NIC alum leading international research on sustainable energy technology

Dr. Dustin Banham with NIC instructor, Dr. Sherrie Wang, on a visit to NIC in January 2020. 

NIC alumnus Dr. Dustin Banham has found international success in sustainable energy research, a career path that he discovered during his time at North Island College (NIC).

Banham works as the Chief Technology Officer of a fuel cell manufacturing company and the Chief Executive Officer of a partner company focused on research and development. He is responsible for leading the development and manufacturing of fuel cells at one of China’s largest fuel cell development companies. He says he wouldn’t be where is now without the support and encouragement he received at NIC.

“The strong education I received at NIC formed an excellent foundation for me, and it also opened my eyes to new areas of interest that I previously had never considered,” he said.

It was in NIC’s Associate of Science program that Banham saw how to combine his interests into a career, which led to him getting a degree in Chemical Physics and ultimately a PhD in Electrochemistry at the University of Calgary.

“The instructors at NIC all took significant time with me to discuss my plans, and helped me to ultimately choose to major in Chemical Physics, which is essentially a blend of chemistry and physics courses. I specifically recall discussing with one of the faculty members at NIC about the design of the first fuel cell I had ever made at home, and getting his very helpful input on my plans,” he said.

Banham discovered one of the benefits of NIC after he transferred to university to complete his degree.

“It was immediately obvious to me that the quality and style of learning that I had received at NIC had far better prepared me for University than my peers who were enrolling in University directly from high school,” he said. “I had been able to complete all of my first year University level courses and some of my second year level courses at NIC, so I had far less pressure than most science students. This allowed me to spend more time focusing on the topics I enjoyed as opposed to simply trying to survive the fast paced University learning style-- which is often the case for students enrolling directly from high school.” 

Seeing the experiences of his fellow students also made him appreciate his time at NIC.

“Where I had received close, one-on-one support at NIC in my first year courses, the first few years at a large University do not generally allow for such close interaction. This certainly changes in the latter years at a University, where class sizes invariably decrease and Professor/student interactions increase, but I am thrilled with my choice to attend NIC prior to taking the next step in my education,” said Banham.

Banham wants to ensure the next generation of scientists and researchers have the opportunity to gain the same foundation he did when he was starting out.

“I found the main advantage of doing studies at NIC is the close relationships you can form with each of the instructors and their willingness to take the time to discuss all of your interests and answer questions. NIC set me up for success in a way I didn’t fully appreciate until I’d taken that next step in my career. I’m very grateful that I had that experience and I hope other students take advantage of the incredible education available through NIC.”

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