Author: Julie Greco

Knights Curling captures OCAA silver

The Niagara College women’s curling program captured a silver medal at the 2017 OCAA Curling Championship, hosted by Sault College in Sault St. Marie, on Sunday, February 19.

The Knights defeated the top-seeded Fleming knights in the semi-finals by before losing a tight 6-4 battle to the Humber Hawks in the Gold Medal game.

In addition to the silver medal, St. Catharines native Emma Caldwell was named an OCAA Second Team All-Star, while head coach Jordan thin was named OCAA Curling Coach of the year. This marks the second consecutive year Thin has earned the accolade.

The second place finish gives Niagara College intercollegiate athletics its first OCAA women’s curling medal since the 2012-13 season when they captured gold. The medal also gives the Knights five OCAA medals so far in 2016-17. The Niagara Knights women’s curling team consists of Lorelle Weavers (Burlington), Renee Boyce (St. Catharines), Courtney Smith (St. Catharines), and Emma Caldwell (St. Catharines).

The four-day event saw the Knights finish round robin play with a record of 4-2. In round robin play, the Niagara side secured victories over Mohawk (6-3), Fleming (8-5), Fanshawe (5-2), and Seneca (5-3). The team was beaten by St. Clair (7-5) and Humber (7-1).

The Knights advanced the medal round as the number four seed and faced the 5-1 Fleming Knights in the semi-final. The tight battle saw the two teams tied 3-3 after five ends. The turning point proved to be the sixth frame, when the Knights stole a pair, to go up 5-3. Fleming would take two points of their own in the seventh, but in the process gave Niagara the hammer for the eighth and final end. Niagara made no mistake, scoring two points to secure the 7-5 victory while advancing to the gold medal match.

The Knights faced the Humber Hawks in the championship game. In the round robin, the Hawks cruised to a lopsided 7-1 victory, in a performance that Knights Curling head coach Jordan Thin simply chalked up to “flat game” by his team.

The gold medal match proved to be much tighter. The two teams traded single points in the early stages. Niagara led a 2-1 after three ends. With the hammer in the fourth, the Hawks managed to score the elusive first two-point end. The Knights tied the game up in the fifth, but the Hawks once again scored a deuce in the sixth end to lead 5-3.
With the Hawks doubling down on clean and defensive play, Niagara managed to score a single point in the seventh end giving the Hawks a 5-4 lead heading into the final frame. The Hawks played clean, picked up a single point, and captured the hard fought 6-4 victory.

With the silver medal performance, the Knights now advance to the CCAA National Curling Championship being hosted from March 21-24 by the University of Alberta-Augustana in Camrose, Alberta.

A ‘crackling’ prototype

Niagara College won’t go breaking any ‘hearts’ this Valentine’s Day.

That’s because its Research & Innovation team has discovered a way to automate the process of cracking delicious heartnuts without breaking their heart-shaped shells or kernels!

After a 20-year search for a mechanized ‘heartnut sheller,’ local industry partner Grimo Nut Nursery has found new hope with the team of students, faculty and research experts with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Niagara College.

Heartnuts are in high demand due to their attractive shape, mild subtle flavour and heart-healthy properties; however, without automation, commercialization of the heartnut-growing industry in Ontario has stalled. Until now, this specialty nut has had to be cracked manually due to the complexities of precisely breaking each nut, so the heart-shaped shell opens like a locket and inside remains an intact, heart-shaped kernel.

Grimo Nursery has partnered with the NC Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre for its research team to design, develop and fabricate a working prototype that automatically cracks heartnuts without breaking the aesthetic heart-shaped shell or inside flesh. There have been four other previous attempts, (by other businesses, individuals and another academic institution) at producing such a device.

“Niagara College was our last hope,” says Linda Grimo owner, along with her father Ernie, of the nut nursery. “Everyone struggled with the main complexity of aligning the nut to be oriented to crack on its seam, as it required innovative thought and an understanding of computer and electronic knowledge.”

The project was certainly a challenge, agrees Gord Maretzki a mechanical engineer and research lead with the Research & Innovation (R&I) division at NC. “We had to design a machine that was able to crack the variations in organic structure because each nut is asymmetrical and takes a different amount of cracking force.”

During the project Maretzki mentored two engineering students to have a crack at the complex mechanism. They incorporated the array of technology at their disposal within the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, such as a state-of-the art 3D printer and a lab to devise a programmable logic controller and electrical pneumatic circuit schematics.

Like many, Brian Cunningham, an electrical engineering technology student and part of the research team at NC, had never heard of the heartnut before starting his research co-op in October, along with fellow mechanical engineering student Jacob Morris. “This challenge was very intriguing, but the most exciting part for me was the prospect of helping to expand a relatively niche industry right here in the Niagara Region. I’ve lived here my whole life, and seeing local businesses grow gives me a lot of pride.

“This experience has been nothing short of fantastic! Gord Maretzki has been an amazing mentor – he’s overflowing with knowledge and experience so I’ve tried to absorb as much information as I can,” added Cunningham.

Combined with his class studies at the College, Cunningham says he’s been able to gain a greater balance of technical skills, theoretical knowledge, and a better understanding of how a research and development project comes together as a whole. “I’ve also been able to improve my interpersonal skills by working directly with actual clients and collaborating with my research team,” he said.

As for Grimo, she is quick to praise the research team at NC. “The Niagara College team was enthusiastic right from the start. They saw the value in our idea. They developed a work plan and have kept us engaged in the process.

“We are so impressed with the students’ professionalism and their keen interest.

“It’s almost hard to believe that ‘we’ are contributing to their real-world experience when they have made this possible for us.”

Grimo Nut Nursery, a company and farm based out of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., since 1974, is best known for selling Canadian hardy nut and fruit trees to backyard growers and nut-tree farmers. Trees for sale from their 14-acre farm include walnut, hazelnut, butternut, chestnut, pawpaw, quince and mulberry, to name just a few. The heartnut is a cultivated variety of the Japanese walnut tree that has been shown to be well-suited to the Great Lakes fruit-growing region. The heartnut is less bitter and has twice the protein and fibre than the English walnut cultivate; it is loaded with antioxidants and is low in cholesterol.

Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division provides real-world solutions for business, key industry sectors and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. We conduct projects that provide innovative solutions, such as producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products or processes for small-and medium-sized businesses. Students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers to assist industry partners leap forward in the marketplace. For more information, visit
Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs, as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses.


Media inquiries, please contact: Susan McConnell
Media Advisor, Niagara College, 905 641-2252 ext. 4330

Niagara College celebrating 50 years of growth and innovation

Top photo (from left to right): Member of Parliament Donald Tolmie, Member of Provincial Parliament Ellis Morningstar, Niagara College board of governors chairperson Ivan Buchanan, Niagara College president George Bowen, Welland Mayor Allan Pietz, and St. Catharines Mayor Mackenzie Chown, officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Mackenzie Building at the Welland campus of Niagara College on October 19, 1968.
Lower photo: Convocation ceremonies for Niagara College’s first graduating class are celebrated on the lawn of the Welland Club in 1968.

When Niagara College (NC) first opened its doors in Welland in September 1967, 450 eager students filed into the pre-engineered building in an otherwise empty field and started their post secondary education in programs ranging from business, to marketing, secretarial and English.

In fact, response was so enthusiastic, NC – known then as a college of ‘applied arts and technology’ – held some classes outside of the building in nice weather on the lawn for a few days until space could be organized.

That was 50 years ago: today Niagara College has grown to incorporate the country’s first teaching winery and brewery; and an international department. The College also boasts a full-time student population of over 10,000 students from over 80 countries, in over 130 programs here in the Niagara region.

One of the most enterprising colleges in Ontario, NC is also a leader in applied research, which helps companies innovate and create new products and processes, and supports economic development locally and beyond.

Niagara College joins many of the province’s 23 other colleges in marking its 50th anniversary this year.

“For us it is all about student success – and that’s been reflected in our rich history,” said NC president Dan Patterson. “We are intricately woven into the fabric of the Niagara community, and this anniversary is a great opportunity to reflect on our past and get excited about the wonderful future in front of us.”

Patterson added, “thanks to the support of our students, the community, our faculty and staff, Niagara College has established itself as a college at the leading edge of educational initiatives and experiential learning.”

The celebration started late last year when NC launched its 50-year anniversary website at Also created was a digital yearbook archive featuring yearbooks from 1968. And, NC unveiled its new official street sign and address at the Welland campus: 100 Niagara College Boulevard (formerly Ring Road).
This year, the celebration continues. Already in the works are:

– The College’s 28th annual Seafood Gala, by the NC’s Foundation, supporting student success, April l;
– Ceremonial tree plantings, spring and fall;
– Celebrate Niagara 50th Anniversary Dinner, by NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, May 6; and,
-50th Anniversary “Start of Something Amazing” Bus Tour, an interactive travelling museum, stopping at NC’s Welland campus, October 4, a joint venture by Colleges Ontario and NC.

William G. Davis Innovation Fund

Part of the province-wide celebrations is the just-announced William G. Davis Innovation Fund, developed in honour of the former Ontario premier and minister of education who paved the way for the establishment of colleges in Ontario. The fund encourages students and college alumni to pitch innovative ideas and compete for prize money. Details for submissions, contest rules and regulations are available at: www.

Davis, dubbed by many as the ‘education premier,’ had close ties to NC: he officiated at the grand opening of the Welland campus in February, 1968.

Niagara College Backgrounder

NC’s Welland campus: Features programs in technology, skilled trades, broadcasting, communications, health, policing and public safety, and automotive. The new Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (2016) is the home of applied research projects.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake campus: Features living labs for environment, horticulture, aquaponics, hospitality and tourism, and business programs, including the first Commercial Beekeeping program in western Canada, with an on-campus apiary. This campus is also home to the Wine Visitor + Education Centre, the NC Teaching Winery (home of 40 acres of vines), the NC Teaching Brewery – part of NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute. This campus also houses teaching enterprises such as the NC greenhouse, the Niagara Waters Spa and Benchmark, all open to the public.

The Niagara Falls campus: Features postsecondary learning programs supporting the hospitality and tourism sector, hairdressing, and entrepreneurship labs.

Media inquiries, contact:

Susan McConnell, Media Advisor, Niagara College
Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 4330

Niagara culinary student wins bronze for Canada at Young Chef Olympiad

A Niagara College student is proving she can take the heat in the kitchen among the world’s top student chefs.

Twenty-three-year-old Selah Schmoll, a second-year Culinary Management student at the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, has won bronze medal and trophy for placing third overall at the Young Chef Olympiad (YCO) in India. The Niagara Falls resident represented Canada at the international competition, which drew more than 60 top student chefs from around the world from January 27 to February 1

“I feel so proud having won bronze at this year’s YCO; it’s such an amazing feeling and a huge accomplishment,” said Schmoll, who also juggles a part-time job in the pastry department at Trius Winery in addition to her studies. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I feel so honoured to represent Canada.”

News of the bronze win was applauded by dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute Craig Youdale.

“Competitions like this are rare when you can put your school’s training up against other programs from around the globe,” said Youdale. “Selah’s success is truly impressive considering she is only beginning her career and this was only her second competition to date.

“Her success is a culmination of all the individuals who have mentored her here at CFWI as well as her work she has been doing at Trius Winery right here in Niagara.”

This was the second culinary competition for Schmoll, who won a silver medal in culinary arts at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition last year.

Schmoll noted that she valued the opportunity to travel to India for the YCO competition.

“I have always wanted to go to India and am so glad to have had the chance to go to a beautiful country full of life and do what I love – cook! I also had the joy of meeting so many other students and mentors from different countries and forming life-long friendships,” she said. “Everything leading up to the competition has benefited my career – coming to training days with a good attitude, having to be organized, learning new skill sets, as well as managing time.”

Schmoll’s accomplishment marked the second consecutive year that a student from Niagara College graced the podium at the Young Chef Olympiad. Last year, the competition was won Daniella Germond – a St. Catharines resident who was then a culinary student at the College as well as a member of Junior Culinary Team Canada.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs, as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses.


For additional information, please visit:

It’s a ‘Schmoll’ world: NC student preps for India’s Young Chef Olympiad

Media inquiries, contact:

Susan McConnell
Media Advisor, Niagara College
905 641-2252 ext. 4330

$500 cash prize to winning team in a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style pitch

Budding entrepreneurs will have their opportunity staring Friday, January 27 to pitch their solution to address global agriculture and food challenges at Niagara College’s Agri-Food Startup Weekend.

Modelled after Google’s well known Startup Weekend, the college’s ncTakeoff program with sponsorship by Meridian will host teams of participants to prepare and present solutions in a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style pitch.

“This event provides a platform where participants from different perspectives – greenhouse tech to computer programming to sales and marketing and beyond – can come together and explore ways to apply their skills,” said ncTakeoff project manager Rachel Crane.

“The Agri-Food Startup Weekend, part of our region’s Meridian Ignite! series strategy, will inspire innovation and entrepreneurial action towards issues that matter.”

Crane said participants can develop their proposed solutions into business models. “The goal is not only to have a great, fun learning experience but also to meet potential co-founders and launch startups,” she added.

The weekend kicks off Friday at NC’s Welland campus with the keynote presentation by award-winning horticulturalist and NC alumni David Pratt. Teams will then be formed to work together throughout the weekend to finally deliver their pitch presentations on Sunday at 2 p.m. The winning team, as selected by a panel of experts (see below), will receive $500 and in-kind services.


Agri-Food Startup Weekend, by ncTakeoff, part of the Meridian (Credit Union) Ignite! series strategy.


Niagara College’s Welland campus, 100 Niagara College Blvd.


Friday, January 27, AH141 Auditorium:
5 p.m. networking.
5:30 p.m. keynote speaker David Pratt.

Saturday, January 28, Various locations, Welland campus:
9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. workshops.

Sunday, January 29, S160 Auditorium:
9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. pitch practice by teams.

2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Pitch presentations (open to the public). Judges: Dean McCall, Entrepreneur in Residence, Pearson Canada; Christine Merrrick, Senior Project Solutions Manager, CMSIntelligence; and Derek Schulze, Professor, School of Environment, NC.


Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs, as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, business, applied health and community safety, all supported by unique learning enterprises and community partnerships.

ncTakeoff is the college’s on-campus entrepreneurship activities program, supported by the Government of Ontario and Ontario Centres of Excellence, to grow student entrepreneurship by reducing barriers for student and recent graduate entrepreneurs; integrating with regional business support resources; and providing experiential opportunities for the next generation of innovators.
Media inquiries, contact:

Susan McConnell
Media Advisor, Niagara College
Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 4330

Exploratory digital lab opens at Niagara College library Jan. 25

An open house of the new Niagara College ‘exploratory digital media lab’ will be held on Wednesday, January 25 at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus library.

Known as ‘The Exploratory,’ the new space features various types of technology, software, and equipment for filming and editing videos, recording audio, designing graphics and creating prototypes with a 3D printer.

The lab may be used for anyone in the NC community to film and edit videos, record and edit audios for lectures and class assignments, experiment with software, design and prototypes or just be creative.

NC library technician Jaclyn Chambers-Page describes the lab as a place to cultivate an atmosphere of entrepreneurial thinking on campus: “think it, design it, 3D print it!”

The Exploratory is located in the library on the second floor (between rooms 202 and 204, next to Tim Hortons). The open house will be held from 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. and will include 3D printer demonstrations.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs, as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses.



Media inquiries, contact:

Susan McConnell
Media Advisor, Niagara College: 905 641-2252 ext. 4330

Niagara College culinary student reps Canada in Young Chef Olympiad event in India

Niagara College’s second year Culinary Management student Selah Schmoll will represent Canada when she competes in the Young Chef Olympiad in India at the end of January.

The life-long resident of Niagara Falls will compete for four days, January 29-February 1, in four rounds of competition with the winner vying for the championship title and top prize of $10,000. The international competition was won last year by NC alumni and chef, Daniella Germond of St Catharines.

Schmoll, 23, won a silver medal in culinary arts at the Ontario Technological Skills competition last year.

Schmoll, who works part-time in the pastry department at Trius Winery and Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake, has been training for the event under the direction of NC chef professor Scott Baechler who will accompany her to the event in India where 60 countries will compete for the prestigious top honour.


For additional information, please visit:
Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs, as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses.

Media inquiries, contact:

Susan McConnell
Media Advisor, Niagara College
905 641-2252 ext. 4330

Niagara College students get their game on for Global Game Jam Jan. 20-22 weekend

Niagara College students, staff and alumni volunteers will log major creative time this weekend when they participate in the annual Global Game Jam (GGJ) at NC’s campus in Welland.

For 48 consecutive hours, gamer participants – students in NC’s Game Development Program and volunteers – will work in teams to design a new video or board game to help inject new ideas into the gaming industry.

The GGJ operates in over 90 countries in local sites where participants form teams to design a new game – the specific theme of which is announced at the start of the jam.

“Global Game Jam encourages innovation, creativity and collaboration,” said Game Development program professor Rick Goertz. “Every participant comes away a ‘winner’ acquiring new knowledge and expertise.”

This is the second year NC has hosted this event and about 40 students are expected to participate. They will be led by NC alumni volunteers. NC has excellent computer labs that will assist participants in putting their skills to this friendly global jam.

NC’s GGJ gets underway on Friday, January 20 at 7 p.m., at the Welland Campus, Labs S304, S306 and S308, and runs until 5 p.m. on Sunday, the 22nd.
Niagara College offers more than 120 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs, as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses.

For additional information on the GGJ:
Media inquiries, contact:

Susan McConnell, Media Advisor, Niagara College 905 641-2252 ext. 4330

SGS Canada Inc. announces partnership with The Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College

SGS Canada Inc. and The Canadian Food & Wine Institute at Niagara College are proud to announce their partnership to offer a risk-focused, tool kit based approach to train in the “HOW TO” of food safety management. The Food Safety Program Optimization (FSPO) is designed to target risk reduction and provide the tools to students to demonstrate true risk-based diligence.

This new partnership is a part of the Canadian Food & Wine Institute’s new continuing education program called Expert Edge.

“This new program focuses on delivering hands-on training led by true industry professionals,” shares Jeffrey Steen, Manager of Corporate Training at Niagara College. “We have a unique proposition to those seeking to take their careers to the next level in the fields of risk management, auditing and supply chains dealing with food, wine and beer.”

Those enrolled in the program will work towards a number of certificates each addressing the needs of the industry and the variety of sector specific needs within that industry (Bakery, Brewing, Foodservice). The program offers a wide variety of courses, small classes, flexible hours and a state-of-the-art campus to deliver an unmatched learning environment ideal for students and working professionals.

“What makes this approach to training so incredibly valuable is that you are taking a leader in academia dealing with food, wine and beer and joining forces with the world’s leading testing, inspection and certification company,” said Rob Sinyard, Vice President of Certification and Business Enhancement at SGS Canada Inc. “We are convinced that we need to prepare students to walk out of the classroom with not just the training to work locally, but provide them with a global perspective to the challenges of feeding a growing world population.”

Niagara College is home to Canada’s first teaching brewery and commercial teaching winery, along with a world-renowned full-service teaching restaurant that focuses on local and seasonal cuisine.

Craig Youdale, Dean of The Canadian Food & Wine Institute summed up the value of these partnerships to the college, “We are shaping the future of the Canadian food industry with corporate partners of this caliber.”

To learn more about the program please visit:

About The Canadian Institute of Food and Wine at Niagara College

Nestled in the heart of southern Ontario’s rich wine and culinary country, Niagara College’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute provides students with valuable hands-on experience and academics in food, innovation, wine and beer. The CFWI, located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, is home to Canada’s first teaching winery, teaching brewery and in 2017, will open Canada’s first teaching distillery. Its renowned teaching restaurant, BenchMark, focuses on local and seasonal cuisine and is open to the public year-round for fine dining.

About SGS Canada

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 85,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,800 offices and laboratories around the world. SGS Canada Inc. is part of this global network, operating in nine business lines with a team of 2000 in 70 locations across the country.


For further information:

Fulvio Martinez, SGS Canada Inc.,;

Susan McConnell, Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College,

Twenty years of community partnership celebrated as Niagara College launches Many Hands at Hotel Dieu

Niagara College and partners Hotel Dieu Shaver Rehabilitation Centre and the Canadian Tire Bank today launched the 20th annual Many Hands project in St. Catharines.

Hotel Dieu was selected as this year’s Many Hands’ recipient in an unique project that uses NC student skills to help the community.

Beginning this month, Hotel Dieu’s facilities will undergo a series of renovations by students in NC’s Construction Renovation Technician program that will see the creation of a physical market place where patients can relearn daily living skills, such as shopping, banking and restaurant dining. The project will be coordinated by NC’s Event Management Graduate Certificate program staff and students, and will cost an estimated $20,000.

“Our patients will benefit from this project as it will give them they skills they need for independent living after a life-impacting health change,” said Jane Rufrano, Hotel Dieu CEO.

A highlight of the project’s launch was the presentation of a cheque in the amount of $7,500 from the Canadian Tire Bank, a 20-year supporter of Many Hands.

In the past five years, NC students have raised $150,000 and given 42,000 hours of volunteer placement to the Niagara community through Many Hands.

“The projects have been an incredible demonstration of community engagement and education,” said Christine Blane, NC professor for the event management program. “Many Hands has helped provide students with the tools required for a successful career.”

– Many Hands requires students to plan, co-ordinate and execute a renovation of a local non-profit community organization, including fundraising, volunteer management, technical operations, hospitality and public relations initiatives. Agencies selected by the Many Hands project committee must be not-for-profit and involved in community-based service in the Niagara region; and be willing to commit agency resources to the project.

– Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre is a specialty healthcare facility that excels in providing rehab, complex care and geriatric services to patients in the Niagara region.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs, as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses.

Media inquiries, please contact:

Susan McConnell
Media Advisor, Niagara College
Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 4330