Developing student potential

Developing student potential

Dow Canada’s investment secures pipeline of skilled graduates

Andrew Stevens (Power Engineering Technology ’11) grew up in Fort Saskatchewan, a city at the heart of Alberta’s oil refineries and chemical facilities. Back then, he heard of Dow Canada but admits he didn’t know much about the company. It wasn’t until he attended NAIT that he learned more about Dow’s commitment to safety. So when the company recruited the newly minted Power Engineering Technology grad, he was on board.

With more than 75 years in Canada, Dow Canada produces the chemicals and plastics used to make products in sectors such as personal care, transportation, health care and home construction. Today, the global leader is a major employer of NAIT graduates, who make up about 60% of their employees in Fort Saskatchewan.

“At Dow, our daily safety and success depends greatly on the quality of our workforce."

“At Dow, our daily safety and success depends greatly on the quality of our workforce. The skills, creativity, talent and passion that we have found in NAIT graduates has earned them an integral role in Dow’s Canadian operations, and even its global operations,” said Gonzalo Beltran, Alberta operations site director and Dow Canada vice-president.

In 2014, Dow Canada announced their $1.05-million gift to support student success and campus expansion at NAIT. Dow’s investment includes $800,000 for the Centre for Applied Technology and $250,000 to sponsor Power Engineering – Where it Can Take You, a seminar at the polytechnic to showcase the field of power engineering.

Dow employees mentor NAIT students

Stevens (pictured right) returned to campus to speak to potential Dow employees at the Power Engineering  seminar. Just as Dow employees once took him under their wing, he’s returning the favour.

With 8 years of experience under his belt, Stevens is now a master technical trainer in Dow’s power and utilities plant. He’s grateful for the opportunities awarded to him by a company that invests in the burgeoning talent of its employees – and those coming into the field. Over the years, he too has had a hand in developing the potential by mentoring incoming summer placement students from NAIT.

“It’s a point of pride to run into alumni I’ve mentored and see them grow.”

“It’s a point of pride to run into alumni I’ve mentored and see them grow,” says Stevens. “It’s like I had a part in building their skills. I helped develop that potential.”

One of those alumni, Rafael Briceno, is now the night shift coordinator at Dow and recalls when he first met Stevens as a summer student.

“He encouraged me to ask a lot of questions. It’s a Dow principle and what attracted me to this safe and robust work environment.”

Briceno took Andrews’ advice and followed his example around the plant that summer. That experience led to Dow offering him a job months ahead of when he would graduate in 2015.

“I take pride when I talk to students, because I see myself in them,” says Briceno, who has trained aspiring power engineers over the past 2 summers and also participated in the Power Engineering seminar in 2016.

Beltran believes their investment has strong returns. “As part of a growing and ever-evolving industry, Dow needs a strong pipeline of future grads, which is why our partnership with NAIT has been so instrumental. Hiring local grads helps us building strong, sustainable communities around our manufacturing sites.”

NAIT is proud to celebrate the success of Essential: The NAIT Campaign. Thanks to thousands of donors, we raised more than $100 million for student success, applied research and campus development. In appreciation, NAIT is sharing 100 reasons how donors are having an essential effect on our campus and the community.