Northwestern Polytechnic


Life and education in Canada attract international students to migrate in search of opportunities. Which in turn makes Canada a sought-after place by many students as well as professionals for higher educational studies and career development. Canada is also home to some of the top universities of the world, along with other renowned educational brands, who continue to impart quality education to all their students – year after year. Northwestern Polytechnic is one such brand that boasts of an inclusive and inspiring learning community where connections are prioritized, and entrepreneurial educational is emphasized. 

Previously known as Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC), Northwestern Polytechnic was established in 1966 with Dr. Henry Anderson as Dean. The institution has continued to evolve and expand its reach over the years and currently operates campuses in Grande Prairie and Fairview, Alberta. Established as a college more than five decades ago, the institution received its polytechnic designation in 2021. “We are Alberta’s newest polytechnic, serving students from across Alberta, Canada and the world”, shared –  Dr. Vanessa Sheane, the Provost and Vice-President Academic of NWP. Continuing on her above statement, and speaking to the ethos present at NWP, Dr. Sheane added – “Our community and campuses are hubs of student support, holistic activities and academic pathways to help everyone succeed”. 

Striving relentlessly to provide learners with access to high-quality and diverse lifelong learning opportunities, Northwestern Polytechnic is publicly supported to provide opportunities in post-secondary education in northwestern Alberta and operates under the Post-Secondary Learning Act and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Province of Alberta. NWP also strongly encourages and supports applied research and innovative scholarly activities that complement and enhance teaching, learning and enduring industry connections.

The best learning starts with great people

Northwestern Polytechnic has strong linkages with the surrounding communities and industries. As a result, all the facilities and amenities made available for the students, from clinical teaching spaces, classrooms, or the brand-new state-of-the-art hospital, enable NWP students to benefit from hands-on learning opportunities. With the advantage of consistent exposure to industry excellence, innovative technology, and uplifting leaders, NWP graduates are difference makers wherever they go. 

NWP is a destination of choice, where students can pursue a wide variety of academic programs ranging from certificates and diplomas to degrees offered by four schools:

  • School of Applied Science and Technology
  • School of Business
  • School of Health and Education
  • School of Skilled Trades

Furthermore, the main feature that sets NWP apart from traditional institutions is the focus on applied learning. Not only do students get in-depth study, but they also benefit from hands-on, practical, and relevant technology-based skills training. The impressive industry-academia connections provide a clear advantage when it comes to secure employment or internship and project opportunities. NWP has collaborations with global corporations like Caterpillar Inc. and Finning Canada, thereby giving their graduates highly sought-after skills and a head start into careers maintaining some of the largest machinery on earth.

We are proud to host the only authorized Harley-Davidson® Training Centre in Canada and have graduated dozens of technicians who keep the sound of these iconic machines rumbling along highways across the globe”, shared – Dr. Vanessa Sheane. She also added – “Our Business School graduates also experience an easy transition into the workforce. In fact, according to recent statistics, approximately 88% of certificate graduates and 100% of diploma graduates secure employment within two years of attending NWP”. 

A hub of diverse academic and holistic portfolios

NWP campuses are teeming with opportunities to be involved in a range of social, cultural, wellness and athletic pursuits. Students can take part in seasonal activities and campus initiatives, join various teams and clubs, or cheer on the exceptional athletes who make up our cross country, volleyball, soccer and basketball teams. NWP campuses are located in picturesque Canadian landscapes, where students experience the beauty of four unique seasons and the outdoor pursuits to match. 

Like many other educational entities which host grand infrastructures for their students, NWP is a hotspot of world-class infrastructure. Be it the dormitory, apartments, townhouse, and family housing, all of the facilities are designed around the necessities of students, and with a goal of facilitating easy learning, be it inside or outside the classrooms. With the help of quick thinking staff and well-equipped IT-infrastructure, NWP quickly pivoted its approach during the height of the pandemic. These changes were embraced by students and faculty alike and have resulted in various systematic improvements across the campuses and delivery models. The hallmark of the institution has always been its ability to be responsive to local needs and deliver value to the community. 

Operating as the backbones of NWP, all the onboard faculty members are experienced instructors and are highly accessible for student support and feedback. Also, all of the staff and faculty are equally supported to pursue professional and personal development opportunities. This ensures that they are continually learning and refining their skills. Northwestern Polytechnic is building a culture of achievement, where students, staff and faculty can thrive. 

As an institution that aims to inspire impactful connections, entrepreneurial thinking and confidence, Northwestern Polytechnic’s core purpose is to ensure that all students have an opportunity to spark and empower success. To that end, Northwestern Polytechnic is committed to providing as many opportunities as possible for students to get immersive experience in authentic work environments. NWP’s focus on advancing applied learning and research opportunities is amplified by the fact that surrounding communities are home to many signature industries and businesses with contemporary challenges and opportunities to leverage. 

The institution also has a demonstrated track record of securing applied research funding and donor contributions to advance innovative and timely investigations. While there are too many grants to list in this article, one of the most recent research funding achievements is where Northwestern Polytechnic was awarded a $1 million grant over the next five years to support regenerative agriculture. Funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the project will be led by NWP’s National Bee Diagnostic Centre (NBDC) in Beaverlodge, Alberta. 

As a jewel in Northwestern Polytechnic’s research and innovation crown, NBDC was the first comprehensive laboratory in Canada to provide a full array of diagnostic services for honey bee pests, pathogens, and parasites. This one-of-a-kind research hub is another example of the distinctive nature of the great places, people and programs in this region and the opportunity that awaits at Northwestern Polytechnic, 

Dr. Vanessa Sheane –  Provost and Vice-President Academic

Dr. Vanessa Sheane is a life-long resident of the Peace Region. She was born and raised in Fairview and is a proud GPRC alumna who has made Grande Prairie her home. As the Provost and Vice President Academic and Research at Northwestern Polytechnic (formally Grande Prairie Regional College), Dr. Sheane provides innovative leadership and ensures that academic programming, applied research, and student services are responsive to industry and community needs. Vanessa received her PhD in nursing from the University of Victoria in 2021 and has various publications associated with her interest in institutional systems, organizational structures, and challenges facing postsecondary and nursing education. Over the last decade while serving at NWP, Dr. Sheane has held various high-level administrative and teaching roles. She is a Registered Nurse and a member in good standing with the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta and is passionate about quality post-secondary experiences and building community capacity.