2018 ASTech Awards close May 31st.  Nominations are subject to third-party adjudication by a panel of industry experts who select Winners and Finalists that exceed the strict criteria for each award.

Learn more about the awards here. To submit a nomination, click here.

ASN’s remarkable impact of ‘Scientists and Engineers-in-the-Classroom’

Seeing eyes light up as eager Grade 3 students learn about material properties and engineering principles is what it’s all about for the Alberta Science Network’s Scientists and Engineers-in-the-Classroom program. John Whitbread, P. Eng, an electrical engineer at General Dynamics, made engineering fun and practical recently during a presentation to the young students at Calgary’s West Springs School. Alberta Science Network (ASN) was awarded the 2016 ASTech Excellence in Science and Technology Public Awareness Award.

From teaching the basics of the material properties of common building materials to testing the strongest shapes for a paper structure, Whitbread guided the class from what they knew to what they could do with their new knowledge.

“I always try to include a project that demands teamwork and creates some tension,” said Whitbread, “especially the potential of failure. As we know, failure is the greatest teacher and it creates opportunities to teach, especially on an individual level.”

Given the task to support a book 12-inches off the table using only paper and tape, the students jumped at the opportunity to use fundamental engineering principles of design and testing to create structures out of the flimsy paper. Just as in everyday engineering, sometimes through testing the designs needed to be changed.

As the students constructed their paper structures to support the weight of a textbook, a few students realized what they had planned on paper wasn’t going to work in practice. Despite the obstacles, the students were undeterred. From the paper that crumpled, new sturdier cylinder supports were formed.

Whitbread explained, “One of the biggest impacts I see is a change in willingness of students to try and a certain comfort with failing while the teachers learn to allow the students to fail gracefully.”

The key, for Whitbread, is to engage the students with enthusiasm, know when to move from discussion to the fun of building, and let the students and teacher support the guided presentation.

“Most importantly, bring the topic down to their level,” Whitbread added.

Whitbread said the most rewarding moment as a volunteer comes when he sees a student really enjoying the experience. Through the different ASN programs, over 65 000 students per year participated in hands-on learning with experts across the province.

“More than any organization I’ve worked with, ASN provides both the guidance and the freedom to create opportunities for those moments to happen. When a student turns to me and says, ‘I love this!’ or ‘this is the best day of school ever!’, I know I’m participating in something very worthwhile,” said Whitbread.

For the teachers, it is invaluable to have an expert from the field enter the classroom and demonstrate the real-world application of the lessons they teach. The goal of the ASN program is to make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) both hands-on and expert driven.

The teachers said the expertise an engineer brings to the classroom provides the opportunity for engaging and authentic learning for both the teachers and the students, who are filled with questions and eager to further explore the concepts.

Thanks to the work of professional volunteers like Whitbread, ASN is helping inspire young minds to engage in STEM learning and appreciate careers in STEM.

Humans of Alberta Innovation: Dr. Mayank Goyal

Take a look at the people behind the research, product, company or groundbreaking discovery. The ASTech Foundation’s Humans of Alberta Innovation campaign shows a new side to Alberta’s fascinating innovation community — the human one.

Dr. Mayank Goyal won the 2016 Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology Award for improving the outcome of stroke patients. His latest innovations, the multiphase computed tomography angiogram (mCTA) and the Brisk Recanalization Ischemic Stroke Kit (BRISK), are vastly improving stroke treatment.

I was always a science and technology kid

Innovation does not happen overnight. Over the last 10 to 12 years, I have focused my life on producing the research into how the brain vessels work, and then how to optimize diagnoses, workflow, procedures and how to open the vessel fast.

We work to improve patient outcomes. One of the big limitations was the imaging. You do a CT scan to figure out if the patient is having a stroke and to find the blockage. It was taking too long. I was struggling to come up with an idea to make the imaging procedure faster, and make it easier for residents and fellows in training to diagnose things faster. That’s when I came up with the multi-phase CTA. It was implemented in some of the largest trials around the world and has been used in at least 50 centres. The old method would sometimes take upwards of 20 to 40 minutes to diagnose a stroke. At our facility, we can get the imaging done and have a diagnosis in about five minutes. It makes it very easy to make a decision and move on to the next step.

Our team is focused on making stroke care better around the world. Recently I was in Australia and I went to eight different centres to help them optimize their stroke care. Last week I was in India. That ability to influence change around the world through research and innovation is a very satisfying part of my life.

I was always a science and technology kid. To come up with relevant and useful ideas, it took years and years of experience and understanding of the subject, identifying a problem, and coming up with a solution. I tell my students, “if you want to do it the easy stuff and come up with the structure of an atom, you needed to be born 200 years ago. All the easy stuff has been done.” We are left with the not-so-easy stuff.

When I was in medical school, I was most interested in the brain. I felt like it was the last frontier, in which we have the least amount of understanding. I was inspired by my peers, who shared the same passion. We have a super strong group on the stroke team, and I’m proud to be part of it. We all push each other, and all perform at a very high level. Building the right team and surrounding yourself with intelligent people who are passionate about the same things is a really important part of success.