Category Archives: Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

NC taps Research & Innovation team for high-tech reno help

left: Research Assistants Jason Wright and Daniela Cortes set up the FARO Focus 3D laser scanner to take accurate measurements for the FMS division prior to their renovation of the Yerich Auditorium at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus; top right: a screenshot of the scanned room; bottom right: new seating bases ready to be installed.


It sure helps to have inside connections.

When the Facilities Management Services division at the College needed to have a precise, as-built measurement scan prior to renovations to an auditorium, they needed only look to the technology already housed at the Welland campus’ Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

Armed with their 3D laser scanner, a team of students and a lab specialist with the Research & Innovation division recently headed to the Yerich Auditorium at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus. It’s a space that’s about to get a complete overhaul: new seating, walls, flooring and some added services such as communications, mechanical piping and electrical.

The mission was to produce an “as-built” scan of the room to provide FMS with a data set of precision measurements so they can accurately design their new layout.

“We require the precise location of the walls to each other, the wall distances and related angles,” says Bart Lanni, FMS planning & development technologist. “This will be a great aid in helping us to accurately locate the new seating before drilling the floor slab for the electrical power to each row or fixed seating.

“The fixed seating supplier uses the scan to aid them in locating the floor levels where the transitions occurred from level, to sloped, and back to level.”

The research team utilized its FARO Focus 3DS 120 laser scanner to create a 3D image of the room using visible laser light to measure millions of points, explains Charles Lecompte, senior application specialist with R&I.

“The FARO Focus takes those millions of measurements and creates a ’point cloud‘ that represents every visible surface, which can then be imported into CAD software,” says Lecompte. “From there we can use the updated ’as-is‘ condition of the facility to plan and co-ordinate while mitigating risks that occur when working from incorrect data.”

Centre manager Jim Lambert says this type of technology can be beneficial to industry, particularly for plant design, and in construction and operations. The planning and co-ordination of work around existing facilities can represent large cost savings in labour and materials.

Lambert called the project mutually beneficial for the College; the FMS department gains this as-built model and students receive real world application knowledge by utilizing innovative solutions using advanced manufacturing technologies. “This experience makes them more marketable to [small- and medium-sized businesses] looking to improve their operations.”

Daniela Cortes, a second-year Mechanical Engineering Technology student and research assistant, agrees: “Working at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and use leading-edge technology for various applications.”


A Brotherly Bond Sharing More Than Just Genes

Brothers John and Jim Lambert are both alumni of Niagara College and nomination recipients of the prestigious Premier’s Award. Jim is also the Centre Manager at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at the Welland Campus.

While Niagara College celebrates its 50th anniversary, it’s also a great time for remembrances of things past: like the times that brothers John and Jim Lambert both graduated from the College and then each received a nomination for the prestigious Premier’s Award.

“Not sure if we are the only siblings to both have graduated from the college and also be nominated for the Ontario Premier’s Award,” wonders Jim.

The awards, administered by Colleges Ontario, celebrate greatness in every field and those who excel in innovations and add to the “prosperity of their community.”

Jim was first to graduate in 1983 from the Mechanical Engineering Technician (Drafting Design) program. And in 2008 he was nominated for the Premier’s Award in the Technology category. This is for individuals that are trailblazers in growing the culture and improving lives by creating innovative and cutting-edge technologies.

It’s only fitting then that after a 33-year engineering career with Bosch Rexroth Canada, Jim returned home to NC as the Centre Manager for the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, a position he’s held since 2015.

His brother, who is 20 years into his career with the University of Buffalo, graduated from the Retail Management program in 1986 and in 2002 was nominated by the College in the business category for the Premier’s Award.

“We are so proud to be Niagara College alumni.”

REGISTER TODAY – Breakfast & Learn: Practical Strategies to Develop, Grow Product Sales

2017 Breakfast & Learn Workshop Series at Niagara College

Practical Strategies to Develop, Grow Product Sales

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 – Deadline to register Friday, March 24, 2017

This workshop explores ways to grow your business using proven techniques for setting up independent sales reps who only get paid when they sell. It also delves into effective strategies for using LinkedIn and other social media.

Facilitated by Bryan C Webb, P. Eng.

One of the key elements of a successful business is growth of sales and sales revenue. Growth helps through scales of economies where your equipment and staff can be more efficient by maximizing use of fixed assets and adding people as needed. Many companies work very hard in their manufacturing facilities but don’t spend an appropriate amount of time planning for future growth and needs. They also rely on sales to their current customers within Ontario or Canada without considering these same types that operate in the United States.

In this morning session, you will learn:

  • what challenges other manufacturers in the region face with regards to product sales
  • what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats exist in today’s economic climate
  • how to set up new sales channels in new territories when you’ve never done it, and don’t think you have the time, skills or resources to effectively execute.

Who Should Attend:

Owners, general managers, sales managers and anyone involved in the strategic planning for an industrial company.

Our facilitator:

Bryan C Webb, P. Eng. – Sales and Marketing Consultant

Bryan is a registered Professional Engineer of Ontario with more than 30 years of sales and marketing of highly technical and sophisticated systems and products. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Electronics Engineering from the University of Waterloo with a minor in Management Science. He has also completed the four-year Canadian Institute of Management (CIM) program at York University.

He is a technical product sales and marketing professional whose expertise includes instrumentation, industrial and test automation in both hardware and software (control, capture, display, analysis and storage). In April 2010, he co-started Norton Scientific Inc, a biotechnology company designing and manufacturing analytical instruments. His recent efforts included setting up independent sales reps/agencies across Canada and much of the United States.

Bryan’s skills include sales and marketing of sophisticated technology products. His background is based on electronics engineering (and heavy computer usage) including the use of the Internet from its earliest days. He is a networker of note, primarily on LinkedIn where he has had a profile since April 2006 and presented “LinkedIn for Success” at least 20 times.

He recently served for two years as the Chair of the Niagara Industrial Association (continuing NIA Board member from 2009 to 2013); and served on the Board of the Niagara Workforce Planning Board. In addition, he is involved with mentoring of new Canadian professionals with organizations such as the Niagara Immigrant Employment Council (NIEC, a part of NWPB).


Wednesday, March 29, 2017
8:00am to 10:30am*
*Optional tour of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre included as part of this workshop


Niagara College (Welland Campus)
Room: IC209 – Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre
100 Niagara College Boulevard
Welland, ON L3C 7L3


Cost: $25 (includes breakfast)
Space is limited.


NC research lab tech soars to new heights with job in space flight industry

It turns out, the sky ISN’T the limit for Niagara College grad and Research staff member Ben Laurence.

The recent NC Mechanical Engineering Technology grad, who has been working at as a Research Laboratory Technologist for the College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre since graduating in 2015, is taking on the opportunity of a lifetime to work in the space flight industry.

At the end of February, the lifelong Niagara resident (Welland) will be moving to Seattle, Washington to embark on a new career in the space travel industry. Laurence, 35, has been hired to work with the Structural Design and Configuration team at Blue Origin — an American privately-funded aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company set up by founder Jeff Bezos – where he will design, analyse, test, and fly structural components for the New Shepherd spacecraft. New Shepherd was the first vehicle in human history to fly itself to space and return safely to Earth for future use. Its first-manned test flights are earmarked for later this year.

“This is beyond what I have ever dreamed,” said Laurence. “My family has always been immersed in aviation and I’ve always wanted to work with airplanes even as a kid. The fact that right now I have a chance to work with space craft is just mind-boggling.”

Laurence enrolled at Niagara College after completing a BA in the political sciences as well as a certificate in aeronautics and commercial aviation training.  He applauded not only the high quality of College’s Mechanical Engineering program itself, but the experience he gained through the program’s co-op components.

As part of a junior co-op at Aquatic Sciences Inc., Laurence developed a system to monitor unmanned submarines and relay information to its pilot. He was also part of a 12-person team which set a world record for longest underwater tunnel inspection, over 10 km through the Andes Mountain range in San Fernando, Chile. During a senior co-op experience at Magellan Aerospace in Winnipeg, Laurence created and implemented a laser positioning system used to build the composite wing structures for the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.

“The program is phenomenal; I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity that the College provided me,” he said. “The co-op program allowed me not only to get my feet wet but to really do some important design work which was itself was such a good opportunity.”

He began working for the College’s Research & Innovation Division in January 2012 during his first semester. In September 2014, he was promoted to senior research associate. “While the [Mechanical Engineering] program is fundamental for gaining background knowledge and information you need to do anything in engineering, working in research allowed us to experiment and play and figure out where our strong skills were and weaker ones were, a better idea of your own capabilities.”

Laurence credits the work he does at Research & Innovation for the regular stream of job offers he receives – both for himself and for the number of co-op students he employs. He said his work in research at NC was instrumental to him getting recruited by Blue Origin.

“Working in the Research Centre has given me such a unique skill set that I would not have been able to get anywhere else, because of the nature of the work we do here,” he said. “We’re often the first organization that’s touching the software or touching the equipment or trying to apply it to real problems that the industry faces.”

He is proud of the work he has been a part of in the College’s research lab. He has worked on dozens of research projects at NC, built dozens of prototypes and countless laser inspections and reverse engineering projects. “We have one of the most capable 3D printing labs in the country and have done some ground-breaking and innovative work with 3D printing developments.”

He also values the design experience he has gained while at NC. “We have our hands in building machines for aerospace, for medical purposes, for agriculture, for manufacturing – everything we do is so diverse,” said Laurence. “It makes us really well rounded for R and D purposes.”

Manager of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre Jim Lambert noted that Laurence is a real success story and that it was no surprise that Blue Origin sought him out.

“We are very excited that Ben has finally nailed his dream job in aerospace designing rocket ships for future space travel. I am very proud of him,” he said. “Although he will be missed, we are encouraged knowing that his years spent with Niagara College faculty and staff are forever woven into the fabric of Ben’s ongoing technological career.”

Leaving the college for Blue Origin is bittersweet for Laurence, because it means leaving the College and life in Niagara – a region he loves.

“I was super excited to work here at the College. I love everything about working here, it’s such a great team and, honestly, I’d love to come back to the college someday. I think what the college does is super important,” he said. “Life is good and Niagara is such a beautiful place with so much opportunity.”

At the same time, Laurence looks forward to the next leap forward in his career.

“The human desire to explore, to go find the scientific action … to discover and understand – that, to me, is extremely important, and space travel represents the highest and purest form of that,” he said. “I’d be hard-pressed to find anything more meaningful to dedicate my profession to.”

Laurence’s last day at the College will be Feb.17 and he will begin his new position at Blue Origin on February 27.

Niagara College won’t go breaking any ‘hearts’ this Valentine’s Day

Niagara College (NC) engineering student Jacob Morris, left, with mechanical engineer and research lead, Gord Maretzki, at NC’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, on Thursday demonstrated the art of shelling heartnuts on this prototype, designed in cooperation with Niagara region nut grower Linda Grimo. Research for the prototype was funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) and the Niagara Region.

Niagara College won’t go breaking any ‘hearts’ this Valentine’s Day

That’s because its Research & Innovation team has discovered a way to automate the process of cracking delicious heartnuts without breaking their heart-shaped shells or kernels!

After a 20-year search for a mechanized ‘heartnut sheller,’ local industry partner Grimo Nut Nursery has found new hope with the team of students, faculty and research experts with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Niagara College (NC).

Heartnuts are in high demand due to their attractive shape, mild subtle flavour and heart-healthy properties; however, without automation, commercialization of the heartnut-growing industry in Ontario has stalled. Until now, this specialty nut has had to be cracked manually due to the complexities of precisely breaking each nut, so the heart-shaped shell opens like a locket and inside remains an intact, heart-shaped kernel.

Grimo Nursery has partnered with the NC Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre for its research team to design, develop and fabricate a working prototype that automatically cracks heartnuts without breaking the aesthetic heart-shaped shell or inside flesh. There have been four other previous attempts, (by other businesses, individuals and another academic institution) at producing such a device.

“Niagara College was our last hope,” said Linda Grimo owner, along with her father Ernie, of the nut nursery. “Everyone struggled with the main complexity of aligning the nut to be oriented to crack on its seam, as it required innovative thought and an understanding of computer and electronic knowledge.”

The project was certainly a challenge, agrees Gord Maretzki a mechanical engineer and research lead with the Research & Innovation (R&I) division at NC. “We had to design a machine that was able to crack the variations in organic structure because each nut is asymmetrical and takes a different amount of cracking force.”

During the project Maretzki mentored two engineering students to have a crack at the complex mechanism. They incorporated the array of technology at their disposal within the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, such as a state-of-the art 3D printer and a lab to devise a programmable logic controller and electrical pneumatic circuit schematics.

 Like many, Brian Cunningham, an electrical engineering technology student and part of the research team at NC, had never heard of the heartnut before starting his research co-op in October, along with fellow mechanical engineering student Jacob Morris. “This challenge was very intriguing, but the most exciting part for me was the prospect of helping to expand a relatively niche industry right here in the Niagara Region. I’ve lived here my whole life, and seeing local businesses grow gives me a lot of pride.

“This experience has been nothing short of fantastic! Gord Maretzki has been an amazing mentor – he’s overflowing with knowledge and experience so I’ve tried to absorb as much information as I can,­­” added Cunningham.

Combined with his class studies at the College, Cunningham says he’s been able to gain a greater balance of technical skills, theoretical knowledge, and a better understanding of how a research and development project comes together as a whole. “I’ve also been able to improve my interpersonal skills by working directly with actual clients and collaborating with my research team,” he said.

As for Grimo, she is quick to praise the research team at NC. “The Niagara College team was enthusiastic right from the start. They saw the value in our idea. They developed a work plan and have kept us engaged in the process.

“We are so impressed with the students’ professionalism and their keen interest.

“It’s almost hard to believe that ‘we’ are contributing to their real-world experience when they have made this possible for us.”

This applied research project was made possible with funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) and the Niagara Region.


Grimo Nut Nursery, a company and farm based out of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., since 1974, is best known for selling Canadian hardy nut and fruit trees to backyard growers and nut-tree farmers. Trees for sale from their 14-acre farm include walnut, hazelnut, butternut, chestnut, pawpaw, quince and mulberry, to name just a few.  The heartnut is a cultivated variety of the Japanese walnut tree that has been shown to be well-suited to the Great Lakes fruit-growing region. The heartnut is less bitter and has twice the protein and fibre than the English walnut cultivate; it is loaded with antioxidants and is low in cholesterol.

Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division provides real-world solutions for business, key industry sectors and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. We 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. Students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers to assist industry partners leap forward in the marketplace. For more information, visit

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs, as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses.

Breakfast & Learn: Practical 3D Printing Applications for Your Business

Date: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 – Deadline to register Friday, January 20, 2017
Time: 8:00am to 10:30am*
*Tour of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre included as part of this workshop
Cost: $25(includes breakfast)
Location: Niagara College, Welland Campus
Room IC209 – Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre
100 Niagara College Boulevard, Welland, ON L3C 7L3

The Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre has recently acquired and installed the Fortus 900mc 2nd Gen, the first 3D Printer of its kind in all of Canada. The Fortus 900mc is the most powerful FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) system available, delivering remarkable production agility and high return on investment. Learn how Cimetrix Solutions has introduced and expanded the use of 3D Printing to capitalize on opportunities such as: prototypes, jigs, fixtures, gauges, bridge tooling and end-use parts.

Facilitated by: Cimetrix Solutions.


In this breakfast session, you will learn how companies today are using additive manufacturing to:
• Decrease lead time
• Gain efficiencies
• Improve production quality
• Leverage greater design to freedom to consolidate components

Plus, see live demos of the Fortus 900mc in action!


Who Should Attend:
Designers, CAD Managers, Engineering Managers, Mechanical Engineers, Manufacturing Specialists, Tooling Specialist, and anyone involved in the design and manufacturing process.

Our facilitator:
Our facilitator for the day will be James Janeteas, president, Cimetrix Solutions.


For the past 30 years, James has been engaged in the design, engineering and manufacturing sectors within a variety of verticals – consumer products, medical devices, automotive, and aerospace to name a few. With his comprehensive manufacturing background, James is an Additive Manufacturing industry authority, providing recommendations on how to best leverage Additive Manufacturing to dramatically impact business processes.

Promotional Partner:


For more information, contact Jim Lambert, Manager, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre,, or 905-735-2211, ext. 7177.