News and Events

Always on the edge

Spoiler alert: technology has changed a bit in the years since I first attended college.

March 24, 2014

Written by Mark Keller, director of college advancement
Featured in "On Campus" in the Medicine Hat News

When I enrolled in my first college-level programming course we handed in our assignments on punched cards. At this point, more than a few readers may ask, ‘what the heck is a punched card?’ Suffice to say they were a paper-based method of storing code.

Just a few years later I remember being somewhat annoyed at the school I was then attending because, just at onset of the desktop publishing revolution, my typography class still used dedicated mainframe computers. Assignments focused more on the tedious chore of programming than the creative challenge of design; available technology could have changed that.

The point behind both these examples, and I could offer more, is that technology has this wonderful way of sneaking up on us and changing the rules of the game while we’re not looking. And that has me thinking about Medicine Hat College and some of the close-to-the edge technology in use today.

An obvious example is the 3-D printer that was acquired about this time last year, thanks to the support of government and private partners. Many people are becoming aware of 3-D or additive printing technology, but it might be an area to keep your eye on.

One article I read about additive printing really made me think. The author pointed out that the form and structure of our homes is pretty much based on the strength and shape of a piece of wood. But what if a home were to be constructed of custom made pieces, fabricated on site with emerging technology and materials? That would change design possibilities and jobs too.

Of course there are many applications for business today including prototyping, custom manufacturing, and much more. This is an impactful technology well worth some online, or better yet, hands-on investigation.

There are many other examples of technically enhanced learning on campus.

Way back when I was programming with punched cards, I also had the opportunity to use flight simulators. Common sense applies here; simulators offer the learning needed without the expense and risk of having a student cruising around the skies in a real airplane.

On campus today you’ll find simulators of a different kind. They look like a cross between crash-test dummies and manikins except that they have the capacity to talk, pulse, breath, complain and even give birth. Just like in flight school, health simulation offers the chance to learn in a realistic, but controlled environment.

These examples and others are why your college strives to be close to the edge.

Visit to learn more about your college, contact Mark Keller with your questions at or follow him on Twitter @mark_mhc.

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