Profile: Dave Vuyk

Photo: Michael Hanemaayer

Having grown up in Niagara during the downturn of manufacturing, Dave Vuyk has a particular connection these days to Niagara’s industrial sector, and the innovators who are leading the resurgence seen in the last decade.

And so, having the opportunity to be involved with this revival through his work with Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) is something he values highly.

“Manufacturing is huge – we’re talking about people’s livelihoods and our economic success as a region,” says the Research Laboratory Technologist. “To be providing solutions and helping enterprises to be more efficient, more profitable – that’s very rewarding.”

Those solutions are what he strives for through the college-industry collaborations he’s involved with in his role, supporting the technical services activities at the Research & Innovation WAMIC lab. Those technical services range from engineering design, 3D measurement technologies, to lean manufacturing processes and additive manufacturing.

“To be providing solutions and helping enterprises to be more efficient, more profitable – that’s very rewarding.”

For his part, and on paper, Dave is responsible for managing and maintaining the various technologies in the research labs and also providing mentorship training to the students, who receive real-world learning opportunities. In reality, he’s considered a living Swiss Army Knife, known in the workforce as someone with versatile and wide-ranging skills and someone who is solutions-oriented.

“I definitely wear a lot of hats,” he explains. “Besides working on the tech projects, there’s the lab tours, engaging with industry partners, scheduling and coordinating logistics, as well as operating and maintaining highly technical equipment. It’s so dynamic and unique, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

When he’s not handling details for all technical services and supporting the applied research projects that flow through the lab, he’s always on the lookout for the next leading-edge technology. Or he’s out on the factory floors of local industry, with WAMIC’s laser tracker (a portable coordinate measurement machine) helping certify an assembly jig, for example.

“The best part of my job is building relationships with local manufacturers; it’s really cool to be connected to that,” he says. “It’s great to be part of the manufacturing that’s going on right here in Niagara.”

He’s also working hard to build on the reputation of WAMIC to inform industry that there are immediate solutions to their problems at the College. “We’re trying to be an economic driver, which not everyone may be aware of.” 

As a self-proclaimed “tech evangelist and productivity enthusiast,” Dave is in his element inside the research labs when he is solving problems with CAD design, laser-based metrology, reverse engineering and additive manufacturing technologies.

“I’m very privileged to have the exposure to some of the technologies we support,” he says, “but at the end of the day, we’re providing solutions to industry and not showing off our flashy gadgets.”

Dave’s roots don’t stretch far; as a graduate of NC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program, he worked in the horticulture science industry for four years before returning to the College almost two years ago. He’s also a Certified Engineering Technologist (C.E.T.) through the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT).

“The best part of my job is building relationships with local manufacturers; it’s really cool to be connected to that,” he says. “It’s great to be part of the manufacturing that’s going on right here in Niagara.”

Outside the research lab, and being a problem-solving fabricator at heart, he enjoys working on personal projects in his shop at home, “making things out of steel, peening and welding and working with my hands.”

And come warmer weather, he’ll be seen on campus driving his classic car – a 1984 Mercedes-Benz turbodiesel, a vehicle Dave has much admiration for, appreciating the over-engineering and functionality.

“Today’s cars, if something breaks, often you have to the replace the entire assembly. But these old Mercedes were designed with servicing in mind; you can keep them going forever. You don’t even have to replace the part; you can generally just fix the part.”

A family man, with two small children and another on the way, Dave is looking forward to sharing with them his passion for the great outdoors: fishing, canoeing and interior camping, where he’s never without his trusty Swiss Army Knife.

“There’s nothing like it where you’re without electricity, no cell phone and often don’t see people for days at a time, just loons calling on the lake. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Profile: Dave Vuyk was last modified: February 21st, 2019 by cms007ad