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Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Student capstone tees up eco-friendly golf course design

Just off Highway 1A, west of Calgary and towards the Canadian Rockies, sits the National Golf and Country Club at Golden Royale Springs, Alberta’s first environmentally friendly golf course — or it could, one day.

A group of SAIT students turned grads — Kyle Shave, Jiayu Wang, Craig Nelson and David Weisbrot — designed the concept course for their Engineering Design and Drafting Technology (EDDT) capstone project.

“The idea for the project came about when we were trying to decide which discipline we wanted to focus on,” says David Weisbrot, EDDT ’20. “Our group was split between focusing on a civil project or a structural project. We thought a golf course gave us the opportunity to include both, while still being something we could have fun with.”

The project was recently named one of seven finalists for the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta’s (ASET) Capstone Project of the Year Award. The award recognizes engineering technology students who demonstrate innovation and ingenuity.

Going green on the green

“The main environmental issues with golf courses is their large footprint and the water needed to maintain them,” says Weisbrot. “In order to address these issues, we focused on trying to blend the course into the existing landscape as much as possible, while using the slopes to facilitate water re-use.”

While taking advantage of the natural features and vegetation of the planned site, the group’s nine-hole course design also incorporated sublayers below the surface to help retain water during warmer weather and assist with drainage during periods of heavy rain.

The addition of solar panels to a storage building included in the design also provides energy to charge solar-powered golf carts on site.

“The philosophies of sustainable design are infiltrating many aspects of what we do as drafters and designers,” says Lindsay Douglass, instructor, EDDT. “Students have an increased global consciousness, they’re considering material sourcing, minimizing waste, stimulating the local economy, reducing negative environmental impacts, and the mental and physical health of the occupants of their designs.”

“This group of students was really thoughtful about sustainable practices throughout the whole design process and applying these concepts to their final product.”


Sublayer section of a golf course hole from a conceptual design

Hole #1 longitudinal profile.

Bringing ideas to life with tech

The capstone project deliverables were completed using a variety of industry-standard technology tools. The course was designed with Civil 3D engineering design software, and a 3D rendering was presented using InfraWorks 360 and Twinmotion software.

“The toughest problems we had to overcome were technical issues related to creating the course in Civil 3D,” says Weisbrot. “In order to maintain our project schedule we had to get ahead of what we were learning in our course work.”

The group got a helping hand with that from EDDT instructor Kyle Evans.

“Bringing this kind of project to life is where industry is currently headed,” says Evans. “These types of software help immensely with the design process as they allow you to view your design in real-time, in 3D. This makes it easy to highlight problems or areas of concern.”

Career-ready in the classroom

The culmination of two years of study, the capstone project is an accreditation requirement that allows the students to graduate with a diploma recognized by ASET and Technology Accreditation Canada.

“With a capstone, things are laid out more like they would be in industry, with all the problems and solutions that come along with it,” says Evans.  

The real-world focus of a capstone project allows students to take the knowledge they’ve acquired throughout their studies and build on it.  

“It’s an opportunity for students to apply and showcase their drafting and design knowledge, problem solving skills, critical thinking and innovation, while building collaboration skills within their team,” adds Douglass.

ASET Capstone Project of the Year Award winners will be announced this summer.

Adrienne Madden

Adrienne Madden

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