‘Gateway to a stronger future’: MacEwan University partners with Edmonton International Airport

“The same way the airport is a gateway to the larger world, this agreement will also be a gateway to a stronger future for all of us,” EIA president and CEO Tom Ruth said.

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Edmonton’s Downtown university and international airport have struck a partnership to set a course for student success and uplift the aviation sector.

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At MacEwan University’s city center campus Thursday, president and vice-chancellor Annette Trimbee signed a memorandum of understanding with Tom Ruth, president and CEO of Edmonton International Airport (EIA). The agreement aims to spark economic, educational and research opportunities between the two organizations.

“The same way the airport is a gateway to the larger world, this agreement will also be a gateway to a stronger future for all of us,” Ruth said. “I’m confident we will open doors for students.”

While talks leading up to the signing began in earnest about a year ago, he added, the two organizations are still in the process of exploring exactly how the partnership will crystallize.

Trimbee, however, hinted that there will be “tangible experiences” for students studying aviation and supply chain management, as well as those learning about marketing, art, design and the physical sciences.

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“I also look forward to seeing how we might leverage the EIA’s international engagement initiatives to enhance MacEwan’s international reach — something that we have been doing more and more every year,” she said.

Craig Kuziemsky, MacEwan’s associate vice-president of research, suggested direct flights to Nashville, Tenn., out of EIA could support a new distinguished visiting artist and country music initiative in the university’s music program, for example.

“If you’re going to pursue country music, Nashville is probably the best place in the world,” he said.

He also identified several collaborative opportunities that could emerge through the partnership, including micro-credentials in areas such as aviation management and system analysis.

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“Micro-credentials are a really good way to bring people up to speed on the current trends, current methods, and current approaches to solving complex problems,” he added.

Moreover, EIA’s commitment to environmental sustainability and interest in growing a hydrogen economy opens research opportunities for students learning about the physical sciences, he added, while the airport space itself could serve as an exhibition area for creative displays from the university’s faculty of fine arts and communications.

The university is also considering how the partnership could facilitate work-integrated learning opportunities, Kuziemsky said, where students can apply classroom knowledge to practical problems posed by EIA.

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“If they have a strategic marketing problem, we can take that to our third-year strategic marketing course in the school of business,” I explained. “Rather than having one student giving you one solution, you might have four or five work teams coming up with solutions.”

Ruth said the airport and various sectors surrounding it stand to benefit from knowledge coming out of the university, and in the coming months the signatories will create a joint committee to explore the possibilities of their partnership.

“It’s about creating opportunities for new entrepreneurs and new innovations,” Ruth added, “and it’s about simply learning more about each other, and how we contribute to making life better in this region.”

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