Posts by Applied Research

RRC earns national award for innovation in applied research

May 27, 2015 • Written by
RRCCICan award

Red River College earned a bronze award for Innovation in Applied Research this week, during the closing gala of College and Institute Canada’s (CICan) annual conference in Winnipeg.

The award celebrates the College’s dynamic applied research partnership with Manitoba Hydro.

“We are pleased to be recognized for the work we have done with Manitoba Hydro, one of our most important research partners and graduate employers,” said David Rew, interim president and CEO of RRC. “What an excellent opportunity to celebrate our research achievements in sustainable technology and design.”

The College’s research collaboration with Manitoba Hydro has focused primarily on green building design and technology, and on the electrification of vehicles. Two of its most notable projects include Manitoba Hydro’s award-winning energy efficient downtown office tower and more recently, the all-electric transit bus.

“Our partnership with RRC has fostered an environment for creative integration on leading-edge technology that contributes to a more sustainable future,” said Scott Thomson, president and CEO of Manitoba Hydro. “We view our relationship with the College as an important driver for long-term change that will promote continued innovation and advancement of energy efficiency in Manitoba.”

Manitoba Hydro is now a leading proponent and private sector funder for RRC’s Centre for Building Envelop Performance, for which the College was recently awarded $1.75 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Other notable projects the partnership has delivered include the parabolic solar trough project, air-leakage testing of over 20 commercial buildings in Manitoba, one of the largest plug-in hybrid electric vehicle fleet in Canada for demonstrations, testing and more.

Gold and Silver in the Innovation in Applied Research category went to colleges from Ontario: Centennial College for its Applied Research and Innovation Centre, and Algonquin College.

“Once again we were thrilled by the submissions we received for the CICan Awards of Excellence,” said Denise Amyot, CICan president and CEO. “Canada’s colleges and institutes never cease to amaze us with their innovative spirit and creativity and this year’s winners definitely embody the best that they have to offer.”

It’s the second time CICan has recognized RRC with a national award. In 2011, they honoured Ray Hoemsen, director of Applied Research & Commercialization, with their Gold Leadership Excellence award.

In the past year, Red River College’s applied research program has been recognized both nationally — with its second consecutive Top 10 research college ranking by Research Infosource — and internationally, with an International Award of Excellence for its commitment to social development from the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics.

Paul and Gerri Charette donate $1 million to establish research chair at RRC

May 26, 2015 • Written by
Seated: Lloyd Schreyer, Chair, RRC Board of Governors; Gerri Charette; and Paul Charette, former CEO, Bird Construction. Standing: Christine Crowe, Interim Vice-President, Academic and Research, RRC; Freyja Arnason, Manager of Partnership Programs, Research Manitoba; David Rew, Interim RRC President; Nancy Wheatley, Dean, School of Construction and Engineering Technologies, RRC; and Ray Hoemsen, Director, Applied Research & Commercialization, RRC.

Red River College alum Paul Charette, former CEO of Bird Construction, and his wife Gerri have donated $1 million towards the establishment of a research chair for RRC’s School of Construction and Engineering Technology (SCET).

The province will provide matching funds to create the new chair position, which will be called the Paul Charette – Manitoba Applied Research Chair in Sustainable Construction.

“We are humbled by Paul and Gerri’s generous commitment and very pleased that the province has responded with matching funds,” said David Rew, interim president of RRC. “It’s an excellent show of confidence in SCET, and in our nationally recognized applied research program.”

The new position will support student learning while helping the construction industry develop innovative processes, technologies and applications to reduce costs, boost productivity and create more sustainable infrastructure. The Chair will also lead SCET’s research program.

“Being a 40-year veteran of the construction sector, it’s clear that research and innovation are lagging far behind other sectors,” said Charette. “I believe that sustainable infrastructure is what our industry really needs to move toward.”

Charette says applied research benefits not only the sector through new product innovations, but also students, by engaging them in the process and teaching them to be critical thinkers — an ability they’ll need to become advocates of change in the sector.

“We need students that will challenge their managers to do things in new ways,” he said.

Dr. Shokry Rashwan, previously the research manager with National Research Council Canada’s Centre for Computer-Assisted Construction Technologies, has been appointed to the new Chair position.

“Manitoba’s construction sector is heavily reliant upon the College for qualified – and increasingly, technology- and innovation-savvy – graduates,” said Rashwan. “I’m excited to be filling this critical role and look forward to working with both students and industry to meet the sector’s current and future needs.”

It’s an especially exciting time for construction innovation in Manitoba, with the College’s recent $1.75-million award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to establish the Centre for Building Envelope Performance (CBEP), which is expected to significantly increase access to the College’s facilities, equipment and expertise for Manitoba’s building industry

Rashwan is now the third research chair at Red River College, joining Fred Doern (School of Transportation, Aviation and Manufacturing) and Janet Jamieson (School of Health Sciences and Community Services).

“After a decade of applied research at the College, we are pleased to be responding to the research needs of our communities with established research chairs that provide direction and leadership to their schools,” said Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research & Commercialization.

From Kitchen to Car: Applied Research presentation by Mike Myrowich

April 27, 2015 • Written by
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Mike Myrowich initiated the CARD-funded bio-fuel project in 2010 for the purpose of reducing waste produced by the College. Since then, the project has produced approximately 1,000 litres of fuel for the College with existing equipment. In addition to the fuel it provides, the production equipment can be used as a teaching aid for students interested in the production and benefits of bio-fuel. The expected output of this project is to have as many college vehicles as possible operating on bio-fuels within the next few years.

Myrowich provides project background, information on how the fuel is produced, and how the project benefits the College, its students and the environment.

Check out the presentation!

Want to attend presentations like this in person? Interested in delivering a presentation yourself? Have any content suggestions? Please contact:

Claudius Soodeen | csoodeen@rrc.ca | 204.632.2147

 

 

Building for the Future

April 22, 2015 • Written by

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.45.57 PMCARSI is a leader in the testing of building construction materials

By Joel Schlesinger

Originally published in a Special Report by Research Manitoba

Few places can compare to Winnipeg for dramatic changes in weather.

Over the course of a typical year, this city’s temperatures will swing from a frigid -30 C in winter to a blazing hot 30 C in summer.

Those wild swings from icy cold to sizzling heat combined with heavy rain and snow loads can take a toll, especially on the materials used in the construction of roads and buildings.

Which brings us to Ray Hoemsen and his colleagues at the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Development, also known as CARSI. The centre was conceived as a grass roots idea by the School of Construction and Engineering Technologies at Red River College.

Located on the Notre Dame Campus of Red River College, CARSI is one of places in Canada where builders can test materials for building envelopes – the outer walls of a building – to see how they hold up to the forces of Mother Nature.

To that end, the facility features a huge walk-in environmental testing chamber. Large enough for a car, the chamber has a barn-style door and is divided into two compartments, each of which can be independently controlled. On any given day, Hoemsen and his crew can turn the thermostat in either compartment down to – 40 C or up to 40 C; wall assemblies can be placed in a common wall opening and tested against temperature and humidity differentials.

Yet the testing done in the chamber is just one of many activities taking place at CARSI. Since opening in 2007, the centre has become one of Manitoba’s testing facilities for leading-edge construction techniques and technologies. It is also the province’s first dedicated applied research centre at a college or polytechnic, and one of the first college projects to have received funding from the Manitoba Research and Innovation Fund, now administered by Research Manitoba. The Canada Foundation for Innovation and building industry members also invested in CARSI. “Without this support, we wouldn’t have CARSI,” says Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research & Commercialization at Red River College.

During its brief existence, CARSI has already had a huge impact on construction in Manitoba. In fact, it’s quite possible that Manitoba Hydro Place, the Crown Corporation’s office tower located on Portage Avenue near the MTS Centre, would not be one of most lauded and successful environmentally sustainable high-rise buildings in North America if not for CARSI.

That’s because one of CARSI’s original industry partners was Manitoba Hydro, and its first research project was Hydro’s downtown headquarters. In fact, the building that houses CARSI was specifically designed and constructed with a removable east wall to accommodate testing the innovative curtain wall technology used in Manitoba Hydro Place’s design.

“Basically, Manitoba Hydro was able to install a doublecurtain wall assembly in CARSI similar to the one used in the building downtown to test it for energy efficiency,” he
says.

The Crown corporation also tested other elements of its building at CARSI, including the efficacy of modular office furniture, acoustic levels and environmentally friendly
finishes (paint, carpet, etc.).

In addition to being a testing ground for the province’s construction industry when working on large projects, CARSI is also helping to set new standards for building energy efficiency and sustainability. In particular, CARSI has earned a reputation throughout Western Canada for its applied research regarding the testing of building envelopes of existing large buildings and the potential impacts on energy efficiency.

‘“Build tight; ventilate right’ is the saying they use in the industry for building envelopes,”
says Rob Spewak, Research Manager of Applied Research & Commercialization at
Red River College.

Funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada – or NSERC for
short – CARSI’s building envelope testing unit specializes in an often overlooked area
that can impact energy efficiency: whole building air leakage characteristics of large
institutional and commercial buildings, including multi-unit residential buildings.

Spewak and students from Red River’s Architectural/Engineering and Mechanical
Engineering Technology Departments have tested buildings across the province for air
leakage in building envelopes.

However, this is not just a matter of testing how airtight a building is; of equal importance
is where the air leakage locations are within a building. A building’s materials and assemblies
integrity can be impacted on the whole depending on the location of a given leak.

“With stack effect, in a building, warm air rises and there’s higher pressure at the top
of the building combined with mechanical systems pressurization and wind,” says Spewak.
“Warm, moist air can seep into cracks and other openings – any imperfection – and it can
eventually cause condensation to form within the wall assemblies, which can result in mould
growth, corrosion and freeze/thaw cycling, which will expand the water to push the walls
apart, leading to building envelope failure.”

Examples of envelope failure are numerous in Winnipeg, which has a large stock old buildings
built long before controlling air flow and humidity was a design consideration.
Spewak says the former Public Safety Building, the Winnipeg Convention Centre, Concert Hall
and even the Winnipeg Art Gallery are four well-known examples of building envelope
failure which all required costly repairs and retrofits.

Until CARSI launched its testing project, no mechanism existed for whole building air
tightness testing for large building envelopes in Winnipeg, though Manitoba Hydro had done
extensive testing on homes and some work on two large buildings.

Yet the need for this kind of testing to assess the impacts on energy efficiency was
compelling from a cost perspective. In light of this, Manitoba Hydro provided additional
funding to undertake this research in order to gain an understanding of the types of
energy savings that could be realized from constructing airtight buildings and performing
remedial sealing work for retrofit projects.

The benefits of CARSI to the economy of Manitoba are evident. Thanks to research at
CARSI, more than two dozen large structures have been tested so far, and the research unit
has developed the expertise to help establish new Canadian and even North American
testing protocols and standards for building envelope testing.

This research has complemented other activities at CARSI, such as the monitoring
of both existing and new building envelope materials with embedded sensors that monitor
the ongoing performance and stability of building envelopes.

CARSI’s first work in this area involved the restoration of the old Union Bank Tower in the
Exchange District when it was being retrofitted to house Red River’s culinary school, the
Paterson GlobalFoods Institute.

“The challenge was the building had been there for about 100 years with no insulation
and now we were adding insulation as part of the new design,” Spewak says.

Realizing the potential problems that might arise due to potential moisture accumulation,
architects and engineers working on the project worked with CARSI to install sensors
into the building’s exterior wall section to facilitate long-term monitoring of moisture
and temperature profiles.

Yet beyond helping the construction industry build more sustainably, CARSI has served
an equally important purpose by providing cutting-edge training for Red River students,
Hoemsen says.

“We’ve been helping prepare our graduates for the workforce with the latest skills, using the
best new applied technologies that will help them forge long, successful careers.”


 

Want to learn more about Buildings Research at Red River College? Check out these videos:

Centre for Building Envelope Commissioning

The Centre for Building Envelope Performance (CBEP) is being established with the support of a $1.75-million grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). This video shares the genesis of what led to the creation of this new Centre and gives a glimpse as to what Manitoba’s construction sector can expect to see in the future.

The Sustainable Infrastructure Technologies Research Group (SITRG)

Over the last five years, SITRG has been assisting local businesses in conducting applied research towards enhancing the performance of large commercial and institutional buildings, while engaging RRC faculty, staff, and students in the process.  Hear about it from a few of our partners in the video (produced with the support of NSERC):

RRC Research Chair nominated for YMCA-YWCA’s Women of Distinction Award

April 17, 2015 • Written by
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She’s devoted years to the development of a global online resource that links early childhood educators with the latest in research and knowledge.

So it’s no surprise that Red River College’s Janet Jamieson — Research Chair for the School of Health Sciences and Community Services, and the driving force behind the College’s world-renowned Science of Early Child Development (SECD) research project — has been nominated for a 2015 Women of Distinction Award.

Jamieson (shown above, at centre) was nominated in the category of Community Activism and Social Enterprise — a perfect match, given she’s been the principal researcher and lead developer on a series of projects for RRC that are grounded in the advancement of social equity, and have in turn led to the advancement of economic and environmental priorities.

The most notable of these is SECD, a knowledge mobilization initiative designed to make current research accessible to anyone interested in learning more about the profound impact of the early years on lifelong health and well-being.

First developed as a tool to help share the emerging science about early brain development and its implications for practice across sectors, SECD has grown and evolved into three online living textbooks, as well as other educational resources. Updated regularly, it brings research and concepts to life with hundreds of readings, videos, links and interactive activities. There have been many versions and modules developed to support its use with a variety of audiences throughout the world.

Colleges and universities (in Canada and elsewhere) use SECD in pre-entry, diploma, undergraduate and graduate programs as content for online and off-line courses, while government and community organizations use it for parent education workshops, staff training and professional development. Students, instructors and parent groups in 27 countries around the world use SECD.

Through a partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation, SECD is used extensively in East Africa and South Asia, reaching people in the most poverty-stricken parts of the world, and teaching them how to interact with their children to support healthy growth and development.

Jamieson herself has travelled extensively to isolated parts of Africa and Asia to deliver training modules and work with members of local communities to develop their skills at delivering SECD content. Her work has directly impacted hundreds of people in at least 22 countries, and has led to government advocacy that’s focused on investments in the early years as a way to improve economic, social and other outcomes.

And SECD represents only a fraction of Jamieson’s work. She has also led and overseen other projects in Bangladesh and Pakistan, has trained community-based workers in Sub-Saharan Africa to work with children impacted by HIV/AIDS, and has documented the leading-edge practices for health and early childhood education in Cuba, which have exceptionally high outcomes.

Jamieson has also contributed at the local level, serving on several advisory committees (among them Healthy Child Manitoba) related to early childhood development issues. She also led and managed an intervention known as the Abecedarian project, a structured, targeted approach that works with children in child care centres in Winnipeg’s lowest-income neighbourhoods, providing reading and other supports to support the successful entry of the children into the public school system.

Hosted by YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg, this year’s Women of Distinction Awards Gala takes place May 6, at the RBC Convention Centre.

 

Red River College granted national funds to establish technology access centre for Manitoba’s construction sector

April 8, 2015 • Written by
Rob for CBEP

WINNIPEG, MB – Red River College (RRC) has been awarded $1.75 million over 5 years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to establish the Centre for Building Envelope Performance (CBEP) at their Notre Dame Campus in Winnipeg.

CBEP is expected to significantly increase access to the College’s facilities, equipment, and expertise for Manitoba’s building industry, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises whose products and services directly impact a building’s envelope.

The envelope can significantly impact a building’s overall construction and maintenance costs, durability, appearance, occupant comfort and health, and energy performance.

“This grant will provide a meaningful enhancement to our ability to serve Manitoba’s construction sector with advanced graduates and professional training, as well as fostering innovation in a critical component of building design and construction,” said David Rew, Interim President and CEO of Red River College.

Increased building complexity, new standards and code requirements, and increased pressure to reduce energy use are just a few of the challenges faced by Manitoba’s construction sector.

“Our partners are absolutely thrilled with the news,” said Rob Spewak, who is transitioning from senior research manager to take on management of the new Centre. “The industry is facing a seemingly perfect storm of challenges, and it consists almost entirely of small businesses which generally lack comprehensive resources to do research, testing, and training in-house.”


Check out this video! It tells the story of why CBEP is being established at Red River College.


Another significant driver for the Centre’s establishment is Manitoba’s extreme temperatures – especially its harsh winter weather; it has historically presented major challenges that have led to several notable – and costly – building failures.

“As a result, building envelope training and research was identified as the most important issue faced by our stakeholders, who along with Manitoba’s construction industry, include the Province of Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro,” said Spewak.

Manitoba Hydro is a leading industry proponent of the CBEP; its Power Smart conservation programs are currently targeting energy efficiency improvements in over 35,000 commercial enterprises in Manitoba.

“The knowledge gained from the work of the CBEP will have broad application to all sectors, including the building envelopes of residential, commercial and industrial facilities across Manitoba,” said Dale Friesen, Division Manager, Industrial and Commercial Solutions with Manitoba Hydro.

The Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure - established in 2007.

The Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure – established in 2007.

CBEP will be operated under Red River College’s School of Construction and Engineering Technologies, and will leverage the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure as well as a previous $2.3-million 5-year grant to conduct applied research on improving the energy performance of commercial buildings.

Red River College is now the only college in Canada to operate two NSERC-funded technology access centres. The first of which is the Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing, which was established in 2012 and has yielded many benefits to the aerospace industry.

“With the addition of this second Technology Access Centre, Red River College is able to better meet the innovation, specialized service, and training needs of both the manufacturing and construction sectors – serving 17 percent of Manitoba’s GDP,” said Ray Hoemsen, director of Applied Research & Commercialization at the College.

The Honourable Minister of State (Science and Technology), Ed Holder made the funding announcement today at Hamilton Ontario’s Mohawk College as part of over $40 million in grants to colleges across Canada.

“Our government’s providing record investments necessary to push the boundaries of knowledge, create jobs, and improve the quality of life of Canadians. Our government is committed to creating the conditions that will allow entrepreneurship to thrive in this country,” said Holder. “The collaboration between colleges and local industrial partners generates new products and ideas, creating long-term prosperity for the benefit of all Canadians.”

Applied Research, Program Innovation and Student Engagement

March 30, 2015 • Written by
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Liting Han, instructor and CARD-funded researcher with Electrical Engineering Technologies at Red River College highlights several of her research projects, focusing on how she included students in the process.

Check out her presentation!

Want to attend presentations like this in person? Interested in delivering a presentation yourself? Have any content suggestions? Please contact:

Claudius Soodeen | csoodeen@rrc.ca | 204.632.2147

Red River College unveils Manitoba’s first rapid charger for electric vehicles

March 26, 2015 • Written by
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Red River College is giving Manitoba electric vehicle (EV) owners a boost with its recently installed and operational Level 3 (30KW DC) quick charging station, the first of its kind in the province and one of about two dozen across Canada.

Drivers of Level 3 compliant EVs, including Nissan Leafs, Mitsubishi i-MiEVs, and Teslas, can now drop by the College’s Notre Dame Campus to charge up while contributing to research on the charger’s performance in Manitoba’s climate.

“With the installation of this new charger, we continue to play a leading role in Manitoba’s green transportation future,” said David Rew, RRC interim president and CEO. “This rapid charging station is another key element in our Mobility from Green Energy Initiative and a logical next step in our vehicle technology research program.”

Level 3 stations can charge an EV to at least an 80 percent charge in 15 to 30 minutes; this is compared to a 220/240V Level 2 charger, which can take 4 to 6 hours to get to full charge, or an 110/120V Level 1 charger (like those found around your house), which can take about 24 hours.

“There are currently no other rapid charging stations of this level in a climate as diverse as Winnipeg’s,” said Ray Hoemsen, director of Applied Research & Commercialization at Red River College. “The effect on both the Lithium ion battery and vehicle performance when utilizing rapid charging in extreme winter weather is still unknown.”

The new charging station will be handy for compliant EV owners – especially those traveling from out of town – who need a quick boost to make it to their next destination.

“EV owners who live more than an hour’s drive from Winnipeg will now be able to use their EVs to commute to the city,” said Robert Elms, president of the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association. “This is a major step forward in the establishment of EV charging infrastructure in Manitoba.”

Red River College is sharing the charging station with whoever is able to use it, so long as they register and agree to participate in its study when called upon.

Funding for the charger was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; it will be used as part of the College’s ongoing EV research, testing, and demonstration projects at its Electric Vehicle Technology & Education Centre (EVTEC).

See related Media coverage:

 

Local startup food processor partners with Red River College research chef to win Best New Product award

March 11, 2015 • Written by
Chef Gray and his team of RRC students at the MFPA Gala.

WINNIPEG, MB – Canadian Prairie Garden Puree (CPGP) has just been awarded Manitoba’s Best New Product at the Manitoba Food Processor’s Association’s (MFPA’s) annual awards Gala.  Red River College’s lead research chef, Brad Gray, created the innovative dishes incorporating CPGP’s ingredients that won over the judges’ hearts, minds, and taste buds.

Kelly Beaulieu with some of her award winning product.

Kelly Beaulieu with some of her award winning product.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with the result,” said Kelly Beaulieu, Founder of CPGP. “There were a lot of large established producers in the competition and the validation that comes with this award really means a lot to our early-stage business. Chef Gray played an critical role and he was able to answer the judges’ questions intelligently and with a genuine passion for the product.”

CPGP uses innovative technology and processes to transform high-quality, non-GMO and Manitoba-sourced crops, into additive- and preservative-free purees with a shelf life of 2 years.

“I think the judges were most impressed with the versatility of vegetable purees,” said Chef Gray. “When you think vegetable puree, tasty mac n’ cheese and chocolate cake aren’t typically the first things to come to mind.”

UPDATE: Listen to this short interview with Chef Gray on CJOB radio.

But those are exactly the dishes Chef Gray created to showcase the versatility, quality and flavours of CPGP’s purees: a gingered carrot mac n’ cheese and a beet chocolate cake parfait with carrot sabayon, Saskatoon sauce and milk chocolate ganache.

“This is an excellent demonstration the role the College plays in Manitoba’s food research and development ecosystem,” said Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research & Commercialization (AR&C) at Red River College. “We challenge our research chefs and students to showcase the commercial potential of food products created by innovative local producers.”

Red River College only recently established its food research program in its School of Hospitality and Culinary at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute in 2012 with research infrastructure support from Western Economic Diversification. Since then, it has been working to communicate the College’s capabilities and form relationships with producers.

It was through those networking efforts that the College started working with CPGP’s products.

“Chef Gray and I met with Kelly and toured the manufacturing facility in November 2014. We were excited about the variety of products and came back with several samples to experiment with,” said Mavis McRae, AR&C research manager.

Only one month later, CPGP’s purees were featured in two of Chef Gray’s dishes at the MFPA’s annual holiday reception.  The navy bean and Saskatoon puree crème brûlée and a beet and goat cheese crostini were a huge hit as six RRC students served up samples to over 500 guests at RRC’s booth.

Chef Gray preparing his crème brûlée.

Chef Gray preparing his crème brûlée.

The delicious crème brûlée.

The delicious crème brûlée.

Mouth watering beet crostini.

Mouth watering beet crostini.

“Based on feedback from the reception, CPGP asked if I could help them present for the New Product Award at the MFPA gala,” said Chef Gray.

“I believe the industry is taking note,” said Chef Gray. “I’ve already received a few more requests and invitations. They are seeing the value of having a research chef involved in the product development and commercialization process.”

RRC and CPGP are now in the midst of developing more formal research initiatives.

“We are very excited about what’s ahead,” said Beaulieu. “The College is great to work with and they know how to tap into applied research resources – a potentially critical element to our commercial success.”

Another outcome is that Chef Gray will be one of three chefs competing at Agriculture Awareness day on Mar. 17, 2015 at the Legislative Building; he will develop a new dessert recipe using CPGP’s purees, along with other Manitoba ingredients, which a catering company will then prepare for 80 people who will vote for their favourite dish.

“Having innovative companies like CPGP bring new ingredients to the food service industry allows access to healthy, locally grown and processed ingredients throughout the year,” said McRae.  “We congratulate CPGP for their vision and look forward to watching them expand their success.”

It’s definitely exciting times for food product research in Manitoba, and Red River College is just getting started in helping bring Manitoba food innovations to market.

College Applied Research Series: Students, Faculty & Curriculum

February 26, 2015 • Written by
This article is the second in a series of four by Ray Hoemsen, Director, Applied Research & Commercialization, Red River College.

This is article is the last of a series of four that were published in the College Applied Research Series by Ray Hoemsen, Director, Applied Research & Commercialization, Red River College.

As originally published in the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators Newsletter.

Applied research – which is driven by community needs – in Canada’s colleges and polytechnics enhances the applied
learning experience of the students (all undergraduates), broadens and deepens the experience of the instructors and
serves to enhance the curriculum; while adding value in (and benefit to) the local economy.

Since most full-time instructors generally have 20 or so contact hours per week, they themselves have limited time to dedicate to applied research. Therefore, students play an integral role in applied research since they are often hired (at rates which can exceed what a postdoctoral student would receive from a granting council) to carry out applied research (under the supervision of the instructor or a dedicated research professional). And, of course, more and more students have the opportunity to undertake classroom-based applied research activities – especially in capstone courses. Student engagement also results in the availability of highly-qualified skilled personnel for the
workforce; and enhances the accessibility for SMEs who may not have in-house R&D capabilities.

Colleges routinely grant their applied research clients commercial rights to project research results, while retaining rights for further research and education purposes (this is also an expectation of the Tri-Council).

Therefore, there is ample opportunity to integrate learnings into curriculum – be it an existing or new course, a workshop, or customized training. This is normally led by the Schools (or
Faculties).

Colleges and Institutes Canada (1) reported that in 2012-13 more than 29,000 students were involved in applied research – a ten-fold increase in participation over the last five years. This translates to nearly 13 students for every faculty, staff, industrial expert and technician involved in applied research.

And Polytechnics Canada data (2) shows that since 2007/08 nearly 46,000 students have been involved in hands-on applied research projects, supplementing the efforts of more
than 5,200 staff and faculty; servicing the needs of nearly 7,000 Canadian companies (93% of which were SMEs).

Some best practices for supporting college faculty and student
engagement in applied research (3) are:

  • faculty release time and/or salary top-up;
  • student salary or research grant (direct to student);
  • student placement salary support (direct to employer);
  • provision of materials, supplies, equipment and facility access; and
  • enabling technology diffusion and transfer, including travel to conferences and workshops.

In this regard, the lessons learned (over the last decade) at Red River College include:

  • flexible intellectual property policy incents industry engagement;
  • students and instructors are integral and essential components in responding to community needs;
  • supportive government policies and programs have helped to build college applied research capacity, but there are limited supports for non-degree college student engagement (other than the Tri-Council’s College and Community Innovation Program);
    employ students (at market rates) to work on industry applied research projects;
  • use internal and external grants to engage students, as well as capstone projects and competitions;
  • partner with other academic institutions; and hire students in the applied research office (i.e. “walk the talk”).

In closing, at CAURA’s Got Talent! (June 2014), the panel on student engagement in applied research in the colleges and polytechnics identified key outcomes as “increased skill acquisition and development; the ability to apply learning to real world contexts; and increased employability (and employment)”

 

(1): Applied Research at Colleges and Institutes 2012-13. Colleges and Institutes Canada. http://www.collegesinstitutes.ca/what-wedo/ appliedresearch-2/scan-2012-13/ downloaded September 11, 2014.
(2): Polytechnics Canada Applied Research Metrics 2013/14.July 1, 2014
(3) Eligible costs under the Tri-Council’s College and Community Innovation Program, administered by NSERC.

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