Category Archives: Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Research assistant builds on knowledge

Ba Binh Luong (pictured) at his workstation and Niagara College

When telecommunications engineer Ba Binh Luong wants to take a break and de-stress from his daily tasks of computer programming, developing software and creating wireless protocols, he turns his attention to researching a diverse range of topics – just for fun.

His curiosity leads him to explore new technologies, big data, cryptocurrency, geography and law. And what is sitting on his nightstand? Introduction to Algorithms, Third Edition, MIT Press.

“I know it is a weird relaxation method, but it is how I unwind my head.”

Luong started with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) in November 2020 as a computer programming research assistant. A Niagara College graduate (2021) of Computer Programming, he’s now enrolled in the Industrial Automation program – a one-year graduate certificate – at NC for this fall.

Prior to arriving in Canada to begin his studies, the 33-year-old spent eight years as a telecommunications engineer for Viettel Network, Vietnam’s largest telecommunications company. This after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering at the Post and Telecommunications Institute of Technology, a university based in his home country of Vietnam. He also specialized in physics at a high school for gifted students. 

While he had a “good career” in Vietnam, he wanted to widen his knowledge in a complementary field and to also lay the groundwork for his goal of obtaining a Master’s degree in computer science.

“All IoT devices have to have software to process data and protocol, and what I have learned in the programming field can help me develop the application for it,” explains Luong. “The evolution of Industry 4.0 and the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has changed our world. The core of it all is based on software development, speed of information transmission and big data processing.”

At WAMIC, Luong is receiving real-world experience working on projects for industry partners, including IoT projects, developing software and web services to support device-to-device connection.

“I had the chance to develop embedded software for a microcontroller, a mobile application for smartphones, and conduct research about the protocol for interacting with and controlling electronic devices.”

Currently, he’s working on a project to develop a mobile application for the remote control of a set of wireless IoT devices which are geographically dispersed.

“WAMIC is a great place to apply my knowledge in the real world. Engaging in the workforce definitely helps me to immerse and improve my technical knowledge.”

“I’m working to develop both the mobile application and Web API (Application Protocol Interface) on a server site,” he says, adding that the project interests him because it involves not just software development but also hardware, electrical circuits and IoT.

“WAMIC is a great place to apply my knowledge in the real world. Engaging in the workforce definitely helps me to immerse and improve my technical knowledge,” he says. “I also appreciate all the time I share with the team on my present project.”

One of Luong’s biggest hurdles in making Canada home, he says, has been learning the English language. He spent two years of serious study to reach the standard to apply for a study permit to come to this country and upon arrival he was required to take an eight-month EAP (English for Academic Purposes) program to enhance his skills.

“I have problems with pronunciation and accent, which results in many embarrassing situations,” he says with a laugh. “It is hard to express my ideas or feelings in English, and not everyone has the patience to communicate with me.”

His other challenge has been the restriction to visiting his family (parents and two siblings) back in Vietnam. His plans to visit in July 2020 were thwarted by the global pandemic restrictions.

That said, Luong is accustomed to not seeing his family much over the years. Being from a small rural village, he has had to move away on his own for education in larger cities since the age of 16 – visiting his family only twice a year.

“Thanks to technology, I can make video calls to my family at home and keep in touch closely.”

Meanwhile, he takes pleasure in sharing outdoor activities, like jogging, with his fiancé.

“I enjoy Canada’s natural beauty and have many stories to share with my fiancé when we are out,” he adds. “I believe that jogging has to turn into a habit. It’s not only good for my health but also creates a bond between me and my girl.”

Always a keen student of knowledge, he also plans on learning to swim as soon as his gym reopens.

POSITION AVAILABLE: Advanced Manufacturing Scientist position available with our Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

Advanced Manufacturing Scientist – Production Innovation and Manufacturing Research

Applications are invited for the position of Advanced Manufacturing Scientist, Product Innovation and Manufacturing Research in the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) at Niagara College, located at our Welland Campus. This position is part of the Research and Innovation Division.

The incumbent is responsible for providing internal technical lead for all 3D Printing, 3D Scanning, 3D Design activities, and other technical services and/or applied research activities, as assigned. Working in collaboration with the Centre Manager, the Research Project Manager, and the Research Laboratory Technologist, the Advanced Manufacturing Scientist will provide the technical service lead in advanced manufacturing technical service and applied research activities, including, but not limited to, disseminating pre-sales technical expertise to industry partners; executing customer visits; recommending solutions; following up with potential customers; and achieving deadlines/completion of deliverables.

Click HERE to see the full job posting. The deadline to apply is Friday, May 21, 2021.

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

UPCOMING EVENT: Lead Time: ‘Solving Manufacturing Shrink/Expansion Deviations’ webinar on March 25


Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre is hosting “Lead Time” a webinar series focusing on Overcoming Manufacturing Challenges with 3D Printing on Thursday, March 11th at 11 AM. Register for this event here.

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.

Rob Johnston of CAD MicroSolutions will deliver the third webinar in this series where you will learn how to solve manufacturing shrink/expansion deviations with Dimensional Metrology.

Presenter: Rob Johnston, Director of 3D Scanning & Metrology, CAD MicroSolutions

Who Should Attend? Anyone interested in learning more about Metrology Industry 4.0 technologies that will help your business innovate and improve productivity.


Join us on March 25th at 11 AM!



POSITION AVAILABLE: Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant (Sr. Co-op) available with our Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant (Co-op)

The Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant will have a comprehensive skill set to work with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team, Faculty Leads and Industry Partners on a variety of time-sensitive projects. The successful candidate may work on research projects or technical services in Additive manufacturing, Product Design & Development, Product Testing, Reality/Spatial Capture, Reverse Engineering and Lean Manufacturing Assessment. Hours completed during this work term may be used toward your co-operative placement hours.

Click HERE to see the full job posting. To apply, please email your resume, cover letter, transcript and school schedule to [email protected] and reference ‘Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant SR Co-op’ in the subject line.

The deadline to apply is Friday, February 26th, 2021 at 4pm.

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

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!