Selkirk College Takes Technology Access to the Next Level

Building on the foundation of rural-based innovation in the region, Selkirk College is taking the lead at a Kootenay technology hub.

Supported by funding from the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Selkirk Technology Access Centre (STAC) in Trail offers a suite of services designed to build the competitiveness of advanced manufacturing and materials companies in the Kootenay region. Started as the MIDAS-Lab in 2015 by the Kootenay Association of Science & Technology, Selkirk College has supported the centre from the beginning and now takes the reins for a new chapter.

“Built on community partnerships, there has been so much amazing and brilliant work done in this area over the last few years,” says Jason Taylor, the STAC Chair and Applied Research Lead. “The STAC will continue to be driven by industry need to help support research and development for companies in rural British Columbia. We are pleased to help compliment the range of training and business supports already available while we take what is offered to a new level.”

The Trail-based centre enables the development of commercially viable products/services and optimization of business processes resulting in decreased costs, increased efficiencies and enhanced productivity for industry clients. Technical expertise and specialized equipment is used to advance product design and development, 3D printing and rapid prototyping, 3D scanning and reverse engineering, metrology, customized advanced technology training, and referrals to existing business services in the region. Future plans include material characterization, fitness for service testing, forensic engineering, and materials research and development.

Key Component of Strategic Plan

STAC is an important part of the college’s strategic directions under community development with a focus on collaboration. The hub model is designed to link with community assets, and existing and future college programming. In Trail, the new Digital Fabrication & Design Program will bring students and faculty to the centre as it develops the education, skills and training for the future. The Selkirk College Applied Research & Innovation Centre in Castlegar will be involved through engineering and computer science programming. Nelson’s Silver King Campus will be involved through its School of Industry & Trades Training.

“Selkirk College is an innovation leader for rural community colleges and STAC is a vital contributor,” says Taylor, who has been teaching and developing programming at the college since 1998. “The possibilities in this field are endless, we are excited to see where it will take both the college and the region in the coming years. We are pleased to be partnering with the Federal Government to help provide accelerated innovation and technology transfer as we ensure the region has access to 21st Century workforce that will provide a competitive advantage.”

The STAC received $1.75 million in NSERC funding as part of the College & Community Innovation Program. In May, the Federal Government announced that Selkirk College was part of more than a dozen new technology access centres across the country. This is in addition to the $2 million in federal funding secured last year to support productivity and innovation in advanced manufacturing companies.

“The 13 new centres strengthen the already impressive capability and capacity of the Tech-Access Canada network,” says David Berthiaume, Chair of Tech-Access Canada's Board of Directors. “We look forward to sharing best practices and assisting them to hit the ground running to rapidly solve the innovation challenges of industry partners in their regions.”

In total, there are 60 technology access centres funded across Canada that focus on strengthening the industrial sector of significance to each region. The demand-driven centres help Canadian businesses—especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—get their products, processes and services market-ready by offering objective advice and specialized technical services, providing training related to new types of equipment and processes, and conducting applied research and development projects focused on company problems.

Original article from Selkirk College