University R&D bridges private-sector investment gap

A $2 million clean room at the University of Windsor is just one of many private-public partnerships

June 22, 2011   by Matt Powell

WINDSOR—The Ontario government has invested $2 million to build a clean-room to study aerospace engineering and manufacturing at the University of Windsor’s Centre for Engineering Innovation.

“The clean room gives students a chance to present their best ideas and test them out in a centre designed to incorporate academia and industry,” says Alan Wildeman, president of the University of Windsor.

The clean room is necessary for aerospace research because of stringent requirements for working with aerospace electronics and machining. Its atmosphere control system regulates temperature, humidity and level of contaminants to four particles per cubic metre to meet ISO 2 standards.

Wildeman says the investment gives the engineering program at Windsor the capacity it needs to create a new aerospace program.

Canada’s aerospace industry has shown a great interest in the south-western Ontario town, given Windsor’s history of manufacturing in the automotive sector, he adds.

Wildeman says it’s increasingly important for Canada to provide great education opportunities for young people and help them come up with innovative ideas for industry. If not, we’re going to find ourselves in a weak position in the long run.

Given Canadian industry’s history of reluctance of investing in in-house R&D, Wildeman says bridging academia and industry will provide solutions for Canadian companies with tight budgets.

“Industry hasn’t put enough into R&D in Canada and that has been recognized,” he says. “Both provincial and federal governments are consciously making efforts to create programs that support R&D and help break down the academia versus industry gap to create capacity that will encourage more industries to get involved with university research programs.”

Windsor’s new clean room, however, isn’t the only recent Canadian industry and academic research partnership.

In Ottawa, Huawei, TELUS and Carleton University signed a $1.4 million deal to establish a research lab to enterprise cloud services.

The Huawei-TELUS Innovation Centre for Enterprise Cloud Services gives students, faculty and industry a place to research issues associated with cloud computing, such as security and performance problems.

General Motors also opened the General Motors of Canada Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), where students test a full range of automotive technlogy in one of the world’s largest wind tunnels.

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