NC Research & Innovation students showcase projects on Parliament Hill

Marc Nantel, NC Associate Vice President of Research & Innovation; Alex Davis, Research Associate with NC R&I’s Digital Media and Web Solutions team; Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre Vance Badawey and Brian Cunningham, Research Associate with NC’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

Three Niagara College research students had the opportunity to share their projects with MPs from across Canada as part of two parliamentary showcases in Ottawa.

On Monday, Feb. 12, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) hosted its Student Innovation Showcase as part of its Applied Research Symposium. Niagara College students comprised two of the 15 students chosen for the showcase from across Canada.

Alex Davis, Research Associate with NC Research and Innovation’s Digital Media and Web Solutions team helped develop an innovative user interface (UI) for an intelligent bed sheet design. The design, created by Studio 1 Labs, acts as a medical monitor, eliminating the need for wires and attachments to the body, and is especially valuable for monitoring the health of the elderly and newborns. The UI Davis helped develop let medical professionals annotate respiration charts, view historical data and statistics, adjust alarm thresholds and more.

Brian Cunningham, Research Associate with NC’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, was part of a team that developed a prototype for a ground-breaking heartnut cracker. The nut cracker was developed for Niagara-on-the-Lake based Grimo Nut Nursery, and utilizes pneumatics for quick feeding and positioning of the heartnut (a variation of walnuts), a programmable logic control (PLC) system to control and fine tune all of the operations on this machine, and a proprietary nut-cracking chamber.

Davis, who lives in St. Catharines said, “It’s a little overwhelming being recognized on a scale like this for one of the first web applications I’ve ever made from scratch. Nevertheless, it’s an incredible opportunity to be able to demonstrate my work with Research and Innovation at a national level, and I can’t wait to see what kinds of avenues it opens up as I grow professionally.”

“Being able to bring my knowledge from the classroom and applying it to real-world research projects has been a great opportunity to develop my skills as a future engineering technologist,” said Cunningham, a resident of Fonthill. “Being given the opportunity to represent Niagara College’s Research and Innovation division on the national level is a tremendous honour. It just goes to show how hard work and dedication really pays off.

Canadian Minister of Small Business and Tourism Bardish Chagger, as well as Niagara MP’s Allison and Badawey visited the student displays, with Badawey tweeting that “they clearly demonstrated how bright the future is.”

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, Nathan Knapp-Blezius, a student in NC’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program, and also a Research Assistant at the CFWI Innovation Centre, had his work highlighted as part of the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) #IAMInnovation campaign, which raises awareness of the work being done in labs across the country using equipment funded by CFI.

Of the eight students from across the country that were showcased, Knapp-Blezius is the only college student. Knapp-Blezius, who lives in Niagara Falls, has been part of several exciting projects through the College’s Research and Innovation team, including a two-phase project involving product development, packaging, and shelf-life analysis for products including a beef, turkey, and ostrich jerky, with a future potential for a kangaroo jerky.

The project included a trends analysis, product development, flavour matching, and formula optimization for jerkies to be ready for a trade show within three months.

Knapp-Blezius, was also the subject of a showcase video released by the CFI as part of its campaign. Watch Nathan’s story here.

“Potential starts with the people you choose to surround yourself with,” said Nathan. “I’ve never felt as driven or capable as I do alongside the people in the (CFWI) Innovation Centre. I love my work and any success I have is reflection of that.”

– by Andrew Korchok