St. Clair College works directly with 10 to 20 industry partners each year to develop research projects to solve cutting-edge problems.
They come to us with an idea or a challenge and, if it matches with the research capacity, facilities and equipment of the college, our researchers and students help develop prototypes, proofs of concept and new processes,” says Peter Wawrow, director of research and innovation.
It’s a highly collaborative process. The research team, led by a faculty member or hired researcher, meets with company representatives regularly. Students get real-world project experience and mentorship from industry leaders.
“That means our students graduate with the skill sets that are needed by industry. They get to work on fun, emerging, leading-edge technology. This research often drives where curriculum is heading.”
Project managers within Wawrow’s department provide administration oversight, including budgets, timelines and applications for government grants.
“They ensure everyone is happy and that the project is moving forward according to the plan that’s been set out.”
The majority of St. Clair’s research is in automobility and advanced manufacturing, but social innovation and health sciences are areas of growing momentum.
The college’s Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing is a 100,000-square-foot facility that has a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing space.
“It is focused on Industry 4.0. It includes several research labs, including robotics and automation, additive manufacturing, and simulation, virtual reality and digital twinning.”
St. Clair is also home to the research arm of the Canadian Automobility Hub, which is undertaking a pilot project to convert a Ford F150 internal combustion engine truck to electric battery power.
“We see a great opportunity to continue to contribute to the Automobility Hub.”
Wawrow says the college research sector works together closely to leverage and grow its collective strengths.
“St. Clair also complements what is happening at the University of Windsor, by working at different ends of the research continuum.”
College research is applied, practical and solutions-focused, while universities focus on early-stage, theoretical, and fundamental exploration.
“College research has a large impact on industry and the community because a lot of what we do is very tangible and has a positive effect on economic development.”