Category Archives: Research & Innovation

Industry Partner intake ongoing at Research & Innovation

Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is currently offering small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) a way to advance their product development, improve their performance or take an innovative leap forward, thanks to government funding from various sources, and service opportunities available with our Innovation Centres.

We can help solve your innovation challenges related to technology adoption, in the sectors of:

    • • advanced manufacturing
    • • food and beverage
    • • agriculture/greenhouse and environmental technologies
    • • business & commercialization

The Niagara College team of expert faculty, students and researchers from our Innovation Centres will work with businesses to access resources to address technology and innovation challenges. As a result of this partnership opportunity, industry partners will:

    • • develop new prototypes, products, processes
    • • explore shelf-life extension
    • • enhance greenhouse operations
    • • test results that validate their products and services
    • • advance horticultural practices
    • • improve manufacturing production process
    • • bring their products closer to market
    • • gain market research, marketing plans and/or social media plans

In some cases, where government funding is involved, companies accessing these resources at Niagara College will be required to match those funds, at least 1:1, with a combination of cash and in-kind. In some cases, there is the possibility of fee for service opportunities, usually involving a short turn-around in a project outcome, but where the cost of the project is borne entirely by the industry partner.

In all cases, the intellectual property developed during the project belongs to the industry partner.

For more information, visit our Centres, linked below:

When you are ready for a conversation on next steps, please reach out to Elizabeth Best, Business Development Coordinator, at [email protected].

Computer grad “grows” as developer in new career

Michael Gall is a 2019 graduate of Niagara College’s Computer Programmer/Analyst (Co-op) program. He spent a year with the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre, with Research & Innovation, first as a research assistant and then a research associate. Michael started in March 2020 at Rentsync in St. Catharines as a software developer.

Tell us about where you work:

I work at Rentsync (formerly Landlord Web Solutions) in St. Catharines, Ont. They provide a wide variety of services to the housing rental industry, mostly in the form of marketing and data tracking tools. Some examples of these would be creating websites and providing ad syndication for property management companies, to distribute ads out to listing platforms (like Kijiji or PadMapper) without the client needing to individually manage each ad posting.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

My current position is a software developer on the “Feeds & Integrations” team. I work primarily with importing, managing, and exporting property data for clients. I work first-hand with clients and their developers in creating a plan to bring in their property data, and then use available tooling or create custom solutions for formatting. For the most part, I am using website scrapers, direct XML or JSON feeds, and REST API responses to gather this data. The team is a rather new addition to the company, so I really love the freedom I have, to plan and use technologies as I see fit. This has offered me great room to grow as a developer by learning new technologies, while also letting me implement things that I’m already comfortable with, that I learned while I was at Research & Innovation.

How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?

My experience at R&I, specifically in AETIC, really gave me the ability to pick up new technologies and understand them in a fast-paced environment. When I started at R&I, I went in with very little web development experience, and ended up learning a whole slew of modern technologies. Being comfortable with learning and researching translates well to this current job I have, as it has been all about learning since I started. 

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?

I worked on a web portal for farm data [Niagara College Crop Portal], that was used to display point-by-point variables of soil. This project was quite memorable because I learned so much about geographic information systems (GIS mapping specifically) as well as the math and science behind the growth of plants. It was all about learning how to apply a scientific formula, then creating a user interface. Not only was it nice to learn how a data scientist views data and how they calculate it, it also helped imagining how the eventual end user would use that product as well. 

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

I was led to Niagara College after high school as I was undecided if I wanted to pursue Mechanical Engineering or if I wanted to study Computer Science. Niagara College was recommended to me by a friend who was a recent graduate (Matthew Felice) who said it offers a lot of hands-on experience. This led me to taking my Computer Programmer/Analyst program.

Most memorable experience at NC?

The most memorable experience was seeing that a drag-and-drop designer was available in Visual Studio in my first year of programming courses. My mind was blown learning that the websites and applications I use could have been pieced together by someone dragging and dropping buttons, text boxes, and check boxes.

“When I started at Research & Innovation, I went in with very little web development experience, and ended up learning a whole slew of modern technologies.”

A faculty member who influenced you?

There were plenty of faculty members who really influenced me. Peter Vanscoy [professor, Computer Programming] gave a great introduction to programming for me as he was my first-year, first-semester teacher. Marsha Baddeley [professor, Computer Programming] and Dave Kendall [professor, Computer Programming] stick out to me as the professors who probably had the most impact on me due to them working with me through our community sponsored projects. I remember having so many “A-HA!” moments when talking with them where the solutions I was working on finally made sense. Oh! And I do want to toss a shout-out to Melissa Vanderlely [professor, Computer Programming] in there for causing me to draw an interest in getting my Bachelor’s degree with her teaching of advanced programming techniques in my third year.

A mentor at R&I?

During my co-op at R&I, Alex Davis was the senior research associate [AETIC] I worked under, and was incredibly helpful when it came to learning the technologies we used there. Angular (a JavaScript framework) is notoriously difficult to pick up for students, and he helped me turn around to being productive in less than a month. As I progressed more and more, I worked closely with Shubham Kumar [former senior research associate, AETIC] and Sarah Lepp, [former senior research associate, AETIC] who were mentors for the topic of GIS. They took me from zero knowledge about geography, to knowing how to project points onto a map, and calculate if hazelnuts would grow at that point!

What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?

Software development involves a lot of programming, and it’s important to learn the tools available to you inside of certain languages for you to tackle issues, but this shouldn’t be the only focus. As developers, we’re paid to be problem solvers, not to write the most trendy, or least lines of code solution. We are paid simply to solve the problem as best as we can. Try to focus on broadening your own mental toolkit, and don’t tie yourself down to a language. 

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

I’ve learned that clients will do everything in their power to break something. The code that I write has to be impervious to people cramming numbers into where words should go, deleting random things, using an incredibly old computer, you name it! Work showed me that validation and security are equally as important as writing the code to solve the issue. I used to think “Well, no one’s ever going to put a picture in the box labelled ‘Please don’t put a picture here’” but they definitely will, without fail. 

Proudest achievement since graduating?

In terms of schooling, I was accepted to Brock University for a Bachelor’s of Computer Science program! And in terms of work, at Rentsync I’ve already onboarded my first co-worker to my team and have taken on a “mentor” role for them.

Interests outside of work?

I usually like playing video games, analysing data, cooking, and playing with my new kitten! 

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?

We made it to today – we can make it to tomorrow.

Anything else you want to say?

Stay safe during this pandemic everyone, and get used to remote work because I have a funny feeling it’s going to be sticking around!

Announcing new roles at Research & Innovation

This past month has brought a number of exciting changes within Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division in the form of new roles and expanded portfolios for three senior members of the administration team.


Marc Nantel, PhD

Marc Nantel, PhD, has been named Niagara College’s vice-president, Research & External Relations. In addition to his ongoing leadership of the Research & Innovation division, Marc is now in charge of the following divisions: Planning and Institutional Research, Development and Alumni Relations, and Government and Community Relations.

He also assumed the role of president of the Niagara College Learning Enterprises Corporation (NCLEC), which includes overseeing the operations and strategic direction for the Niagara College Teaching Winery, Teaching Brewery, Teaching Cidery, Teaching Distillery, and Cannabis Institute.

Marc joined the College in 2011, after serving on the Board of Governors (2006-11), and drawing on his background in physics to helped establish the Photonics program in 1999 – 2009 at the Welland Campus. He spent almost eight years as associate vice-president, Research & Innovation and, most recently, vice-president, Research, Innovation & Strategic Initiatives.

Krystle Grimaldi



Krystle Grimaldi moves to the role of director, Research & Innovation, to take on leadership of the day-to-day operational performance and internal processes, including administration and project management of all research activities. Since coming onboard the R&I team in 2010, Krystle has held a number of management positions, most recently as associate director, Research & Innovation.




Carolyn Mullin


Carolyn Mullin is named associate director, Strategic Partnerships, a position that, in addition to her business development and research-based communications role, expands her responsibilities to include overseeing grant development; and for developing external partnerships and networking opportunities for the division, including the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) and the Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN).

Joining NC in 2012, Carolyn held the position of Dissemination and Outreach manager, and more recently, manager, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships.


“Certainly, this is happening at an interesting time, and I look forward to bringing my experience to this portfolio and learning a whole lot along the way,” says Marc. “To support this growth and diversification in my responsibilities, I’m very happy to be able to count on Krystle’s leadership and management acumen, and Carolyn’s deep experience in all things external.”

Krystle points to the team effort that earned Niagara College being tops in the country for research funding. According to Research Infosource Inc.’s 2019 report, the College was named No. 1 research college, making it the fifth year of being in the Top 10.

“I have great confidence in the team to achieve many more successes and I look forward to working with this talented group as we take on more industry projects and train more students,” says Krystle.

“Likewise, I’m proud of how far our division has come in the past few years, and of the beneficial partnerships we have built with industry. We are poised to keep growing, and I have the privilege of being able to share those successes with this accomplished team, and helping build even more great relationships with strategic partners in Niagara and beyond,” adds Carolyn.


The Research & Innovation division provides real-world solutions for business, key industry sectors, and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. Researchers 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 and community partners. With funding support from various regional, provincial and federal agencies, students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers to assist industry and community partners leap forward in the marketplace.

POSITION AVAILABLE: Electronics Research Assistant position available with our Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

Electronics Engineering Research Assistant, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

The Electronics Engineering Technology Research Assistant will have a comprehensive skill set to work with Research Leads, Research Project Manager, and Industry Partners in the development of electronic systems. The Research Assistant will report to the Research Project Manager. Some duties will include assisting in the design, building and testing of electronics systems, troubleshooting and improving the developed circuits and systems and implementing robotic-based platforms (i.e. Arduino and Raspberry Pi) and related software.

Click HERE for the full job posting. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, September 30th at 12pm.

To apply, please email your resume, cover letter, class schedule and transcript to [email protected] and reference posting ‘WAMIC20-04’ in the subject line.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

POSITION AVAILABLE: Computer Programmer Research Assistant position available with our Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

Computer Programmer Research Assistant, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

The successful candidate will work with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team. The work includes programming, testing and troubleshooting of interface software for product development of advanced manufacturing research projects. The position could involve development of web/cloud/IoT services, and helping to develop cloud technology. You will work with senior team members in Advanced Manufacturing developing new products which require support in programming of Industry 4.0 applications.

Click HERE to see the full job posting. The deadline to apply is Friday, September 25th, 2020 at 12pm.

To apply, please email your resume, cover letter, class schedule and transcript to [email protected], and reference job posting ‘COMPUTER PROGRAMMER RESEARCH ASSISTANT (WAMIC)’ in the subject line.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

POSITION AVAILABLE: Electrical Engineering Assistant position available with our Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

Electrical Engineering Assistant, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

The Electrical Engineering Research Assistant will have a comprehensive skill set to work with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team, Research Leads and Industry Partners on a variety of time-sensitive projects.

Some duties include:
• Develop solutions for specific industry-partnered applied research and technical service activities
• Identify electrical considerations when planning research/technical services activities
Propose design modifications and monitor product to improve on future design
Provide logistic support for electrical engineering projects
Attend planning or project-specific meetings as required and takes and prepares minutes
Represent the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at college activities & external events

Click HERE to see the full job posting. The deadline to apply is Friday, September 25th, 2020 at 12pm.

To apply, please email your resume, cover letter, class schedule and transcript to [email protected], and reference job posting ‘WAMIC20_03’ in the subject line.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.