Tour of new innovation centre for Chamber members provides birds-eye view of new labs

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Nathaniel Landry, Mechanical Engineering Technician student and research assistant at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Niagara College, demonstrates the ‘Faro Arm’ – a 3D measuring machine - in one of the new innovation labs during a tour of Chambers of Commerce from the Niagara region.

Niagara College welcomes members of the Chambers of Commerce boards from Greater Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Port Colborne/Wainfleet and Welland/Pelham, and the Greater Thorold Business Council on February 6.

When innovators meet savvy business people, there are no bounds to what may develop in the future.

Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre threw open its new doors on February 6 to welcome 20 of Niagara region’s top business movers and shakers – members of the Chambers of Commerce boards for Greater Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Port Colborne/Wainfleet and Welland/Pelham, and the Greater Thorold Business Council.

Toured through the new innovation centre by NC’s president Dan Patterson, external affairs vice-president Greg Medulun and NC’s research and innovation’s Jim Lambert and Carolyn Mullin, Commerce board members were introduced to a facility that boasts many commercial successes with local businesses, and is in the midst of creating more.

NC’s innovation centre features new state-of-the-art facility has 15,000 square feet of innovation space and the latest equipment, expertise and services available, including 3D printing, laser scanning and reverse engineering product development. Most of all it has bright, eager students and dedicated and skilled faculty, all partnering with SMEs in the Niagara region.

As Patterson pointed out, “this region is an economic development hub and leading manufacturing community with activities in many sectors. At Niagara College we have made research and innovation a key priority – we are able to help local companies innovate and we are enhancing our students’ education by providing real world work opportunities.”

Tour participants learned that the innovation centre’s goals including bringing advanced manufacturing technologies to industry in Niagara to make them more profitable; to provide students with work experience (including through cooperative placements with host businesses and industries); and to continue to cultivate strong partnerships in the tech industry.

The innovation centre, built through the support of NC’s capital campaign ‘Achieving Dreams’ and through the generous support of the Walker family and its company, Walker Industries Holdings Limited, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada, will open officially this year.

For the sneak preview of the new centre, Chamber members saw several demonstrations by students and research staff in the new innovation labs.

Said Dolores Fabiano, Chamber executive director, “the opportunity for my respective Board members to come to the college to hear and see what actually goes on behind these walls was excellent.

“The fact that our college is providing state-of-the-art technology to not only their students, but to our local businesses is an incredible asset. Representing over 2,000 businesses in Niagara, we see the value of ensuring all of our members are well aware of the many opportunities that Niagara College offers. It was a morning well spent!”

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