Grads bring their talents to NL business

Alumni apply learned skills to real-world opportunity

12/5/2022 10:50:10 AM

ST. JOHN’S, NL — Three College of the North Atlantic (CNA) grads find themselves working with a very cool company these days.

SmartICE is a sea ice monitoring company with their head office right here in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) that was co-created with the Nunatsiavut Government in response to extremely dangerous sea ice conditions experienced by Nain residents in 2010.
Samuel Obed and Rex Holwell of SmartICE deploy a SmartBUOY in Nain, NL. SmartICE was co-created with the Nunatsiavut Government in response to extremely dangerous sea ice conditions experienced by Nain residents in 2010. Hamlin Lampe photo

Among the employees are: Jon Nash, a new Mechanical Engineering Technology graduate recently hired as Equipment Production Coordinator; Rex Holwell, a Labrador Community College (a predecessor of CNA) Industrial Technician graduate who is Manager of Nunatsiavut Operations; and, Cathy Mullett, a District Vocational School (also a CNA predecessor) graduate who is their Finance and Admin Lead.

Emma Dalton, SmartICE’s Communications Coordinator, explains their company is the world’s first climate change adaptation tool to integrate traditional knowledge of sea ice with advanced data acquisition and remote monitoring technology.

“Our systems combine these approaches to provide invaluable, data-driven insights into sea ice thickness and local ice conditions, in near real-time. We embrace a business model that aims to expand opportunities for economic and social development in northern markets while preserving local cultures and lifestyles.”

Carolann Harding, CEO at SmartICE, says when looking for employees they have specific qualities they are looking for.

"When recruiting staff, we look for value alignment with the organization as well as excellent communication and problem-solving skills along with a high level of the required skill set needed for the position,” she said.

The CNA graduates on staff bring with them those skills, as well as a wide variety of others.

Holwell, who graduated in 1997, says his time at CNA has helped him throughout his life’s work.
Rex Holwell is a Labrador Community College (a predecessor of CNA) Industrial Technician graduate, who is Manager of Nunatsiavut Operations at SmartICE. Hamlin Lampe photo

“I believe the program I did at the college really helped me in my field of work that I am currently in, but it also helped me for many of the other jobs and roles I have had in the past,” he said. “It helped to prepare me for the workforce in Labrador as well.”

Originally from Nain, Holwell says pursuing higher education is always a good idea.

“I recommend that people, who are unsure of what they want to do in their life, attend a post-secondary course of something they are interested in and to take it from there,” he said.

For Nash, it was the hands-on experience his program offered that he enjoyed the most.

“I would recommend this program to anyone looking for a career in building systems, design, and operation,” he explained. “This program was structured in a way that each semester builds on the last. Having a balance of both lectures and hands-on labs made it easier to understand and apply criteria in class to real-world opportunities.”

Born and raised in St. John’s, NL, Nash attended CNA’s Ridge Road campus and graduated in 2022. He says his instructors prepared him to work in the Mechanical Engineering Technology industry.

“They supplied me with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful,” he said. “The dedicated instructors were always available to answer questions and would go the extra mile to ensure every student understood what was expected. In addition, it doesn’t matter if you are fresh out of high school, or a mature student like I was, this program can be completed with a little hard work and discipline.”

For more information about CNA programs, visit

Media contact:

Ryanne McIsaac
Content Specialist
College of the North Atlantic