On a trip through Alberta, from Edmonton to Calgary, U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson made it clear he wanted to make a stop in Red Deer, a place he calls his favourite in Canada.
With only months left in his term at the post, the diplomat toured Red Deer College’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing, as well as meeting with members of the Student Association executive committee and members of the college’s ambassador program.
“I wanted to come back, I wanted to see some people and the mayor (Morris Flewwelling) and Hazel (Morris’ wife),” said Jacobson, who first visited Red Deer shortly after his appointment to the posting in 2009.
“I know this is an anniversary celebration for the City of Red Deer, and I know the mayor has announced he is not running and I wanted to pay my respects to him.”
After his time at the college, he headed to a luncheon with the mayor and his wife and a small group the civic leaders had assembled.
During his tour, the ambassador had an extensive look at 3D printing technology as college staff showed him how the image is captured and then what finish products look like when they come out of the printer.
“They told me I would be dazzled, and I was dazzled,” said Jacobson. “We saw 3D printing and how it worked, I had never seen this before. It is amazing, they had these moving things they had built all at one time.
“The parts moved, I can’t begin to describe how it worked, except to tell you it was stunning. It was a good example of how the colleges here work with the private sector to train people and develop technology.”
In Jacobson’s prior career, he was involved in this partnership of education institutions and the private sector.
In his role as ambassador, Jacobson tries to understand Canada so he can explain it back in Washington. He also has a duty to explain what the United States is doing and thinking to Canadians.
“By coming to places like Red Deer, obviously one trip to one place is not the end of my inquiry, seeing what’s going on in the colleges and what is going on with respect to innovation, that is part of the picture,” said Jacobson.
The ambassador’s conversation with students focused on how Jacobson came to the role, how his training led him to the role and perceptions of Americans and Canadians.
“This is something I ask to do whenever I go to a college or university, is to meet with the students,” said Jacobson. “It renews my faith in the future — to meet the best and brightest you have is a great thing to do. But it also challenges me and often times in these circumstances I get asked questions I have not been asked before and I love that.”
The incoming and outgoing RDC student association presidents, Martin Cruz and Eric Peppinck respectively, were among the students who had a chance to talk with the ambassador.
“As an incoming president I’m scared of what is going to happen and it’s such an eye-opener, coming from the ambassador, it’s not the skill it’s the communication,” said Cruz. “If you really like the job, then you’re good to go.”