Category Archives: Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now? Featuring CFWI IC alumni

Through applied research activities, NC’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know-how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment.

See how these 3 graduates and R&I alumni from the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world:

Beatrix Csemer is a 2015 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. Beatrix worked with R&I in the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre.
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Jon Weber is a 2016 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. Jon worked with R&I in the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre.
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Ankita Mathkar is a 2018 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. Ankita worked with R&I in the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre.  
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Where Are They Now?: Dalton Pearson

Dalton Pearson is a 2019 graduate of Niagara College’s Computer Programming program and served as both a research assistant and research associate with the Research & Innovation division, most recently with the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre. Dalton is currently employed as a software systems engineer for Praemo in Kitchener.

Tell us about where you work:

I currently work for a company called Praemo in Kitchener; we are primarily a data science company. We use machine learning and data science to provide real-time monitoring and anomaly detection for the industrial sector.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

As a software systems engineer, I tend to deal with a lot of areas, but generally, I am responsible for how data enters, moves through, and is stored, within our systems. I also manage our infrastructure, technologies, and development workflows. But on any given day, I can find myself working in any area since I have an understanding of how all our systems work and interact with each other. This is the perfect position for me; primarily backend-development, working with big-data, and we use Python, which is a huge plus in my books.

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

My experience at R&I was instrumental in landing my current position, since we were dealing with similar problems at both places – making sense of large amounts of data. I was able to re-apply a lot of the solutions and technologies that we came up with at R&I with a high level of confidence.

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

The project that will always have a special place in my heart is working on the RoamIO Jumbo land robot project with Korechi Innovation. It was one of those great projects that was very rewarding and just bolstered my love of programming. That project was also largely written using Python, which is what we use at Praemo.

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

I had some friends who went to NC, and they gave it glowing reviews.

Most memorable experience at NC?

That would have to be winning the Community Project Competition for the scoring website that we created for Squash Niagara.

A faculty member who influenced you?

Marsha Baddeley – a great professor and she always kept me challenged and hungry for harder problems.

A mentor at R&I?

There’s a couple: Mike Duncan [PhD] – he is both one of the most intelligent and down-to-earth people I know, and he always pushed me to reach my full potential. Also, [former senior research associate] Ryan Tunis – he really took me under his wing and would always toss new and harder problems my way. We’re now close friends.

“I was able to re-apply a lot of the solutions and technologies that we came up with at Research & Innovation with a high level of confidence.”

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

Work on hard problems that you find rewarding and don’t be afraid to move fast and break things – it’s a unique learning environment that you won’t see anywhere else. Try as many technologies as it takes until you find one that works for you and your problem. 

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

In my experience, software development is a true meritocracy, where hard work and talent are rewarded. I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask for what you think you’re worth and don’t settle for less; the right opportunity will come around, and you’ll both be lucky to have found each other.

Proudest achievement since graduating?

Becoming a professional Python developer.

Interests outside of work?

We have a ping pong table at work, so I play a lot of ping pong both inside and outside of work. I’m still always working on my own personal software projects that solve the problems that I deal with.

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

Software is the direction the world is going – embrace it or get left behind.

Anything else you want to say?

I will always value my time at R&I and all of the friends that I made there. It was the experience of a lifetime; thanks for taking a chance on me!

 


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Innovation in Action

Through applied research activities, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know–how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment. See how graduates and R&I alumni are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world.

Mechanical engineering grad never stops learning

Mike Granton is a 2017 graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technologist program. He did his co-op with the Research & Innovation division’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre as a research assistant and was then hired as research associate after graduating. He also graduated from NC’s Computer Engineering Technology/Technician program in 2003. Mike is employed with Grimsby-based Jantz Canada as a mechanical designer.

Tell us about where you work:
I work for Jantz Canada in Grimsby, Ontario. We design and build conveyors, automation and robotics systems, with a focus on the food industry.

Describe your role and what you like about it:
The bulk of my job involves design work, whether it be modifications and improvements to existing systems, or brand-new designs from the ground up. I’m responsible for creating drawings for our manufacturing department and ensuring they have all the information required to build our equipment efficiently. I create and manage bills of materials for projects in order to keep track of all purchased parts and outside work required to get a project done on time. I conduct research into new technologies relevant to our industry. And, I am involved in prototype design, testing and reporting.

How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?
My Research & Innovation experience has helped me in several ways. The research portion of the projects I was involved in taught me how to seek out relevant and useful information in order to solve a problem.

This is something I do on a daily basis and it is an invaluable tool in my current job. Another important part of my experience was my involvement in the project management and planning phases of each project. I still use similar time management guidelines that I learned at R&I to budget my time across multiple projects.

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
One of my most memorable research projects was the motorized window cleaning brush I designed. This was my first project at R&I. What made this project so memorable was the feeling of accomplishment after seeing through my design from research stage to finished working prototype. I still feel that same kind of accomplishment today, but this project in particular made it clear that I had made the right decision to enroll in the Mechanical Engineering Technologist program.

“Seeing my first original design – a 20-ft-tall conveyor, fully assembled in our shop and reaching to the ceiling – was a great feeling that filled me with a lot of pride.”

You were already a Niagara College graduate; what led you back?
I remember seeing an article in the paper about a road-paving machine that was designed by students at Niagara College in the Research Department. At the time, I just thought it was neat to see that kind of work being done at the college. A year or two later I found myself wanting a change in career and I remembered that article and I thought it would be a great experience to be part of a similar type project. That’s what ultimately drove my decision to go to NC.

Most memorable experience at NC?
My most memorable experiences at NC would be the opportunities to speak in front of politicians and members of the press as a representative of Niagara College and Research & Innovation. These experiences brought me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to develop my public speaking skills and generally make me more open to experiences I would have avoided in the past.

Mike Granton, then an NC Mechanical Engineering student and research assistant with WAMIC, gets the chance to speak at the funding announcement of the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) in 2016.

A faculty member who influenced you?
One particular faculty member that influenced me was Costa Aza. He played a big part in my decision to apply at R&I before my first co-op term was about to start. His enthusiasm and interest in new technologies and methods related to mechanical engineering piqued my interest in the types of projects being done at R&I.

The majority of the projects I worked on at R&I were also led by Costa. He was always encouraging and allowed me to take the lead in terms of design choices and the general direction of a project while still providing enough leadership to help me avoid mistakes and poor choices.

What advice would you impart on current research students or future alumni?
Never stop learning. Your education doesn’t end once you graduate and begin your career. In fact, it’s only just beginning.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
One of the main things I’ve learned is to have respect and learn from the experience of my colleagues. There have been many times where I’ve been able to solve a problem or avoid a costly mistake by simply getting the input and advice from others.

Proudest achievement since graduating?
Seeing my first original design – a 20-ft-tall conveyor, fully assembled in our shop and reaching to the ceiling – was a great feeling that filled me with a lot of pride. It was my first real project at Jantz that I worked on from start to finish.

Interests outside of work?
Most of my interests outside of work revolve around music in some way. Whether I’m playing guitar or drums or restoring old tube guitar amps.

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?
It’s never too late for a change!

Anything else you want to say?
Leaving a steady career to go back to school and start fresh was a scary experience at first. I knew if I stuck to it and worked hard, it would ultimately turn into a good experience. But I had no idea how great of an experience it would turn out to be. I met and worked with so many great people at Research & Innovation and the College in general. I’m proud to have been a part of the team at R&I and the work that we did. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my experience at Niagara College and Research & Innovation.

To learn more about the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre and its capabilities, click HERE.

 


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Innovation in Action

Through applied research activities, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know–how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment. See how graduates and R&I alumni are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world.

Where Are They Now?: Rachel Gerroir

Rachel Gerroir is a 2019 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation & Food Technology program and spent two years with the Research & Innovation division, first as a Research Assistant, then Research Associate with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre. Rachel is now employed as a Research Assistant with the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University.

Tell us about where you work:
CCOVI is an internationally recognized institute focused on research priorities for Canada’s grape and wine industry, while also offering education and outreach programs for that community.

Describe your role and what you like about it:
My job involves working alongside researchers and graduate students on research projects aimed to help industry in various aspects of grape growing and winemaking. One of the projects I work on involves going to local vineyards to sample grapes and analyze the tannin concentration of the skins and seeds on a weekly basis until they are harvested.

The objective is to create a historical database of tannin development in many different varietals throughout the harvest season in Niagara’s wine region. This will facilitate best tannin management practices and informed decision-making throughout the winemaking process. I enjoy being able to go out into the field, and I’ve even had the chance to help with a harvest, which was a completely new experience for me!

How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?
Research & Innovation was a fantastic learning environment and a great place to interact with clients and work on real products. I was able to see the challenges that small- and medium-sized businesses were facing and find the best solution for them. The hands-on lab experience and knowledge of various pieces of laboratory equipment have been most influential in preparing me for my current role. Working on many different projects simultaneously also helped me learn to organize and prioritize my time efficiently.

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
Sobrii non-alcoholic gin beverage was a product I worked on in my final year at Research & Innovation. It was great to be able to work on a product that’s the first of its kind in Canada and be able to try competitive products from all over the world. I learned how to manage a project from start to finish. This included sourcing ingredients, macerating botanicals and distilling, organizing tastings, and adjusting the product to meet client expectations. It all started with small lab-scale distillations and ended with running commercial scale-ups at the Niagara College Teaching Distillery.

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?
The practical, hands-on approach to learning where you could take what you’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to what you do in the science labs or kitchens. Coming from university, I also appreciated the smaller class sizes as they allowed you to dig deeper and ask more specific questions related to course material.

“The hands-on lab experience and knowledge of various pieces of laboratory equipment have been most important in preparing me for my current role.”

Most memorable experience at NC?
The culinary labs were some of my favourite courses because they brought food science into a practical environment while allowing you to use your creativity. Bringing home all the delicious food wasn’t so bad either!

A faculty member who influenced you?
Many members of faculty influenced me positively over the three years, especially Peter Rod, for sparking my interest in wine, and Dr. Amy Proulx for her ongoing encouragement and motivational support.

A mentor at R&I?
I learned something from many members of the research team, whether it be teachings through the product development process, how to use pieces of lab equipment, to how to manage expectations in the workplace. It was a great learning environment.

What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?
Work hard and be open to projects of all sorts; there’s something to learn in every one of them.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
To keep an open mind and be willing to participate in new experiences. If you have the opportunity to learn something new, always take it.

Proudest achievement since graduating?
Learning something new and building on my experience every day in a challenging and rewarding environment.

Interests outside of work?
Baking, hiking the beautiful trails of the Niagara region, visiting local wineries, and travelling.

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?
It’s the will, not the skill.

 


» VIEW ALL PROFILES

Innovation in Action

Through applied research activities, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know–how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment. See how graduates and R&I alumni are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world.

Where Are They Now?: Alex Davis

Alex Davis is a 2017 graduate of Niagara College’s Computer Programmer Analyst program. With the Research & Innovation division, he served as Research Assistant from 2016 to 2017 and then Research Associate until July 2019. Alex is now employed as a Software Developer at Landlord Web Solutions in Thorold.

Tell us about where you work:

Landlord Web Solutions (LWS) offers online marketing and data services for the rental housing community. The company builds rental housing websites in Canada and manages advertising syndication for many of the country’s largest property management firms. LWS is also host to one of the largest rental housing conferences (WEBCON) in North America.

Describe your role within the company:

As a Software Developer I develop new web-based products and provide support for LWS’s innovative content management system platform. There are many opportunities to learn as LWS actively seeks to explore new technologies to benefit their clients.

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

My experience at R&I has given me the ability to research and understand emerging technologies, work in a heavily team-based environment, learn from peers, and be more independently motivated.

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

The sensor blanket project with Studio 1 Labs. [Studio 1 developed an “intelligent” bedsheet that automates routine respiratory patient monitoring for healthcare workers, without the use of cumbersome wires. Niagara College’s Digital Media & Web Solutions team developed an intuitive, aesthetically pleasing user interface for the fabric-sensing technology.]

In my role, I researched new technologies and various solutions to process and present high volumes of data through a web interface; and fostered client relationships through ongoing communication. I was able to present and see our work in action at the 2017 IBM Disruption conference and at Parliament Hill.

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

I wanted to develop a skillset to begin and grow a career. Niagara College was the way to go.

Most memorable experience at NC?

Working with R&I, of course!

A faculty member who influenced you?

Everyone – Marsha Baddeley, Dave Kendall, Dave Stovell, Melissa Vanderlely, Peter Vanscoy, Cliff Patrick, James Marks. All of the CPA faculty have contributed to my growth as a young professional.

“My experience there has given me the ability to research and understand emerging technologies, work in a heavily team-based environment, learn from peers, and be more independently motivated.”

A mentor at R&I?

Neil Wilkinson, Gregor MacLean, Mike Duncan, Kimberley Cathline, Carolyn Mullin, Tanya Hvilivitzky, Gord Maretzki, Christine Raymond, Al Spence, and all the staff at Research. You all are what made R&I so special.

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

Take the time to learn and absorb all the knowledge and technical skills you can. Take initiative and don’t be afraid of failing.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

Every office needs a good coffee maker.

Proudest achievement since graduating?

Getting a salary gig! 

What are your interests outside of work?

Spending time with my wife and our dogs.

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

“No matter what you do, you will always be better than Game of Thrones Season 8.”

Anything else you want to say?

Tell everyone I say Hi!

 


» VIEW ALL PROFILES

Innovation in Action

Through applied research activities, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know–how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment. See how graduates and R&I alumni are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world.

Where are they now?: Jason Wright

Jason Wright is a 2018 graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology (Co-op) program and was a Technical Services Research Assistant at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre for the Research & Innovation division for one year. Jason has been employed with Burloak Technologies in Oakville as a Process Designer since November 2018.

Tell us about where you work:

Burloak Technologies is a leading partner for advanced additive manufacturing solutions. The company uses additive manufacturing with a variety of metals and plastics, and multi-axis machining to serve the aerospace, satellite communications, spaceflight, energy and high-end industrial sectors.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

As a Process Designer, it is my responsibility to get Burloak to define company processes around DfAM (design for additive manufacturing, operation of additive manufacturing equipment, and manufacturing of advanced manufacturing parts. I am creating documentation to support our processes and support traceability to our customers, and support the engineering team with any new projects that come along. Some days I am at my desk, and other days I am on the manufacturing floor either making something or helping to solve problems. My favourite part of the job is that every day is different, and everyone at Burloak shares the same passion: leading the advancement of additive manufacturing technology in Canada and across the globe.

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

R&I gave me the additive manufacturing background that my company was looking for, which helped me to land this job.  I also had the opportunity at R&I to speak with customers, and turn their conceptual ideas into 3D models, and eventually into printed parts. The research, design, and communication skills I learned at R&I are skills I use every day at work. 

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

In 2017, I worked with a company developing a product that required significant product design, and additive manufacturing for rapid prototyping purposes. The most memorable work I was a part of at R&I was working with the Fortus (3D printing) production systems (FDM Additive) and design projects.  The technology is very advanced, I always looked forward to going to work at R&I to see what the Fortus had finished printing the night before.

Most memorable experience at NC?

The most memorable experiences at NC were with my friends that I met in the program. The Mechanical Engineering Technology program at NC is very demanding and very rewarding. I lived with a few of my classmates, and we became close friends. The most memorable experiences were pulling long nights and early mornings studying and completing projects with my friends. It was a huge challenge and we all supported each other.

“The research, design, and communication skills I learned at R&I are skills I use every day at work.”

A faculty member who influenced you?

All of my professors were greatly influential, and helped me to develop strong interests in the classes they taught. 

Lois Johnson instilled in me a strong interest in material sciences; her classes were the most interesting to me. I plan to work towards a career in material sciences within the additive manufacturing industry.

Neil Walker has such a distinct passion for his courses and his students. He could explain the same concept a thousand different ways until everyone understood it. He really helped to connect the dots between the applicable engineering concepts and the math.

Scott Phillips really wants to exercise your mind. He might give you a problem, almost like an engineering puzzle, and give you 50 percent of the jigsaw pieces. It is your job to find the other 50 percent using any resources possible, with no hints. This was often frustrating, but I tried hard to solve those puzzles. I strongly believe his lessons contributed the most to my flexibility and problem-solving skills that I use every day now.

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

Take time to learn from your colleagues at R&I. Even if it isn’t a project you are directly working on, you can learn so much just from asking questions and being interested. This opens up the opportunity to be a part of multiple projects at once, which is both a great learning opportunity and can be a lot of fun.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

Entering the workforce can be intimidating and nerve-racking, but that’s where you are going to learn about your own strengths and weaknesses. It is humbling to enter a place where your knowledge is not judged on an even playing field, and it is certainly rewarding to learn new things about yourself. I quickly learned what my strengths are in terms of project management and the application of knowledge through technical writing. I also learned where I needed to improve. Keep your mind open and remember, you don’t know everything yet.  

What are your interests outside of work?

 I enjoy spending time outside, whether that means going for a hike, cycling, or reading a book by the lake. Working indoors all day can take a lot out of you – spend some time outside!

 


» VIEW ALL PROFILES

Innovation in Action

Through applied research activities, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know–how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment. See how graduates and R&I alumni are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world.