Brampton, Mississauga and Oakville Campuses Help Ontario
When COVID-19 breached Canada’s shores, Sheridan College students, staff, and faculty quickly marshaled resources and skills to support the communities of Brampton, Mississauga, and Oakville. The hashtag ‘#SheridanHelps’ became a unifying call-to-action that delivered solutions to a range of unexpected, pandemic-driven issues.
Sheridan’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Janet Morrison
Sheridan recently released a new Strategic Plan titled, Sheridan 2024: Galvanizing Education for a Complex World to guide the institution’s course. The leadership team’s recognition that transforming higher education is vital seems almost prescient in the face of recent challenges. Five-year goals to enhance academic programs to align with current needs, build relationships with industry, and create stronger community connections became even more meaningful in response to COVID.
Innovative Technology Supports Frontline Healthcare Providers
The need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare teams in hospitals and long-term care facilities dealing with COVID-19 patients far outpaces available supplies. Faculty, staff and students at the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT) responded by using technology to create reusable PPE.
A team produced about 200 plastic face shields daily using 3D printers and laser and waterjet cutting machines. Healthcare staff and clinicians received access to standard, pre-assembled face shields or foldable shields that easily pack and ship. Thanks to the college’s deep connections within its local communities, Sheridan produced PPE headed directly to local hospitals and long-term care homes ensuring there were no intermediary profits from their distribution.
Corporate Partnership Boosts Small Businesses
The disruptive ripples from COVID-19 extend beyond healthcare to small businesses in Ontario. New rules about social distancing and the desire to protect consumers and staff mean local companies must rethink the customer experience.
Coca-Cola in Canada recognized that staying open would be more difficult for some small businesses without access to protective resources. Coco-Cola donated $75,000 to cover material costs for the Sheridan College CAMDT to produce more than 200 countertop shields for cashiers. High demand for plexiglass, the traditional material for guards, forced the CAMDT team to look for other, more readily available options. The college found an alternative form of plastic, comparable in strength and easier to obtain. The result? Technology, creativity, expertise, and a generous industry partner helped Sheridan contribute meaningful solutions in real time to local business owners.
Sheridan Employees Contribute to Their Communities
Every individual can positively affect another’s life, and Sheridan’s staff put their skills, knowledge, and connections to work, helping others deal with the impact of COVID-19.
• Health Centre Manager, Tammy Datars, stepped up to work 12-hour weekend shifts in Trillium Health Partners’ Mississauga Hospital emergency Room. She also coordinated Sheridan’s health service transition to an online format and supported the clinicians who delivered care through phone and video appointments. Tammy worked with colleagues in the Centre for Student Success and the International Centre calling Sheridan students for wellness check-ins.
• Demand for face masks for healthcare and essential workers and immune- compromised and quarantined consumers quickly rose as COVID-19 spread. In response to the growing need, John Wang, Professor in Sheridan’s Applied Science and Technology’s School of Applied Computing, organized a sewing group that made thousands of cloth masks since April. The use of masks in shared spaces like grocery stores and public transit helps prevent COVID transmission.
• Mary-Catherine Huston, an alumna from Sheridan’s Social Service Worker program (’09) and current Student Advisor at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus in Oakville, also answered the #SheridanHelps call. Her at-home project uses two 3D printers to produce face mask ear savers and bands for face shields. Mary and her partner have created more than 250 units for frontline workers. Ramzy Ganady, Research Technologist at Sheridan’s center for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies, with one of the protective countertop shields made in partnership with Coca-Cola Canada.
Sheridan Faculty Research Collaboration Explores a Diagnostic Solution
Diagnosing COVID-19 through testing remains an essential pillar of the strategy to control the spread of the disease. Researchers and faculty from the Centre of Mobile Innovation (CMI), one of Sheridan’s six Research and Incubation Centres, and the Faculty of Applied Science and Technology, partnered with Canada’s Tech4Life research and design company on an innovative, low-cost solution.
The team reconfigured NewPneu, a mobile health assessment system for children with pneumonia that was developed by the CMI and Tech4Life. They’re investigating how clinicians and caregivers can remotely monitor real-time vital signs of people with positive test results, giving healthcare professionals essential information to guide treatment plans. The new system could keep patients connected to healthcare providers who can quickly triage and hospitalize those who may need additional support.
Dr. Ed Sykes and Dr. Tarek El Salti received the Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Award of Excellence for their dedication to the local community, students and the broader post-secondary education sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sheridan’s Ongoing Commitment to its Communities
Since opening in 1967, Sheridan College has grown into one of Ontario’s award-winning, leading postsecondary institutions. But serving as an anchor in its campus communities and developing innovative solutions to real-world problems is the institution’s greatest reward.
Dr. Janet Morrison, Sheridan’s President and Vice-Chancellor, sums up the impact of the SheridanHelps initiative this way: “I continue to be inspired by the creativity, ingenuity, and compassion that personifies our Sheridan community. This pandemic is bigger than any of us; I am more certain than ever that harnessing our collective capacity and demonstrating compassion are the keys to navigating this uncharted territory successfully.”
Sheridan serves its students and communities through its Research and Incubation Centres, talented faculty, and academic programs designed to align with current needs. When students have the skills, agility, and confidence to face an unpredictable, possibility-filled world, they’ll meet and conquer challenges, making communities stronger and healthier.
Additional contributions to Ontario include:
• Participating in the District Energy Program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sheridan has already reduced its carbon footprint beyond the 2020 goal of 50%.
• Supporting youth through partnership with Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Peel.
• Providing skilled, trained students to employers through its Community Employment Services (CES).
• Partnering with the Four Corners Branch Library to bolster membership and creatively connect with the community.
• Partnering on the Government of Canada’s new Investment Readiness Program which will allocate $800 million for social innovation and finance initiatives across the country in the next decade.
• Engaging with Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Canada Program, a Tri-Agency initiative. Organizations in the program include the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR], Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council [SSHRC], and Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada [NSERC].