Category Archives: Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

WAMIC free webinar series kicks off Feb. 25th

These days, we are working harder in the midst of continued uncertain times.
Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre is introducing a new educational webinar series – LEAD TIME to provide information on how you can introduce Industry 4.0 technologies to help your company work smarter, not harder.

The first session:
Thurs., February 25: Metrology Trends in an Industry 4.0 World, features presenter Rob Johnston with CAD Microsolutions.

The second session:
Thurs., March 11: Overcoming Manufacturing Challenges with 3D Printing, features presenter Bryan Sprange with Javelin Technologies.


Learn more about our upcoming sessions:



R&I engineering grad lands dream job

Daniela Cortes is a 2018 graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technician program and was a Research Assistant – Process Improvement for Research & Innovation’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) for 18 months. She also graduated from NC’s Business – Sales and Marketing program in 2015. Daniela is now a Global Applications & Technical Sales Representative at Factory Surplus Direct (FSD) Inc.

Tell us about where you work:

FSD Robotics is a global supplier for automation and robotics parts and service. We supply automotive manufacturers as well as general industry. Our capabilities include cable harness repair labs for robotic harnesses, Servo Motor repair labs, electronics repair labs, and repairs/refurbishment of industrial equipment.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

My role involves working with our clients on a day-to-day basis ensuring their production lines are being supported and reaching out to manufacturers to provide service and support. I help mobilize resources and source parts for their automated processes and robotic lines, assist with integration projects through cell design and perform reach studies with RoboDK (an offline programing software). I also work with our technicians to ensure all repairs and projects are completed and delivered as quickly as possible.

One of my favourite projects was an integration project for a paint recycling company. This was a unique project as we had to reverse engineer the EOAT (End of Arm Tooling). The project consisted of two robotic lines that pick up and clean out paint cans to recycle the leftover paint.

My involvement included assessing the facility and providing a cell layout that worked within their available space. I used 2D CAD to design the cell layout, which I then translated into RoboDK to generate the 3D layout of the cell. We performed reach studies to ensure that the positioning of the robot would work within the robot’s reach without interference with the other cell components, including the conveyors, recycle bins and the can crusher. What I enjoyed about this project was working with a small local manufacturer and helping them improve their productivity with their new robotics lines. They were very happy with their cells and even named the two robots!

“I was so scared to go into the mechanical engineering program and it was very challenging for me. Now looking back, I am so grateful I stepped out of my comfort zone and accepted this challenge.”

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

My role at WAMIC was to perform productivity assessments with local manufacturers. Automation was a big part of improving processes to increase their efficiency, reduce waste and increase their output. Now that I work for FSD I bring that experience to help many manufacturing companies automate their process so they can become more productive and competitive.

I also had the opportunity to bring WAMIC on board as a partner at FSD to help us improve even our own process in our cable labs. I was able to work with my project lead once again after working with her when I was at Research & Innovation.

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

Every project I was able to work on was very exciting, and they were all unique and different from each other. One that really stands out for me is performing a productivity assessment for a frozen pie manufacturer. We performed time studies, assessed their processes, and provided recommendations to improve, including automating some of their cells.

I remember going in there and smelling the meat pies every morning while I was doing the time studies. I will definitely never forget that smell, but more importantly, I can never forget how much we were able to help them in terms of waste reduction and overall productivity. They were very pleased with everything we did for them.

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

Niagara College was where I had set my sights on since my father, as well as my sister, both attended Niagara College. I originally graduated from the Business – Sales and Marketing program and upon completion, I went into Mechanical Engineering.

Most memorable experience at NC?

Having the opportunity to share my story in front of all the Niagara College staff for Niagara Day. What an honour! And I was also able to speak at the inauguration of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre when we opened our new facility back in 2017. That was amazing! What an experience. But overall, working at R&I was an incredible experience and one that carries with me today. I am still working with R&I through my company and it is so cool to see it all come back around. I feel so lucky to have R&I be such a huge part of my professional growth.

Daniela Cortes talks about her engineering journey at the 2017 grand opening of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Niagara College’s Welland campus.

Is there a particular mentor at either R&I or a faculty member who influenced you?

Influential members: Angela Narr [Research Lead, R&I]; Rick Baldin [Research Lead and Professor]; Gord Koslowski [former WAMIC Project Manager] and Jim Lambert [former WAMIC Centre Manager]. 

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

The main advice I can give is to take on any challenge, as it will help you grow! Fear holds us back from reaching our potential. I was so scared to go into the mechanical engineering program and it was very challenging for me. Now looking back, I am so grateful I stepped out of my comfort zone and accepted this challenge. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I let the fear of the unknown stop me from entering this program.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

I learned to be persistent, to not be scared to ask questions and to not be afraid to say I don’t know something. I learned to keep my network open and utilize resources I’ve collected throughout the years – especially staying in touch with people I have worked with. I also learned the value of my volunteer work because I met so many people hosting National Engineering Month (NEM) events, attending Niagara College ceremonies and putting myself out there!

Proudest achievement since graduating?

Obtaining my current position at FSD Robotics. I love my job and I am so proud to work for such an amazing company.

Interests outside of work?

Outside of work I enjoy working out and staying healthy. I host promotional events (well prior to Covid anyways). I love to dance and pick up part-time modelling jobs. I also enjoy spending time with my family. My boyfriend has a nine-year-old son and I love my time with them so much. I still have my sweet Django (my cat) and he has grown on them as well. 

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

No one will remember what you didn’t do!

Mechanical engineering student pursues path at R&I

Scott Leuty had his first real experience with using design and manufacturing processes when he joined his high school robotics team. His crew had to design and build a remote-controlled robot to complete various tasks in the style of a competitive game.

He was hooked.

His team entered tournaments in places like Myrtle Beach, S.C., and North Bay, Ont. and competed against teams from around the world.

“This experience sparked my interest in mechanical engineering and inspired me to pursue this path as my field of study.”

Now in his fourth year of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology (Co-op) program, Leuty is currently a research assistant at Research & Innovation’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC).

When he arrived for his final co-op placement at WAMIC in October 2020, Leuty’s first task was to help complete the 37,000 face shields the research team had worked on since the start of the pandemic to help local health-care workers as well as community groups throughout Ontario.

Since then, Leuty has worked at the research labs in areas such as metrology and 3D modelling. In his most recent project, he has worked on reverse engineering a large medical apparatus. After dismantling and measuring the dimensions of each item, he 3D modelled every piece and created engineering drawings and assemblies to illustrate and exhibit the designs.

“So far, I have found my experience at WAMIC to be very positive in regard to what I have learned about SolidWorks, the process of reverse-engineering and the use of advanced metrology equipment,” says Leuty. “I am also appreciative of the opportunity I had to aid the healthcare community by assembling and packaging face shields, and by modeling the medical apparatus, which will eventually be put into production.”

He has also learned a lesson he’ll carry into all aspects of his life: expect and accept the fact mistakes will happen.

“This experience sparked my interest in mechanical engineering and inspired me to pursue this path as my field of study.”

“It can be discouraging, but what’s important is how you respond to your mistakes,” he explains. “If you’ve done something wrong, think about what you could’ve done differently. Avoid making the mistake again and take it as a learning experience.”

Having been interested in design his entire life, Leuty says he has always wanted to work in a related field. After learning 3D modelling with Autodesk Inventor at Niagara College, he completed an eight-month work term as a product engineering co-op student at THK Rhythm Automotive in St. Catharines. There he learned CATIA (computer-aided design software) and managed multiple projects assigned by product engineers.

Once he graduates this April, Leuty plans to continue his education at university and obtain a professional engineering license.

Leuty lives with his family in Terra Cotta, a small hamlet in Caledon, Ont., known for great hiking trails located on the banks of the Credit River.

Though considered by his friends as the quiet sort, Leuty takes pleasure in cranking his amp loud while playing his electric guitar – something he has been self-teaching himself for the past three years. He’s currently working on Spanish Fly, an iconic solo by the late Eddie Van Halen.

Between guitar riffing and practising engineering design, Leuty enjoys trading stocks, binging Netflix shows and gaming with his friends.

R&I project manager joins NC Taskforce

Amal Driouich, research project manager with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) was recently named to Niagara College’s Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce.

Promoting equity and fighting against injustice and racism has always been one of Amal Driouich’s personal and professional priorities.

The research project manager with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) was recently named to Niagara College’s Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce. The Taskforce is a partnership between NC and the Niagara College Student Administrative Council (NCSAC), with the aim to support a commitment to creating a more inclusive, diverse, and culturally and globally engaged college community.

“I believe that a lot of different flowers make a bouquet, and I am honoured to have been selected to be part of Niagara College’s Diversity and Inclusion taskforce,” says Driouich.

Members of the Taskforce include both NC students and employees who will work together to research and write a blueprint that will identify the College’s goals for inclusion and diversity, and the broad actions that are required to meet these goals over the next three years. This blueprint will be presented to NC’s Executive Team and will be an important input into the College’s next strategic plan to ensure that this essential work is part of NC’s long-term vision.

“What I like most about this initiative is the fact that it brings students and employees together to shape a more equitable, diverse and inclusive college community,” she says.

Driouich has been with the Research & Innovation division since 2019, overseeing the R&D needs of Niagara’s SMEs (small- and medium-sized businesses), managing a wide range of applied research projects and bringing together faculty, staff, students, and industry partners.

She holds a MSc in Mechanical Engineering from Laval University, has her Project Management Professional (PMP) designation, and is fluent in Arabic, French, and English. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Women in Nuclear Canada, Golden Horseshoe West chapter, and is chair-elect for the second time for the Toronto chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, after serving as chair last year.

For more information about the Taskforce and how to get involved please visit:

Origin International and WAMIC collaborate to deliver world-leading inspection analysis

Mankirat Singh (seated), WAMIC research assistant and a student from NC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program, works with research lead Allan Spence, PhD, to review a CheckMate inspection program before execution on the Mitutoyo CMM.

Research & Innovation’s leading-edge dimensional metrology equipment has received a performance upgrade thanks to a partnership with a global inspection analysis software leader.

Origin International Inc. (OII) and Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) are collaborating to bring additional capabilities to the Centre’s research and technical services repertoire.

Ontario-based Origin is the world leader in SOLIDWORKS-based touch probe and laser digitizer inspection programming and analysis software. Origin’s CheckMate software is an add-in for SOLIDWORKS, the leading CAD software in the manufacturing supply chain. CheckMate provides extensive functionality for coordinate measuring machine (CMM) programming applications.

Origin will work with the WAMIC research team to support inspection programming and analysis.

The new Origin software supports both WAMIC’s recently-acquired Mitutoyo/Renishaw CMM and the research laboratory’s FARO ScanArm laser digitizer.

“Working with Origin will enable us to develop a wide range of state-of-the-art design and manufacturing solutions,” notes WAMIC research lead Allan Spence, PhD.

“The pace of manufacturing is picking up worldwide and it’s vital for Ontario manufacturers to keep up. It’s a technology challenge and a skills challenge,” says Origin global business development director Geoff Foulds.

“Origin’s collaboration with WAMIC will help deliver the insights and services southern Ontario manufacturers need,” says Foulds, adding the collaboration will also provide Origin with the ready lab access it needs to keep its solutions on the cutting edge.

“Origin’s collaboration with WAMIC will help deliver the insights and services southern Ontario manufacturers need.”
~ Geoff Foulds, Origin global business development director

In July 2020, the new CMM was installed in the Welland campus labs at Niagara College. The CMM is considered the most precise measuring technology on the spectrum.

It is the “gold standard, to which other instruments can be calibrated against, and will provide enhanced confidence to industry partners that our measurement services meet expectations,” says Spence.

The advanced precision measurement instrument, along with the new CheckMate software is good news for advanced manufacturing companies requiring high-accuracy micrometre-scale dimensional metrology.

Factories, for example, with worn or broken rotating machinery parts require measurements, but often the components can be decades old, with no CAD drawings available, notes Spence, whose background is in the science of measurement, and has an established reputation in Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T).

The CMM – acquired thanks to funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through its Applied Research Tools and Instruments (ARTI) grants program – has added to WAMIC’s current leading-edge dimensional metrology equipment, such as its laser triangulation and distance technology, including the FARO Focus, FARO Tracker and FARO Scan Arm.

To learn more about the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, its resources, capabilities and the types of research projects we undertake, visit the website.


WAMIC team performs 3D dimensional analysis inspections for aerospace firm

Research laboratory technologist Brock Husak on-site at aerospace company Fleet Canada with WAMIC’s FARO Vantage Laser Tracker performing tolerance inspections on an aircraft jig.

There is no compromising quality within the aerospace industry. Naturally, every part and assembly demands reliable precision, with no room for error.

Local aerospace stalwart Fleet Canada Inc. has major clients on its roster, including Boeing, Viking Air and Bombardier. Like most manufacturers, the Fort Erie company utilizes jigs and fixtures to maximize production efficiency and increase reliable accuracy and quality. (A jig is a tool that supports and guides the workpiece being machined and a fixture holds the part during the assembly process.)

These customers require recurrent certification that the assembly jigs for their components are still compliant to a specified tolerance.

“Periodic surveillance inspection reports are required by our customers on a yearly basis for all assembly jigs,” says Fleet’s Lewy Ruegg, senior program manager and former tooling/quality inspector there.

“Each jig has tooling holes in various positions around the jig that have X,Y,Z coordinates assigned to them that matches the aircraft,” says Ruegg.

The tolerances of assembly jigs are usually plus or minus five to 10 thousands of an inch (0.0005″ to 0.010″).  As reference, the average thickness of a strand of hair is four thousands of an inch (0.004″)

Owning the state-of-the-market portable coordinate measuring machines (CMM) with specialized laser capabilities and software to perform the required inspections in-house is not always ideal for many companies. For Fleet, they have relied on the advanced inspection services from Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division and its mobile laser tracker since 2015.

Once on-site, experts from the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) use their FARO Vantage Laser Tracker to perform inspection measurements of the aircraft assembly jigs. The laser technology works in conjunction with PolyWorks|InspectorTM, a universal 3D dimensional analysis and quality control software.

Researchers take precise 3D measurements of a multitude of critical features (or points) on a given assembly jig with reference to the local coordinate system of the jig and apply specification tolerances to the collected values, explains Dave McKechnie, WAMIC research laboratory technologist.

“We can produce a table-style report clearly displaying a PASS/FAIL condition as well as numeric X, Y, Z coordinate data for each point on the inspection point list,” McKechnie says, adding that the inspection point list is supplied to Fleet by the aircraft manufacturer.

“Using the laser tracker, which we do not possess at this time, Niagara College captures all of these points and then they are compared to the supplied “nominal” values. If points are out of tolerance, then they are reworked as required,” explains Ruegg. “Customers are able to monitor their assembly jigs and if they want any modifications made, they know what the tooling is providing.”

Ruegg says that during the last few years inspections were completed on seven aircraft assembly jigs, but prior to that there were about 20 jigs that needed inspection reports each year.

“Niagara College has done a great job with being able to meet our schedules and have always been very professional,” says Ruegg. “We have had great service from all involved over the years.”

The FARO laser tracker has a variety of applications and the WAMIC team has used it with multiple industry partners for jig/machine/part inspection, machine or construction levelling, adds McKechnie.

The field scanning with laser tracker inspection is just one of many of the technical services with state-of-the-market equipment at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC). To see more capabilities and equipment, see the website.